Monday, May 30, 2011

Ongoing Grief

A while ago, I wrote about a resident I nicknamed "ScaryLady" on this blog, because she used to beat up all of us caregivers every single night when we tried to put her to bed. I literally had bruises up and down my arms every day for about 2 months straight that were all from her. Now she's on a routine behavioral medication for the first time, and is doing much better. She cooperates with care more, which means she gets more care, rather than just the absolute necessities. I see a different side of her, and it's so nice.

Her daughter is pretty in denial about how far NotScaryAnymoreLady's disease has progressed. I wondered what she thought, hearing about how her Mom needed further medication in order to stop injuring her caregivers. I tried to put myself in her shoes and imagine what that would feel like, but all I got was awkwardness, and I felt self-conscious about my bruises when she was there to visit her Mother. I felt torn between wanting her to know where they came from and being embarrassed that I couldn't somehow stop the behaviors.

Today I felt like I got a bit of a taste of what it's like to have a family member that's acting out like that, and it really has made me sympathetic to my residents' families.

One of my residents is a man I've been taking care of for about 2 years at several of the last places I've worked at. His family moved him into the GreatRep partly because I started working there, and they have been very pleased with the way I've worked with him over time. There was a gap of several months where I didn't see him before he moved in, so my knowledge of him wasn't very up-to-date. I told my coworkers how nice he is, and easy going. And then he moved in, and he wasn't. He refused showers, did a lot of very annoying and rude things, and even sexually harrassed one of my coworkers. I felt terrible, having vouched for him like that, even though everyone reassured me that they understood it's just the disease. Dementia does that to people.

This last week has been hellish. My resident has been escalating in aggression, trying to take advantage sexually of other more impaired residents (like the nonverbal ladies who don't understand what's going on). And when we try to redirect him, he's been increasingly hostile to staff.

This morning at breakfast, I was giving meds to someone who was sitting at the table with that guy, and the guy suddenly looked at me, looked at my chest, and asked me if I was wearing a bra. Ugh. I said "That's not an appropriate question and we aren't going to talk about this subject". He started challenging me "Why not? Are you? I bet you are." I restated that this was NOT OKAY and he needed to stop talking to me that way. And then he asked me if I wanted to fight. And I said no. And then he stood up and told me he was going to punch me. Instinct kicked in and I said authoritatively "No, you are NOT." He sat back down, and I ignored him and finished up my task.

This is a guy that I used to think of as like a second Grandpa. I know his entire extended family, went to his wife's most recent birthday party, and have babysat his great grandkids. And he wanted to punch me in the face, and would likely have sexually assaulted me if circumstances allowed it.

It just hurts so much.

Now there isn't much to be done about him right now. He needs medication changes, and until they can happen, he must have a family member supervising him in our facility at all times. For the safety of our residents and our staff. And me. I think the fact that he did that to me really shocked his family and they're being very helpful.

But I think I got a taste of how awful it is to have your loved one scaring people, scaring you. And it's so bad. I feel so terrible for the family members. Alzheimer's is a really mean disease at times.

1 comment:

  1. It is the worst thing in the world to watch and be there when someone you care about literally loses their mind. When my mom went through that, I couldn't believe some of the things she did and said...and our hearts have no defense. I finally realized that she just wasn't the same person I once knew. I realize now that I started grieving her at that point, because she was already gone.

    I still loved her and cared for her as best I could, but I found that my heart didn't hurt quite so much any more when she would act out, and try to hurt me and others.

    My heart goes out to you, and hope you can find a place of peace and caring, but protecting our heart too.