Two’s a Crowd

Notes from the Eldercare Underground:  Paranoia Edition

Well, the shit has hit the proverbial fan.

Last Friday I accompanied my mother to a doctor’s appointment.  She had to see a neurologist as part of the follow-up to her hospital stay.

Basically, it was a CYA visit.  (Also known as “Cover Your Ass.”)

This is where the primary care doctor has to refer the patient to a few specialists to make sure that every possible reason for hospitalization would be looked into, thus releasing her doctor from any blame further on down the line for not doing “enough” for her 92 year-old patient. 

Having been in the medical/dental field myself, I can fully understand the reasoning behind this.

It’s spelled l-a-w-y-e-r-s.

Anyway, we were gone only about an hour, or an hour and a half.  Upon our return, we found my mother’s room at the nursing facility transformed.

She now had—-a roommate.

Complete with new, tacky (in my mother’s eyes) room decor that encroached on her own spartan living space, since the alcove that holds the two matching closet/dresser wall units is mostly on my mother’s side of the room.

She had been using her side plus the other (up to now) unused side for displaying the cards that family and friends had sent her.  She’d been resistant to photos or other tchotchkes from home and only reluctantly allowed my daughter to bring her some new photos of the great-grandkids and also a lucite display case with some butterflies encased inside.

Didn’t want anything else.

However, Annie’s family, the new roommate, had decked out her side of the unit with all kinds of photos and gewgaws, to the horror of my mother.  They’d even moved (how dare they?) my mother’s cards to the top of the unit and onto her own side now. 

Personally, I thought it was nice of them to take the time to display them the way they had been and not just pile them in a heap.  But that’s me.

Anyway, I knew this new situation did not bode well and I left soon after.

In the meantime, I came down with a whopper of a cold and didn’t make it back to the nursing home until Wednesday of the following week.  My daughter had been there on Sunday and reported that my mother was all fussed up about Annie, who, God bless her, pretty much just lies there in her bed and says “Wha?…”

When I finally recovered enough to go see my mother yesterday, she was not a happy camper. 

She’s built this whole scenario in her mind about Annie being the one who moved her stuff, even though Annie probably couldn’t move two feet from her bed on her own.

She also has concocted possible future scenarios about what Annie “might” do—like come over to her side during the night and yell at her. 

Or peek around the curtain and tell her to turn out her light or the TV.


So, I’ve started the ball rolling to get my mother transferred to the assisted living center next door, where she can have a private room (with shared bath).  The nursing/rehab center where she is now only has semi-private rooms—which to me is an oxymoron because either a room is private or it’s not.  Come on, people!

My mother’s doctor has to agree to this move, so I personally went to her office and spoke with her nurse and told her that my mother is ambulatory now (remember the candy apple red walker?) and doesn’t need skilled nursing, just assistance with the basics like bathing and medication management.

So…we’ll see what transpires.

Stay tuned….

22 thoughts on “Two’s a Crowd

  1. Good luck with the relocation. We had TV wars, fart wars (actually the smell was from the real thing) food spitting and all sorts of interesting festivities when room mates got on the radar screen. It’s funny in retrospect but at the time it’s hard to see the humor.


  2. Good luck with it all. I hope your mom is happier and that some help with bathing and meds really is all she needs for now. Enjoy this time while you can and I hope that this time goes on for quite a while yet. It’s a “back to my future” thing for me, some day, hopefully not too soon, I’ll be in your shoes. I remeber my Gram in those years of her life and looking forward to my mom not getting there anytime too soon. Hugs from here, you really are doing all that you can.


  3. ouch. hoping this works out well.

    mom had to share a hospital room once, and it wasn’t the patient that was the problem…. the woman had a family from hell. set up camping in the room (about 4 of them at a time). coming and going constantly. noisy. the nurses had to shut down the party… fortunately it was just an overnight stay….


    • Exactly. When I first spoke with the nursing home administrator about this problem, he said they could put a different roommate in there with her, one that was more aware of what was going on around her, but he said then my mother would have to deal with that person’s family coming and going. Annie, he said, was about as good as it got in terms of roommates because she wasn’t any more animated than the chair in front of him. (I had to laugh, but I appreciate his candor! A nice guy whose family has been in the nursing home biz since 1965.)


  4. Good luck!
    My grandmother told the nurses that her roommate,
    who had dementia–was peeing in the garbage can.
    Another one sang hymns all night and wouldn’t let her sleep.
    The last one couldn’t move or speak. She scared grandma.
    My grandmother is extremely happy at her nursing home being one
    of the few people there who continuously now has no one living with her.


    • As soon as I finished my Zumba class this morning (after almost a week of sloth), I phoned the nursing home from the Wellness Center parking lot.

      I had to act quickly before they booted poor Annie out of her room and replaced her with…?


  5. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder what happens to the folks who don’t have family members like you to take the bull by the horns and handle the problem. Just went through a year of this stuff with my mom. Take care of yourself. You will need your strength!


    • I’ve often thought the same thing too—especially when my mother was in the hospital and she became delirious. I had to point out to the nurses that this was not normal behavior for her. What happens to the patients who don’t have someone advocating for them? It’s scary…


  6. 21 years ago my mother, who suffered a massive stroke at 62 that left her double-whammied i.e., completely incapacitated and incommunicado, resided in a nursing home for over eight years. I recall few of her roommates but there was a partition separating them. My dad, siblings and I instinctively knew to keep our voices low and to respect whoever was on the other side of the divide. Turf’s important and I feel for your mom. I hope it all works out for her soon. Glad you’re compelled to take charge and take good care of her.


