Friday, 16 April 2021 visits again...:-(

 So, we don't know...

Was the sad little Okaasan of our last visit just a tired old lady on that afternoon? Or, is it her general state?

Don't know. The care home has closed its doors to family visits again. Covid case numbers in Japan are growing again - March and April is the moving house/starting job or school season - so inevitably with all that people movement around the country.

Local numbers here aren't at all bad. But, still the local government is requesting only local, essential outings. Kind of hard in spring in the north country - FINALLY getting some warm sunshine and the cherry blossoms are about to explode.

There'll be a lot of local walks in the coming weeks. And hopefully, we get to see Okaasan next month.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

The Ups....and the Downs..

If you only see somebody for 20 mins a week...

Last week's visit Okaasan was laughing and bright eyed.

The staff agreed to us taking the wheelchair JUST outside the care home doors for a few moments, so Okaasan could feel the sun and wind for the first time in over a year.

Sadly, the wind from the care home parking exit was winning over the sunshine power - and we had to rush her back inside. But she was fine and we left happy.


Yesterday. A different Okaasan.

Slumped sideways in the wheelchair, with grey, almost unfocused eyes, and sunken cheeks.

We took her down to the staff canteen area and sat for our 10 mins of chat time. Although she did give us a smile and one laugh, she certainly wasn't with all. Stared to the side with hooded eyes. Moved her mouth in the goldfish gesture a bit. Stared at her hands when I sprayed the alcohol cleaner on them...and made no attempt to mimic my hand cleaning movements.

Looked shattered by life.

The staff said she'd had walking practice in the morning. And been to the toilet. 

We found her in the lounge, sitting across the table from the woman-who-sings and folds paper bits...slumped...sad.

We HOPE it was just a bad day. A sleepy moment. But her eyes looked so empty of life. We were both shocked. Bugger COVID. Now we have to wait another week to see her again.

In the UK, my oldest friend's dad has just died. I remember him in my childhood - the cool dad because he was the airline pilot, jokey, funny story-guy. His wife died a few years ago. Recently he's been living with round-the-clock care, and drugs to keep him out of pain.

Sigh. Age. What a bugger.

I so hope Dear Son and I have a good old age. Able to care for eachother. Be active and enjoy life. The just die one night while asleep.

Oh shit. Maybe not that! Waking up with a loved one who is dead next to you.

Maybe not like that!!

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Whole sentences :-)

 Okaasan spoke whole sentences, about the weather, on our visit this week!

We were so happy! Even though it was, basically, the same sentence.

Our 20 mins visit was in the middle of a spring snow storm, which makes looking out the window and talking about something harder. We had been pleased to hear from the staff that we could actually take Okaasan and her wheelchair to another floor of the care home - such freedom felt wonderful.

The elevator! Another notice board to look at, oh look - a picture on the wall!

We ended up in the open space room where oh-so-long-ago I was about to launch my career as a care home karaoke star. Over a year ago, before any of us worried about masks and a shared microphone.

One usual problem for us/Okaasan when "looking out the window" is that from her chair position she can't actually see much, since the window frame is too high. Note to care home/hospital designers: if most of your users are in wheelchairs, how about making window frames lower???

We end up positioning her chair back from the window and trying to talk about things she can see. But of course, she then doesn't know we are talking about the view FROM the window - because that is too far away. Our conversation becomes too abstract for her. It's all not so great.

But this time. The open space room window faces parking areas, and a nearby temple. But there is a black building wall to the right.

"Look it's snowing today, you can see the snow flakes!" Okaasan suddenly said, pointing to the wall. And indeed we could, SHE could. The snow flakes showed up very clearly against the wall, far better that the scene against the grey city landscape or grey sky.

She repeated this a few times, with excitement. And we shared that thrill with her. Whole words. Strung together in a whole sentence. Said with appropriate feeling.

Dementia brings such a huge change to somebody's brain. A few years ago I was enduring those looong kitchen table talks about wartime memories, and flower arrangement classes, and housewife things. Now I am so pleased to hear a simple sentence from Okaasan.

It was a good visit.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Vaccination cometh????

 Saw Okaasan again yesterday - all great.

Happy, smiley, laughing. No speaking. But she is in a good mood. Given the no-speaking, our allotted visit time of 20 mins is enough.

She gets the happy feeling of seeing us.

We feel reassured.

And, somehow, we can do a double act of chat to fill out 20 mins. What's out the window, the weather, his jacket, my mask design, my impending birthday age...Okaasan looks from face to face and smiles and makes the nodding motion, and open mouth pouting gesture.

And then we're done. Back in the elevator and out into the snow.

Care home sent a letter about the COVID-19 vaccination.๐Ÿ‘€

Japan is JUST starting vaccinations now. Health care workers. Elderly will start in April, a very very slow roll out, which will only really get going in  May. Japan bought its vaccinations from Europe, and then had a system if domestic trials to go thru.

So the general vaccination program is still a month away, at least. Healthy...fairly young people like me probably won't get the call up until late summer...

Dear Son looking at the letter: "Hmm...she hates vaccinations. She won't want it. What should I do?"

 Me: "Well, I hope we can take her out of the home this year, into sunshine, to a coffee shop.  If she picks up Covid in a coffee shop and takes it back into the home....for a few minutes of her bad feeling about injections - we should be thinking of her community - ALL the old people in that home!"

Really. He even considered NOT authorising her to get a vaccine.

Face Palm moment in a relationship.

I hate injections too. Not for the same reasons as Okaasan (general distrust of mainsteam medicine), my feelings are based on the sight of needles entering skin. TV is FULL of that image at the maybe having a feeling-numbing effect on me?

Anyway. Okaasan. I hope she gets the jab. So she can go to a coffee shop this summer.