I need to get my mom to a doctor’s appointment next week, and I haven’t had her out by myself since June 14, so I’m a little nervous. I’m a lot nervous. She’s a lot of work. To practice, I am going to take her out to breakfast tomorrow. I’ve been planning this in my head for days.
If I want to get her to breakfast at her favorite place (Old West Cafe) before the rush, I need to get her there by 8AM. This means I will need to arrive at memory care by 7AM because I’ll need to be sure she is dressed, lucid, and has used the toilet. It will take at least 30 minutes to get her into the wheelchair to get her out the door.
I’m not even sure if I can get her into my car. I have to get her wheelchair out the door, get my car up to the driveway (and hope she doesn’t try to get out of her wheelchair and follow me when I go to get the car), get her from the wheelchair into the passenger seat, and then get the wheelchair into the back of my car (hoping she doesn’t try to get out of the car while I do this), and then rinse and repeat to get her in and out of the restaurant. I don’t have a handicapped tag for my car, so I have to park in regular spaces–that’s it’s own battle.
I will need to ask for a table near the toilets because halfway through the meal she is going to need to go, and I will have to take her.
This means I cannot take a purse to the restaurant with me because I can’t wrangle a bag and my mother, so I need to plan to wear something with pockets, and just to take my phone/wallet and car keys.
I need to keep her from reaching out and grabbing people, or grabbing at people’s children–a habit she formed a year ago. If she sees someone she thinks is attractive, she grabs for them with claw hands. No one likes this, but so far, only children have screamed and cowered.
I need to make sure I have the entire back of my car cleared for her wheelchair. I need to be ready to haul that wheelchair in and out of my car 4 times.
I need to have bottled water available in my car for the 5 minute trip to the restaurant, a towel in case she has an accident, and tissues in case she cries. As I think about it, I should probably have some bandaids in case she bumps into something and her skin abrades.
I need to be mentally prepared for it to take 45 minutes for my mom to eat half a biscuit, one egg, and half a piece of bacon. She likes to take a long time chewing now, and sometimes I’m afraid she’s forgotten she’s supposed to swallow. I need to be mentally prepared for her to be confused and possibly angry because of the confusion. I need to be emotionally prepared for her to cry and beg me to let her come live in my house, or ask me why my dad hasn’t come to see her, or why she is so alone and has no one who loves her.
I have to be able to anticipate her needs, so I have to pack a Gerry Bag–the geriatric version of a diaper bag–including a couple of pull-ups, a snack, and a small photo album to act as both a focal point and a distraction, and a way to change conversation when she starts asking me questions neither of us really wants answered.
Then, I have to fight the battle of getting her back into the memory care. All I can hope is that the trip and the heavy food tire her out, so she’ll want a nap and she won’t fight too much when I try to get her back inside her gilded cage.
Wish me luck.