The facility where mom lives offers transportation for the residents to the grocery store twice a week, the bank once a week, weekly trips to local churches and transportation to and from doctor visits.
At the most, my mom takes advantage of this twice a month. Usually to the grocery store. A few times a year she goes with them to a local live theatre event. Since we are so close we do most of her driving for her plus I enjoy the time with her.
But this past Friday we had an incident. I hadn't planned on spending any time with her so I encouraged her to go to the grocery store with them... just to get out and look around. They take them to the same store everytime, leave them and come back to get them in intervals over an hours time. For example, they take 5, go back to the residence to pick up a few dawdlers, deliver them to the store and bring a few home and then continue this process for a few hours. I feel confident letting mom do this ..she is still capable. Well, this time she came out and an employee of the store told her that they had just left her. Innocent that she is, said.."Oh that's okay, I'll just walk home". It's a few miles on a busy road with no sidewalks!!
The store employee wouldn't allow it so she put mom in her own car and drove her back. I didn't find out about it for several hours when mom remembered to tell me. SO I called the lady at the front desk and asked if she knew anything about it. SHe denied that it could ever happen..NONONO...could never happen! Well, I asked to talk to the head of transportation and was told the driver was out til Monday (tomorrow). SO, I was ...um...hot to say the least! THEY LEFT MY MOTHER!!!
Now, to be fair I have no idea yet if they had still planned to go back to get her but it is upsetting. I think though that if they had gone back and not found her it would have been known by the lady at the front desk who sees everything. But then she didn't even know mom had been brought back by a store employee!
Knowing that mom's residence might just deny it ever happened by saying mom is old and crazy and doesn't know what she is talking about, I went to the store myself to find the person who took care of mom and drove her back. I spoke to the manager and she found the name of the person but, unfortunately, she had left for the day. So we bought her a gift certificate to a local restaurant as a thank you gesture and left it with the manager. While there we asked the manager if this type of thing happens often and she assured us it does not.
So my question is ..should I just talk to the driver to find out her version and get an idea of how they operate...for example, do they keep a head count for God's sake???? Or should I go straight to the head honcho over the whole place. Ask him their procedure and remind him that he doesn't want my mother missing and his facility on the nightly news! I just hate confrontations and I am timid til pushed and if I hear one word that it is her fault I will probably wrestle someone to the ground...now that wouldn't do any good would it. Hah
Since both the store and your Mom told the same story, I think it is true. The facility may say it never happened. But you know it did. Since they seem to shuttle back and forth, the real error was made by the store clerk who told your Mom "they left without you." What she should have said was "they will be back in a little while."
But my real question is, are the people they bring to the store lucid enough to be there alone and wait for the next shuttle back?
Or do they, like your Mom, think they have to walk home?
If your Mom is the only one in that state of mind, they need to be told "no more trips for her." The NH where my Mom was took them on outings, once to a local zoo. The bus, several nurses aides, and the patients went together, stayed together and came home together. Not one patient was ever left out of sight of the personnel. This was necessary since all of them were in various stages of dementia.
What sort of facility is it, assisted living or a nursing home? These two types of facility have widely varying levels of care - from constant attention from wake up to go to bed (and also all night) to occasional assistance only when needed. Your Mom must have the right level of care for her level of this disease.
Don't be timid - ask in a nice way, do not blame, and everything will work out.
The facility is a large campus with stages of care in 3 different buildings. Mom is in the independent living facility with eyes all around her. She lives in a one bedroom apartment. She does no cooking and they do all of her cleaning. The staff is aware of everyone in the building and have meetings every Monday to discuss anyone they feel needs attention. Mom is somewhere in the middle of the residents there...some very lucid still driving their own cars and some are in a fog with special nurses all day. Mom comes and goes as she wants within the properties... even can still walk the property alone though she doesn't leave the property. We watch her abilities closely so when the day comes that she needs more supervision it will be there.
The other building is an assisited facility but mom doesn't need that yet..and the final building is a nursing home for the later stages. She really is fine with going to the store but she also is still independent but unrealistic in what her abilities are...she honestly thinks she can walk anywhere!! When I remind her that she is 85 she is always surprised! Makes me laugh.
They have been late in picking them up before and she and a few others have waited up to an hour but this time since the store employee told her they left without her that is when the problem came up. I too questioned whether the employee was the problem but I won't know until tomorrow when I talk to someone to see if they even knew she wasn't back yet or not.
I'll know more tomorrow whether or not I will disuade her from traveling alone anymore without me or other family.
don't be so fast to judge that the facility was at fault. I would go to the head of the place and just ask for the manual that describes in detail the procedures for store shopping. If they don't have one, they should get one made up asap.
