Due to my Granny's worsening Alzheimer's and dementia, it was decided that it wasn't safe for her to live alone in the mountains of North Carolina anymore. So my family moved her (against her will) to a retirement home in the triangle. This resulted in her being very upset with the family, especially my mom. They hired a nurse to talk to her about how she was feeling, thinking that she would open up more to the nurse; so the nurse was basically a spy for them (I'm not endorsing the ethics of this, for the record). This is a note from the nurse. One side-note: be sure to take care of your hearing as you age and get a hearing aid early, do not resist it if your significant other/family suggests you might need one. It appears as though the brain works under the following principle: if you don't use it, you lose it. One's risk for these cognitive deficiencies go up enormously (I'm talking like 5x, it's absurd) with untreated hearing loss, because your brain just isn't really being utilized.

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Hi All,

I visited your Mom this afternoon at Preston Pointe. She was just returning from a trip to Trader Joes. She had 15 bags of groceries. I helped her bring them up to her apartment. She greeted me coolly and asked me how I found out that she was there. I told her that Toni had called me to tell me that she moved and asked me to come over and see how she was doing.

She didn't say a word until we got into the apartment and then she told me how very upset she was and how she was "dumped" on Sunday. She said she didn't have any food and she hadn't eaten since yesterday. Plus she was very tired because the street noise had kept her awake during the night.

We put away the groceries and she picked up Sophie, who was staying with someone while she went out. We then sat down and talked. She started out being very angry and feeling betrayed, then she let her true feelings come out and she said she was heartbroken and ashamed. She cried and said how good she had been to all of her children and that this was the thanks she got. She went into the litany of how she took care of her mother and her mother in law and then this is how her family takes care of her. She said that she was no trouble when she was with Beth. She did their laundry and stayed in her room. I told her that now she could have her own space and she could be free to read and watch TV on her own terms. She could not accept anything I said, but I needed to say it so that it can help her think differently over time.

Her memory is very selective about how things happened. It is not possible for her to string together a logical narrative. She had the same reaction when we visited Atria. The same litany of stories and how no one included her in the decision, no one told her about this, when if fact she had been told. The memory deficit gets in the way of having a logical discussion, plan and conclusion. So, getting through the anger and the storm will take time and patience.

She said she wished she hadn't married Al and never moved from Florida. I said that we all could say that about anything, but what was in the past is done. We have to focus on the future. I said that she had to focus on her grandchildren. They still need her and still want her in their lives. They can not be included in this anger. I think she heard me. Later in my visit, she showed me a photo taken of her with her grandchildren. She softened a bit and said how much she loved them.

After a while she asked me why I hadn't come to see her after she got back from Hawaii. She said "I thought I had said something that upset you." I told her I had been busy and hadn't been able to come back until now. I think this was the reason for the cool reception at the beginning.

I told your Mom that Toni was coming to see her on Thursday and she said that I should let her know that she should not come. That she would not see her. I said that most likely she had bought her ticket and your Mom said that she could visit her sisters, but not to come and see her.

This is going to take some time to resolve, but it is a very common reaction, especially for people with memory loss. They are holding on to what they have and any disruption is not going to go down easily. I recommend patience. I would not go to see her for the next 2-3 weeks. Let her get her bearings and a routine established in the community. I saw her interact with others when she got off the bus and she was lovely. I also thought there was a liaison type person who came by and invited her to dinner and things. I hope this is in place.

My plan is to call her when I get back from Seattle next Friday, the 25th. I put her cell phone number in my phone and I gave her my card with a note on the back that says that I will call her. I told her she can call me as well. I will go visit her at the beginning of the following week. Your Mom is going to need support during this transition and this is the reason I have built a relationship of trust that is outside of the family dynamic.

I will be interested to hear what happened from your perspective. She will never be able to understand what and why this happened, but over time, she will adapt. Until then, I would say to let her be and not force a visit.

Warm Regards,

Diane Halloran, RN, MPH
Founder & CEO
Everybody Needs A Nurse