Does anybody really know what time it is?

Mom has been getting her days and nights mixed up. The nurse pulled me aside and told me that mom is leaving her room numerous times at night to sit in a chair in the hallway. And then wander around. The aides try to get her to go back to her room but she’s stubborn. There are only a few aides on duty overnight and her wandering around has them concerned; she could fall, have a stroke, maybe try to go outside (doubtful but possible). Also, she’s being a pest.

She wants them to turn on all the hall lights. They’ve explained to her that if they do that and other residents happen to get up it will confuse them. And for the residents who have middle of the night changes or medication, the bright light will disturb them. None of this sticks. The nurse also told me that mom will ask when breakfast will be served. They tell her that it will be served at 7:00am, just like always. She accepts this answer until another resident wanders out. At this point she will report loudly that they are not serving breakfast and she doesn’t understand why.

Sometimes she calls me. I explain that it's the middle of the night, confirm when I'll be there next, then tell her to go back to bed. Ten minutes later another call. 15 minutes and yet another. Lather, rinse, repeat. She has a clock, she has a watch (that she obsessively checks), she has a calendar and she has a window. There is no lack of visual cues as to what time it is and what day it is. Or she could ask. The problem is remembering what they tell her.

We’ve had the same conversation over and over. And we’ll have the same conversation again. It’s the nature of the disease. I’ve told her to first look out her window. It’s a big one and takes up almost an entire wall of her apartment. If it’s dark outside, it’s night time and she needs to go back to bed. If it’s light out, she can go about her day since her friends will be up, too. And to back all this up, I’ve written it down in neat little bullet points. I can’t get upset with her – it’s not her fault.

Her wanderings have made it necessary to increase her level of care. It’s also an increase in rent that puts us barely south of $4000 a month. If she would just stay in her room when it’s dark…

Nopity, nope, nope. Logic has no place here.