I see a bus bring people to the store near my job. I see them sitting on the bench and waiting for the bus to come back and pick them up.
They may have just left to make the circuit to the center and then would've come back not only for Mom but anyone else still in the store.
But you are right. They should do headcounts -- record names of who went to the stores and check them off that they came back.
Let us all know what you found out. But again, it may be your mother came out just a few minutes after they left for trip 3 of 5. I agree that you need to find out the procedure and then tell your mother how it should work.
But, please don't assume that only you guys can provide for mother's care. You will be taking on more burden and then what are you paying them for?
There is a big difference in going in asking for information and going in with guns loaded. I would absolutely want to talk to the bus driver and the lady involved to see what they had to say about the incident. I would also talk to the administrator to find out what the policy is and how they keep a head count of who is out and who is back.
The facility Mom and Dad were in had the same service for those with enough cognitive awareness to participate but it was one bus, heads were counted, and they came back when all were back on the bus. There was no shuddling back and forth which makes it easier to lose people.
From here you need to determine if your Mom is capable of making these trips. If she is going to walk back then it might be time for her to give up the trips.
Investigate what happened with logic and an open mind. If you determine that wrong doing happened then logically write it up and give it to the administrator for investigation. Then determine if Mom is able to make these trips and if you think they are safe for her. That will determine what is done in the future. It may be best that you had a day before any confrontation. I have found it's better to sit back for a day, investigate, and think it through. Then you can go in with logic and good sense and not emotionally charged. Having sat on the other side of that desk.... emotional basket cases are dismissed but logical clear thinking questioning is addressed.
You're right, Deb. It was good I had some time to cool off.
This morning I went in and asked to speak to the woman who drove the bus. SHe wasn't there but another man in transportation came to the desk unaware of why I was there and we had a calm conversation. The lady at the desk..(a different one than the one I spoke to on the phone last Friday)..was surprised at the story I had to tell. The man was very understanding and said if he thought any of his residents were missing he would have ALL cars out looking.. we came to an understanding and left it with him planning on questioning the driver as to if she knew where mom was...and how she got back. He also assured me that she does know the number of people she transports. But, again, he promised me he would take care of it. It was all calm and rational and I felt good about it. I went upstairs to get mom and take her for a short drive and as we were leaving I saw the bus driver so I took that opportunity to speak to her directly. Again, I calmly explained the situation and her response was quite different from the man.
I asked her if she knew how many people she drops off and she answered dryly, "No, this is an independent facility". I responded that yes I understood that but does that mean she has no idea if they all come back?? She replied with the same answer. "No, this is an independent facility." I thanked her for her time and left and went directly to the desk and asked to speak the the manager of the facility. He was in a meeting so she took my info for him to call me. He is known not to return calls immediately so if I don't hear from him today I will call tomorrow.
After I took mom out for a while I came back and walked the facility looking for him. Even went to his office since he is always saying he has an open door policy...he wasn't there. So now I wait for his call. I will request a meeting and then go have a sit down with him. I can't believe he would be in agreement to not have a tally of the number of people they transport.
I am an independent adult in complete control of my faculties and when I go on a cruise or any other escorted trip they make sure I am signed in AND out. I expect nothing less from mom's facility.
Mom really is okay to still make these trips and we are always telling her she can't walk places. Since she lost her driving privileges she just thinks she'll walk. Oy. And she would if we let her! She lived in major cities all of her life and walked everywhere. SHe still has that mindset.
She understands that she should sit and wait on the bench for the bus to come get her but this time the store employee threw her off by telling her they weren't coming back. Which then resulted in her thinking she had to fend for herself.
Things worked out this time but I would think the manager of the facility would want to safeguard his residents from future snafus.
I think the person who actually drove the bus gave you the honest answer. As an "Independent Living" resident, she is just that - she can come and go as she wishes. Perhaps it is time to upgrade her to "Assisted Living". Then they may watch out for her a little more.
We have a facility near here which has everything from independent living to nursing home. Those in independent living often drive their own cars. If not, they also have bus service to church and shopping. They are responsible to get back to the bus at a certain time, but most of the drivers will wait and look for a missing person - or, they go in pairs, two lady friends mostly, and watch out for each other. If they miss the bus, they are considered lucid enough to call the facility on either a cell phone or a public pay phone, and get someone to pick them up. Just the idea that your Mom expected that walking home was the only option tells me that she is not thinking all that clearly - my Mom also walked all over the place and took public transportaion most of her life (In NYC) but into the middle stages of AD, she could not find her way home from the bus stop or find the bus stop at all .. that was when we got her a Home Health Aide to stay with her. Later she was in a NH.
