Life in progress

#JusJoJan 2018, the 12th – Aggravate


Things are going from bad to worse with my mother, and smoking is once again the culprit. For those of you who missed it, I wrote a post in November (click here for that post) about my mother’s tendency to fall and break bones when she went outside for a cigarette at the retirement residence where she lives. Before I discovered that she was falling because she was sitting on the seat of her walker and taking the brakes off before she stood up, the nurses took her smokes away from her, which necessitated that she ask for one so someone would know she was going out. She got a walker without a seat, and she got her cigarettes back. It was all fine and dandy until last week.

They caught her smoking in her room. They took her cigarettes away, and this time they’re not giving them back. She can still smoke any time she wants, she just has to get one on her way out the door. Not a big deal, right? Not if you don’t know my mother.

When she was caught, she apparently didn’t know she was doing anything wrong. The nurse that called me said she walked into my mum’s room and asked politely for her cigarettes. My mother handed them over willingly. Her senile dementia is, of course, the reason it is now a problem.

Now, she:

  1. Has forgotten that she smoked in her room.
  2. Says they’re accusing her of smoking in her room because they can smell smoke on her jacket.
  3. Says they shouldn’t have gone into her room when she wasn’t there and taken her cigarettes.
  4. Says the nurse who said she was smoking in her room is a liar.
  5. Phones me 10 times a day to ask me if I have something to do with the fact that her cigarettes are with the nurses.
  6. Phones me 10 times a day to ask me where her cigarettes are.
  7. Complains to the nurses 20 times a day that she should be able to have her cigarettes back because she doesn’t smoke in her room.
  8. Complains to the management that the nurses are lying and she wants her cigarettes back.

All this finally came to a head two days ago when the management called me, clearly aggravated, to say that when someone with dementia gets to the point that their forgetfulness causes them anxiety, it’s necessary to start considering a nursing home.

Perhaps there’s someone out there who can verify that this is a fact, perhaps they’re just getting tired of answering the same questions 20 times a day. All I know is if my mother goes into a nursing home, there will be no more smoking, and she’s only going to go downhill that much faster.

I don’t know what to do. Explaining things to her–even if she understands, which she usually doesn’t–has no lasting effect. I feel like putting her into a home is tantamount to condemning her.

Aren’t I cheerful today?

The above paragraphs of moroseness are brought to you by Just Jot it January, and in particular, prompted by the word “aggravate,” provided by Fandango! Thank you so much, Fandango! You can find Fandango’s JusJoJan post by clicking right here. Please go and say hi! To participate in the prompt, please visit this post, where you’ll find the rules and you can leave your link in the comments.

Author: Linda G. Hill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

44 thoughts on “#JusJoJan 2018, the 12th – Aggravate

  1. Sorry to get here late without reading other comments. What about putting a note on her door or leaving a message she can listen to that explains why she can’t have her cigarettes. Maybe with a warning that if she wants to keep smoking, she has to follow the rules and ask for each cigarette. I know how addicting cigarettes can be, but had not thought about the combined problems of tobacco addiction with dementia. You don’t have to answer every phone call from her, I hope. Sending hugs and wishing for moments of peace.


  2. Hey Linda,
    I agree with the comments. Many things have changed and nursing homes do incorporate the lifestyles of patients nowadays. It’s not the “sentence” it used to be. Do check them out thoroughly. Hugs…


  3. I’m sorry to hear this. Just know whatever decision you ultimately make is the best one. It’s very obvious that you’re a wonderful caring daughter.


  4. I’m overwhelmed at the idea that people make choices like this on the regular. It has got to be heart-wrenching. I’m so sorry for you both, and can’t help but think rock & hard place.
    Best care. What is best care? Cares for body only? Can’t be. Can’t be that.


  5. I am so sorry to hear that, Linda. I hope you find some solution soon.


  6. I feel terrible for you. You’re stuck in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. I have no idea what to say, so just know you and your mother are in my thoughts and prayers.


  7. My Mum is in hospital and has been since Christmas Eve following a fall and breaking her wrist. She’s 95 and has dementia. I have recently discovered she will not be going back to the residential care home she came from, but instead into a Nursing Home once a placement can be found. I have no say in it as my sister has Power of Attorney and we do not get on at the best of times. I am over 250 miles away so visiting is difficult. I’ve spoken to Mum a couple of times since our December visit when she was unwell and asleep in bed, but she doesn’t really know who she’s talking to after a few minutes.
    Mum is already confused and probably frightened as everything is unfamiliar again. When she lived with my sister, she was left on her own a fair bit, but falls became more frequent and my sister couldn’t cope.
    I sympathise with you. Dementia is a horrible disease for sufferers and family alike. We can only do what we can. I would love to be closer to be able to visit, but I was writing every week, even though I didn’t get a reply. However, even that has been taken away from Mum now as nothing is permanent and the hospital staff don’t have time to read to her anyway. I am making do with cards and short notes, but it would seem that those I’d sent hadn’t been opened by Mum, staff or family, so now I am anxious that she’s getting no visitors at all and feels she’s been abandoned. And there’s nothing I can do about it.