    • I’m so sorry about your mom. That must have been very difficult for your whole family. A few times my mother has said that she thinks she should have died at 50 (although I don’t believe for a minute that she means it but is only trying to garner sympathy for being old.) When she does that I have to remind her that if that were the case she never would have known her grandkids or great-grandkids or would have lived in the place she loved for almost 30 years. She has been very lucky healthwise. I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would like to trade places with her.


  7. Yup. I remember that nursing home stuff well – the roommates were my parents, who were not meant to live in the same 200 square feet, especially after 58 years of marriage.

    I was able to bring them home for a short period, then he died, then she chose to come to live with me in a completely different state, well over 2500 miles from her friends.

    Quite brave of her, I thought. We got along for two years, without fighting, quite the feat for two people who never liked each other for more than 50 years of my life.


    She passed away a week and a day ago. I miss her.

    A cool thing happened, though, the day she died, and I wrote about it:


  8. Good luck with the move. I can relate to so much of this situation from my own family. My grandmother was paranoid about every single person she came in contwct with in a nursing home, and years later my Dad in assisted living had similar issues.


  9. Still things to come..Mom took ill, as in puked, pooped, and damn near passed out at the local bridge game last Saturday. The nurse on site opted to call us to pick her up rather than call 911. What? The ambulance folks don’t know where your elderly housing home is? In any case, my beloved went and picked Mom up and then called me. That conversation involved a lot of WTF? Take her to the emergency room and I’ll meet you there. Al the tests went well, probably a case of eating slightly old food or onion powder in any form. Joy of joys, post getting out of ER, I went to the local supermarket for gut friendly food and bed pads. Got back to her house to intercept a call from Bro lecturing her about what to do. I grabbed the phone and told him to get his sorry ass up there (he lives 20 minutes away) if he wanted to have a say. Sure I spent the night, she’s fine.

    I knew that she was fine by the next morning when she started to complain about the way I wash my face at night, the way I brush my teeth, the clothes I choose to sleep in, and that I’d had more than one drink before bed. Shit, I wish my brother had shown up, I could have just gone home.

    All in all, Mom living on her own and not with us, priceless.

    Thanks for leading into that land where I am heading.


    • My sympathies to all of you! With my mother’s doctor’s okay (waiting for three days for that!) we’re moving her to a retirement center ASAP, which is one step below assisted living. (It’s like a Las Vegas hotel, but without the blackjack tables.) The center manager said that if she should fall ill they would assess whether to call me first or to call 911, based on her condition—so that’s probably how they did it with your mother.

      As for your brother, mine is coming from Colorado this Friday for a visit. I told my husband that I guess I’m lucky that he wants to stay as much out of everything as possible and let me have free rein. Before my mother agreed to go to the retirement center, she defiantly said she would go home with my brother and his wife. Ha! Never gonna happen. 🙂

      Good luck!


  10. Yeah, my brother is a cigarette smoking gay republican with a whole train of legal but younger loves and three dogs that don’t unterstand basic commands. He’s a repulican gay guy (as if that weren’t an issue right there). Mom has told him that he can’t park his truck (with bumper stickers) in her driveway. Mom has an O’Bama 2012 sticker on her door just to piss him off. She is clear headed. I’m the one that shows up and stays the night in emergency settings. Sister has the health care proxy just in case Mom strokes out. Mom’s perception of my care is “don’t tempt me, put her down” Oh so tempting but not a reality. Mom, not living with us, priceless. Me spending a night there, best possible option. She’s fine, and might actually talk with her doctors, MAYBE. She likes to pretend it didn’t happen. She won 75 cents at the Bridge came today. I guess her world is perfect. and she’s stil not living with us, so our world is perfect as well. Yeah, as if.


  11. I’m trying to do a cognitive reframe on this situation (rumored to be mentally healthy by the joymongers; they love to do this on my blog posts).. So, your mother has discriminating tastes. Having her emotions aroused by Annie is good for circulation. This is the little rough patch that precedes a friendship that will last a lifetime. What a good job the staff is doing in monitoring their residents! Take heart and count your blessings.

    F%#& that. Get her OUT of there so you can have some peace!


    • Hahaha! So far, Nance, the joymongers haven’t invaded this post. Mostly it’s people who’ve been (or currently are) in the same leaky boat and can relate.

      We’re shooting for Wednesday for her move to the Retirement Center. Today we’re getting her bed and some furniture over there to have it all set up ahead of time. I was there last night, coincidentally, for a piano recital of my granddaughter’s. One lady I spoke with had only been there two weeks but she loved it. She said she had a nice new home in San Antonio but “Here, I don’t have to cook!”


  12. Hey, I hope the move goes well for both of you and your mom. Sometimes we all need a little break of good luck. Sorry if I overstepped in my last responses. Mom living on the cusp of independent/needy, well, she could very well live in that place for a very long time. With acknowledgement to Nance, perhaps I shouldn’t have said anything but hey, we’re all in this together, or so I thought. Sure,I have rough patches, so do you, and don’t we all? Wether it involves parents or not. And as for you Mom having a friendship with Annie? Not so friggen’ much. Just keep playing that card and your Mom, with any luck at all, will get an actual private room. Here’s hoping.


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