Mom's roommate

Hi,to all.

Okay, here's a dilemma I'm trying to figure out. My mother is in a nursing home and has stabilized. She's off the mechanical soft diet and is doing so much better than most of last year. Her roommate, however, has gone into a sudden decline and is not expected to recover. They are not close, but they get along okay.

There is a very strong chance that my mother will be in the room when the roommate passes away. I am concerned that this may upset her, but I don't know if I should even bring it up. I'm thinking of calling the nh social worker (family liaison) to find out how they typically deal with this type of situation. Or am I seeing a problem where there is none?

Comments?

Thanks and hugs,
Barb
Original Post
Dear Barb:

Well I think it would be better to address the issue ahead of time. I would call the nh social worker because hopefully they have ways of handling situations like this. I am glad you posted this because it is certainly something that has never entered my mind... It seems as if they would have some policy to handle end-of-life issues but I have never heard of one.

However, in the meantime, I would not hesitate to bring up the subject with your mother. Perhaps just express your concern about how her roommate is doing and see how your mom feels about it. Sometimes opening the door to end-of-life concerns brings up an opportunity to discuss our deeper feelings and fears...

It is not an easy situation to be in Barb. Perhaps spend more time with your mother now so she won't spend so much time alone with her roommate during this time. It just might help to keep her occupied? Just a thought!

Love and Hugs from Glenda
Thanks, Glenda.

As always your comments are thoughtful and supportive.

The sw happened to call me about something else today, and I asked her what they do when this sort of thing happens. She says they try to provide for the privacy and comfort of both residents and their families, which she admits is difficult. Normally, they would move one of them out, but there are not other beds available right now. So she made a note to try to get my mother involved in more "out-of-room" activities, as well as provide grief counselling and monitor her for signs of depression.

I got to thinking about it. When Mom was in assisted living, there was more than one incident of someone expiring suddenly - once in the dining room while everyone was eating! So she has sort of been through this before. Also, her stoic and very proper New England upbringing makes her behave very matter-of-fact and unemotional about these things.

As you suggest, I'll take her for a "stroll" around the nh campus and discuss it with her myself. If the weather were nicer I could take her outside (there's a park across the street). Also, the staff will help me get her in the car, if I wanted to schedule an outing of just driving around and perhaps a fast-food lunch. Unfortunately, hubby has not been doing well the past 6 weeks or so, which makes it hard to plan anything ahead of time. But that's another thread for another time. :-)

Thanks again and hugs,
Barb
Hi. I just wanted to provide the inevitable update... the rest of the story, if you will.

The roommate passed away a couple of days ago. Thankfully Mom was somewhere else, in the dining room, I think. They kept her out and calm until the roommate was removed. She said a group of ladies from some church came and gathered the belongings, and she stopped them from taking some of her own clothes. I haven't done inventory, but I suspect a few items may have left anyway.

There is already another roommate, someone who transferred from another room. They seem to be getting along so far.

In talking with her today, Mom is a little befuddled by the change and cannot keep a clear timeline in her mind about what happened. "I think someone died," she told me. But she couldn't seem to connect that event to having a new roommate. This is probably a blessing.

Generally, though, she is in good spirits. Hope you all are, too.

Hugs,
Barb
Hi Barb:

It is such a shame that your Mom's roommate passed away. I think that is one of the more difficult parts of care-giving after all. One of dad's friends passed away about a week ago and I didn't even tell him about it. I don't know if I should have or not, but he hasn't seen her for years and so it's not like he will miss her.

Of course I got the phone calls about whether of not dad was going to the memorial service. I don't think so... His knee is so bad that it is just plain difficult to put him through that kind of activity. It is kind of strange how we want to protect them from those "passing" issues, isn't it?

It is hard though when it is so close as with your Mother's roommate. I am glad that she was out of the room when they discovered it. God bless you and your Mom, Barb. You are such a sensitive and loving daughter!

Love and Hugs from Glenda
Thanks, Glenda.

You are a sensitive and loving daughter, too. It's hard to know how to tell them sad news, isn't it? The "greatest generation" are pretty resilient, though. We're such a bunch of self-absorbed wimps compared to our parents and grands... generationally speaking.

Hats off to all of them, and all of us who care for them.

Thanks, again for all your caring support.
Hugs,
Barb

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