    • I’m so sorry to hear that. I can feel your frustration. Many hospitals have volunteers who just go in to visit – perhaps you could ask someone in charge on your mother’s floor to request someone come in to read your notes to her.
      It really is a horrible situation for everyone. All the very best, my dear. *hugs*


  8. I’m sorry you have to face this situation, Linda. In the end you should consider what is best for you and your peace of mind. My prayers are with you.


  9. A co-worker went through this with his mom. She had Alzheimer’s and he would get calls from her and the residence. Eventually they did have to move her to a nursing facility because of the progression of the horrible disease but it was safer for her in the long run. You’ve got some tough choices ahead. Sending support your way


  10. This isn’t an easy choice for you to take Linda, but it is a necessary one. Dementia is only going one way. Could it be possible for you to visit several different places to see and hear, what they can and will offer to your Mom?
    I think, this might help you to take the decision.
    Big hugs to you.


  11. My mom used to say she would rather die than go in a nursing home. When it became necessary, she actually liked it! I’m not kidding. Of course, the right staff can make all the difference.
    My aunt is 96, has dementia and is in a nursing home. I’ve seen residents outside with walkers, smoking cigarettes. I don’t think many places deny “quality of life” as they call it.
    In both places I’ve been in awe of people who go out of their way to make the residents lives more pleasant.
    Not to mention your own peace of mind that she’s cared for 24/7.


  12. My mother-in-law had dementia and she lived with us when I was married, but the thing that aggravated me the most was her telling the same stories over and over again and after you hear them over 100 times, they do get on your nerves.


  13. I sympathise with your situation. Taking the decision to move a parent along the stages that ultimately lead to full time residential care are never easy but often there are defining points. For me it was when my Mother stood in front of me with her fist raised and calmly told me she wanted to punch me. It seems you may have reached a similar point. Doesn’t make it easy. Just necessary. I hope if you embark on the next step it’s not too difficult and that you find the right solution for now.


  14. I would get the opinion of 2 different doctors not associated with the place she currently lives. Every situation of dementia is so unique that it’s hard for your readers to give advice. We can tell you our knowledge and experience, but it may or may not be the same for your mom. Good luck. Tjis is definitely stressful on everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My Mother was in a Retirement Residence until she broke her ankle and needed 24 hr care. She went into a Nursing Home and loved it! There were activities all day, pets on the premises, she was never in her room because she was off enjoying herself. I know there are horrible Homes out there but there are also good ones.


  16. I am sorry that you have to face this issue. When we put our mom in elderly housing, the list of reasons they could ask her to leave was long and complicated. I hope you find a way to work this out.


  17. Oh! Linda this so distressing for you I am so sorry that your mum has reached this stage. There are so many facets to this nasty illness. All I can suggest is that you check up on their policy for Dementia. I do hope a mutually helpful solution can found. Sending love 💜💜💜


  18. This is such a tough situation… we had the same when my grandma in law was in care. She was Bi-polar and then developed dementia too. She wanted to be at home, but then she didn’t. She would avoid taking her pills. There was an element of kleptomania in her case too, and as we all worked, she couldn’t be at home alone, so was in a residential home, and ended up in the dementia ward, which was fully secured.
    It is really what is the lesser of two evils for her (and you). If her safety is paramount then you know the way to go, but if her quality of life will be nil because she can’t smoke anymore, is it worth her being put through that anxiety and grief?
    I’m sorry I am no help Linda, but I totally sympathise with you xxx


  19. I wish I could offer some useful advice, but I can’t. I hope you can find a solution that serves both you and your mother well.


  20. Not much to say on this issue but here’s a **hug**


  21. It is a dilemma, but check with the local authorities. If it ends up to be the nursing home, you shouldn’t feel blame. Dimentia is just a horrid thing you can’t control.


  22. Pingback: #JusJoJan Daily Prompt January 12, 2018~Aggravate | Margret's Life Journey!

  23. The questions you ask of yourself and for her benefit – there are no answers … it’s a matter of picking the least worst option, really, and not much more than that. I feel for you


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