Thursday, 4 January 2018

New Year ....

Happy New Year dear readers!

Me at a ski resort on January annual ski-in-the-new-year trip.

So. This New Year I had none of the obligations to do anything about Japanese traditions and customs...none of the special food shopping/prepping/cooking or serving. No need to take Okaasan for walks round supermarkets and stop her buying expensive ingredients for meals she had long forgotten how to make.

This time I accepted a friend's offer for a Dec. 31st dinner in her home - ironically and usefully just two blocks away from the care home.
So I arrived at the care home at 5 pm just as all the residents were tucking into a special dinner of celebration foods in the lounge, with the TV showing old fashioned songs performed by ladies in kimono and men with hair gel.
Okaasan was in good form - telling me about the foods, about the decorations...laughing about the TV. The staff gave her the after dinner coffee, which is laced with her dementia medicines, and she drank it happily.

I stayed an hour and then headed off to my New Year at my friend's home.
What a difference from years past!


The floor manager mentioned to me something about Okaasan not being so great about going to Day Service (on another floor of the same building), something about her shouting and not feeling happy in a new place.

So, when Dear Son came home for 2 days from ski work - he went to see Okaasan. Found her happy enough - but bizarrely singing an old Tokyo summer festival song, along with the hand movements...continuously...

And he talked to the manager about the Day Service problems.

Seems, very disappointingly, that Okaasan only went to day Service ONCE. She got very agressive and shouted at people, so they took her back to her residential floor and then DIDN'T TRY AGAIN.
That is bloody amazing. And ridiculous.
One time? And they gave up?
And didn't discuss this with us? (To be fair, there was some mix up about my correct phone number)...but even so.
Day Service was meant to be a big plus in Okaasan's life in this care home - the chance to get her leg muscles strong enough by walking practice, and have more one-on-one communication and activity, such as handicrafts.
And they gave up after one bad experience?

We're not happy.
This week is still holiday in week Dear Son will go to the home and join Okaasan in the Day Service room, hoping to give her a positive feeling about it. At the last hospital she was in, September to December - the daily physical training session was something she enjoyed and we want that for her again.

Very disappointing. Maybe the staff were busy with the crisis about the norovirus outbreak etc, and they had my phone number wrong...but...but...

So. Still hoping that we have made a good decision about this place...

Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas in the care home

Happy Christmas everyone!

Here is Okaasan in her care home room - opening up the Christmas present I took her (her fave bean jam cake/dried persimmon/chocolates) and a can of sweet rice drink.
The norovirus on her floor cleared and I got in yesterday for the first visit in 2 weeks. 
She was fine - happy to see me, chatty, laughing - very relaxed actually. Sitting right in front of the big TV in the shared lounge. In her wheelchair. 
I stayed an hour. We chatted about TV programs, Christmas, food, persimmons and she was good. Took her to the toilet once. Cleaned her room a little. I didn't get her walking with the frame...I'm still nervous to do that alone with her...she isn't at all steady on her feet.

So - 2017 was a bad year for her and us...but now as it ends she seems fine in her new home. I feel a little guilty that she isn't home with us, but in a public environment - one of 30 old people to be toileted/fed/washed by staff.
But. Having her home WOULD be impossible. And dangerous. And so...

My Christmas is the usual weird one in Japan. I am actually working today, December 25th, and tomorrow. But I will finish early, have time to go to the gym and then come home to open presents sent by friends from the UK, cook myself steak, open a bottle of wine...and watch Season 2 of the The Crown on Netflix. 
Recently was crazy busy at work. I had 26 classes/work parties last week and felt exhausted.
Wonderfully two New Zealand friends have an annual Christmas dinner in their home, which I went to on Saturday - 10 guests and a LOT of food :-)

I feel nostalgic at Christmas for my family in the UK...all long gone now, of course. My mum and step-dad used to do amazing dining table centerpiece decorations - create little worlds of Christmas scenes with cotton wool, sparkly stuff and toy gnomes.... We once went to a Christmas Eve church service with real animals in the dad and his wife did wonderful Christmasses at their home in the countryside...I miss it.

This year I am alone (apart from cats) in a large house in Japan. Netflix is my companion :-) I hardly decorated the house, and tomorrow at the classroom I will take down the tree etc and prepare to close the classroom for the year end. Dear Son is at the ski instructors' winter home, he just Skyped with me from the ski area parking lot....working Christmas.

Not sad, though. This year, finally, I got Okaasan into professional care. And she is happy enough. That is a HUGE happiness!

Saturday, 16 December 2017


All set, I was.
All set for my first winter life visit to Okaasan in the care home.
Our new Normal. Yay!!!! 
No longer do I have to think of shopping and cooking for her at a weekend, and where to take her out for a walk. And sitting, having boring dinner with her....and lunch...and another dinner...

Dear Son is away ski working. Saturday morning - I collect a photo album of memories from the cats' room, take the little side table for Okaasan's room, pick up some hot can coffees from a convenience store, sign in at the care home ground floor desk and paste on my warm-friendly-smile.

Take the elevator to the 10th floor.
The doors open to a strange sight: a tray with a wet towel in it, and a dry towel are on the floor. Odd. A resident had a toilet accident here and the staff are in the midst of cleaning? I step around and make my way to the staff station and lounge.
Bustle of activity....a staff rushes up. In a face mask. Not SO surprising in Japan, when every winter half the nation hooks a paper thing round their ears in the hope of cold protection.

"Oh! So sorry! Our boss didn't call you yet? You don't know? We have a case of norovirus here, since yesterday. We can't let family members in at the moment. Maybe for one week. Can I take anything for your mother-in-law? I'm so sorry - she is fine, don't worry. It isn't her, but we have to close the ward to outside visitors!"

Then I notice the screens and trays and towels etc round one of the rooms and the elevator scene becomes clearer. That was a shoe disinfectant tray and wipe!

So, of course, I come away. Gave the side table and cloth to the staff for Okaasan's room, glimpsed her across in the lounge happily watching TV...and came away. Suddenly with a slightly emptier Saturday morning than I'd planned. :-)


Well, you know - not exactly YAY for norivirus. That's horrible for everyone, and a killer for the elderly. Of course we don't want Okaasan getting THAT. It's worrying....but all we can do is hope that the care home can get it under control and protect a whole floor of elderly residents who all share toilets/tables/chairs....

So. First time for our new Normal. And it isn't Normal at all....:-()

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Still settling....

Another week of new home uncertainties.
The doctor said the evening meds could be delivered in powdered form, so the staff have been giving them to Okaasan in her evening coffee - fine until she declares (as I expect she will sometime) : "Coffee? I NEVER drink coffee after dinner!!"

But for now good.

Dear Son continued his visits because there is a slow start to his work season. Some days Okaasan was in a good mood, other days the demons were raging and she was angry about going into the lounge, or even using the walking frame.
He came home depressed.
She will start physical training again tomorrow. It's taken the system almost 2 weeks to get THAT going...frustrating. Dear Son has taken her for walking frame walks along the corridor...otherwise she would have been inactive again for 10 days.

So. Fairly ok. A few more things are needed for her room. Things to do.

Last week should have been a week of freedom. But it wasn't because one cat got a bad urinary infection and had a high temperature for days. Vets visits (and bills) and general sleeplessness. An exhausting week.

Christmas party season is starting....