I agree with Martha, the idea that your Mom would walk back is frightful.
I have taken many trips with the local high school band. These are 16 to 19 year olds and I would never leave a stop without a head count. THe story you got the first time was the way it should be. WHat you got from the bus diver is probably how it is. I would absolutely talk to the director and see what his thoughts are. It will be interesting to see what he says.
I did not get a return call yet from the director. But I made it a point to tell the woman at the front desk that I was still waiting for it when
I picked mom up early to take her to a scheduled doctor's appointment.
( she gets bi weekly shots of aranesp for low red blood count)
I write and one of my short plays was being performed in a musical review by some friends at a community center today so I thought maybe I would take mom with me..
but first, after the doctor's I took her downtown to peruse one of her favorite bookstores, ( doesn't matter she can't concentrate any longer to read..she enjoys the feel of the books around her )
then to the coffee shop where we got her favorite cup of coffee and a biscotti..then we drove out west of town to the Olive Garden where she likes the soup and salad. She ate like a dutch farmhand I might add!
We then went to the performance..it lasted an hour and a half and she beamed through it all...sang along when asked and when they got to the piece I had written she beamed twice as brightly.
We left and as I was driving her home and she looked over at me and said, "this was the best day"! It was almost like old times.
I also told her today that she and I would be flying out to LA in two weeks to visit my brother. She is very excited. She loves to travel and did a lot of it before she was diagnosed about 9 years ago.
We have found that keeping her on a schedule of sorts works best for her but she has been doing so well that my brother and I thought we would try a little away time with her. We flew home with her to the midwest last fall for a week and before that she flew out to his place alone last spring for a few weeks but this year I am going too. I just feel better going with her this year...plus I enjoy being with my brother.
We do find that after trips there is a loss of abilities ( speech and more short term memory problems) but then they seem to even off, though not regaining the lost abilities...but heck, we figure if she can still do it then we should let her LIVE her life while she still can before the disease takes her over completely.
I dropped her off at the door and as she headed in she said she was going to go get her suitcases out of the "hole". An example of her difficulty with finding words. She meant her storage unit.
She thrives on attention and I don't have plans to see her for a few days so I'm sure she'll be complaining about how boring life is aorund there.
But she has LA to look forward to so I'm sure the next few days will be spent with her searching for her "things" to take. Which means she'll be spending most of her time searching under her bed.
Boy, I got way off track here but it was a good day...nice to report those, huh?
It is always delightful to hear of a good day. I am so glad you and your Mom had a splendid day together and I hope they are many more. Keep after that director. I'm sure he's dodging you and lurking in the shadows but persistence pays off.
Oh yes, he's hiding. Great story meg of a wonderful day with your Mom. We can still have those too. After one day Mom is complaining that she is very lonely at this place............ Where am I anyway?? Thats what I thought... I was just checking.........
Still no word from him, so my husband ( in his deepest and most official voice) has now called and requested a formal meeting before the next monthly check is due.
And mom called me this morning at 8 and said in her most chirpy voice. "what's going on today?"
I had to laugh. I told her NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING. So she said, "I guess I will just stay home and rearrange my towels on the top shelf. "
Again I had to laugh. I asked her if she could reach her top shelf. SHe said if she couldn't she would climb on a chair. I said ..well, be careful because if you fall I will have to go to Los Angeles by myself. She thought twice about that chair!
She has called 3 or 4 more times since so I know she didn't climb on that chair.
Finally we met with the director. He looked not happy to see us. So we got in the office . We sat down and I asked him if he knew why we were there.
And he glumly said, "to talk about the rent?" I bust out laughing. He had no idea. (which did not make him happy that he had been kept in the dark)
So we proceeded to explain what had happened. He was appalled!
I told him the driver said that "this is an independent facility and they are on their own". Before it came out of my mouth completely he said..."that's not the right answer"!!!
He said that the biggest misconception of independent facilities is that the residents are on their own. He said the only difference between his independent building and the assisted living residence is that in the independent one he is not responsible for their health care. BUt they are responsible for their safety. And certainly for their safe return if they are taken somewhere. He said we are not expecting too much to assume our mother will get home safely. He said he would address the problem in a manner that would not involve mom and said if we heard of any repercussions toward mom to come to him immediately.
He said he would make sure that mom definitly would not be left at the grocery store again. Which did make us all laugh because quite frankly she could shop til she dropped!
We spent a total of about 20 minutes with him. We never felt rushed and he thanked us profusely for coming to him with a problem that could eventually result in tragedy. I did mention to him on the way out that he should be happy I had a week to calm down. He was....and even happier that we weren't there to talk about the rent.