Over a year ago, I wrote about an “incident” in which dad was challenged and ended up punching out at another resident in his facility. These incidents have to be tracked and reported to the state. In that case, dad was not considered at fault because the other man threatened him.
Yesterday, though, I was telephoned in the early evening by someone from the night staff to inform me that dad had been involved in an “altercation”. Dad had been in the activity room making his way in the line for his drink at “Happy Hour”. I have heard 2 versions of this story now, but it seems that dad had trouble getting past a table of card players.
Dad got frustrated and rammed his walker into a man who was seated at the table, I believe. He ended up in a shouting and cursing match with the other resident and then he began hitting him. Both men threw punches, but no one was hurt. The “altercation” was broken up by the male activities director.
I asked how to follow up on this event and was told to call the director in the morning, as it was currently after hours. I phoned the director this morning and she was on another line. She telephoned back on a conference phone with the nurse/case manager.
We discussed dad’s behavior and how he lashes out when he gets frustrated. Dad is otherwise a very quiet, peaceful man. However on those rare events when something happens that he can’t deal with, he lashes out with shouts, curses, and hitting.
The person who called last night said they had moved the Happy Hour from the main lobby to the activities room a few months ago, and they moved the starting time to about 30 minutes earlier. She said dad was late and was not going to get a drink so he got frustrated.
However, the director this morning said that was not the case. It was “6 months” since they changed the location and time, and dad was not late nor was he about to be denied a drink. Now neither the woman who called me last night, nor the director I spoke with this morning were actually present when this occurred, so I really don’t know exactly what happened.
The director also said that the Activities leader usually comes around to remind the residents that Happy Hour is about to begin. I think dad must have been in the bathroom or something though and missed that reminder.
The director said she had to report his altercation and she had to telephone his physician. The physician might want to make a change to his medications but she didn’t expect that would happen because dad was not in altercations before. Though she did indicate that he had instantly changed from the nice quiet man he usually is into a shouting cursing man on other occasions in the past.
I stated that I would like to find a way to prevent dad from running into frustrating situations where he loses control. He will not remember this event when I call him because of his lack of short-term memory. Still, I will try to bring it up when I telephone him tomorrow. I am not inclined to call him today as I need time to mull it around in my mind first.
The director mentioned the companions that visit dad and suggested that they come around 3 so they can walk him to the Happy Hour. I had considered the same idea last night after the initial phone call. The director said it in a way that made it sound like they were “just sitting around in the lounge” but maybe it was just my sensitivity to the situation.
In fact, the companions do sometimes just sit with dad in the lounge though sometimes they get him to play checkers or to walk around a bit to get him moving. Taking him to the activity room would be another way to do that. But I have told them they are free to go at any time of the day and shouldn’t feel the necessity to always go at the same time.
This morning after I spoke with the director, I sent an email to the companions telling them what had taken place. I suggested that if it worked out with their schedules, it might be good for them to come at a time that would allow them to walk dad to Happy Hour. I like for the companions to feel they have flexibility in their schedules and to also come at various times just so the ALF doesn’t know when they will be there. Still, if they are able to be there before Happy Hour, that might help prevent a future occurrence of this type of event.
Also, now that it is the end of January, the nurse companion who had visited dad last year should be home from her vacation. I had considered the new nurse companion might just visit dad in January, but now I think I would like to just add an additional companion visit or two. I asked one of dad’s other companions if she could come one additional day as well. Thus dad could go from 3 visits per week to 5, which would increase the expense, but reduce the chances of future incidents.
I haven’t heard back from any of the companions yet, so I don’t know how this will all play out. I sent my son a copy of the email I had sent the companions. He responded immediately as he couldn’t imagine his grandfather behaving like this. I explained that it was due to the dementia and that his grandfather’s social skills were diminishing and he was now behaving like a four-year old. Since my grandson is 4, it seemed like a good comparison as every mother has seen a child melt down when he was tired and frustrated.
I am afraid that these changes in dad’s behavior could lead to a request that he move to memory care. At this time I want him to stay where he is. I am far from home and dad has been happy in his current situation. So, if possible, I don’t want to make any changes.