I want to tell you about a particular day of my life that was very confusing and traumatic for me. I was in the first memory care facility (before moving to the good one). It was very expensive and luxurious. I’d been there just under two weeks. It was three months before I died.
But first – some important background detail.
And please don’t skip ahead to the video before reading everything – otherwise the video will be out of context, and misunderstood.
The little man who stalked me.
One of the residents was a man who looked to be only in his 50s. He was a happy fellow, but obnoxious. It seemed he was always in my face. And he frequently startled me by suddenly running up to me, and yelling,
“I love you! I love you! I love you! You are my sunshine, my only sunshine!!”
I tried to be kind, at first.
It seemed clear that he wasn’t right in the head. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. But he was relentless. And staff never attempted to dissuade his advances. He seemed to be their “little darling.” And they laughed amongst themselves when he approached me like this. It was entertainment for them.
I was his captive audience, having been wheelchair bound, and couldn’t get away from him.
Now keep in mind that I had dementia. And his incessant verbal displays of affection were becoming too much for my mental and emotional nerves.
He progressed to touching me.
He touched my hair. My face. My hands. My blouse. This was beyond acceptable, and staff did nothing to stop him, no matter how many times I complained. Other residents sympathized with me, but had no power to convince staff to make him stop. Staff seemed to enjoy his displays of affection for me. I did not. And I finally yelled at him,
“Stop it! Get away from me!”
But he persisted. I finally swatted at him in a desperate attempt to make him go away. He did stop. But nearby staff reprimanded me.
“Mrs. Snow! We do not hit! He was just trying to be nice to you!”
Then he found my room.
That little man found my room, and came in once. I was terrified, and yelled out for staff. They finally came and removed him, after several minutes of having to endure his harassment. After that I was afraid to be in my room alone.
During the day, I had a privately paid caregiver stay with me, but at night I was pretty much on my own in my room. I couldn’t afford 24/7 private care – else I’d have stayed in my home. So I stayed outside my room for as long as possible to avoid the possibility of him coming for a visit.
I didn’t want to go back to my room, alone.
One night I was particularly uncomfortable about that man, and didn’t want to go back to my room to sleep. It was late – around 10:30pm. A staff person announced it was bedtime, and proceeded to wheel me to my room.
I told her I didn’t want to go yet. And I told her why. She ignored me, and started to push my wheelchair. So I spoke in a loud voice to her. She still ignored me. I swatted in her direction, which was behind me. She stopped, turned on her heels, marched to the nearby nurse station, and called Janet.
An angry call to Janet.
“Your mom is out of control. She just hit me! And you’re gonna need to come here and settle her down.”
“Ok,” Janet said, “I’ll be right there.”
So Janet got out of bed, and started to get dressed when her phone rang again. This time it was a different staff person.
Never mind. All is well.
“Hi. This is Erika. I’m so sorry Debbie called you to come down here. You’re mom is ok. She just wants to stay up with us – doesn’t want to go to bed yet. And it’s ok. She can hang out with me.”
“So I don’t need to come?”
“No. Heavens no. Again, I’m so sorry that Debbie called you like that.”
Janet returned to her bed, and went back to sleep. About 30 minutes later, her phone rang again.
The angry call encore
“Hi. This is Debbie, again. Your mom will NOT go to bed, and she’s yelling and screaming out of control, and I just want to let you know that we’re calling EMS for a transport to the hospital for a psych evaluation.”
“No no! I’ll be there in ten minutes. Do not send her anywhere!” Janet said.
Debbie lied. I was not yelling and screaming. I was just sitting there. If I had been loud, Janet would’ve heard me over the phone. I was sitting maybe 10 feet from phone area.
Janet found me sitting quietly when she arrived.
“Let’s go back to your room, Mom,” Janet said.
“Okay,” I said.
Janet pushed me to my room. From there she called the facility director to inform her of what happened. And to stop them from calling EMS. The director agreed, and apologized.
Janet then called one of my private caregivers to come and sit with me awhile. My caregiver came.
A few minutes later, angry Debbie came to my room.
“Did you tell your caregiver how violent you were tonight, Mrs. Snow?” Debbie said.
“Why I wasn’t violent. What in the world are you talking about?” I said.
“Yes you were. You refused to go to bed, and . . . “
“You go on and get out of here. My caregiver is with me, now. And you’re just trying to cause trouble,” I said.
Debbie pointed her finger in my face, and said, “That’s it! You’re getting transported out of here to a PSYCH WARD!!”
She turned and left.
The next day, breakfast and lunch in solitary.
A breakfast tray was served in my room. No one even asked to take me to the dining room. They simply sat a tray on my table, and left.
A couple hours later, two staff came to help me get dressed, and into my wheelchair. We got along fine. They put the tray table in front of me, then a third staff person came, and put a lunch plate on my tray table. They all left my room, and closed my door.
I nibbled at my food, then fell asleep. Janet worked from home that day, and kept an eye on me through the camera she placed in my room. She could see I had just been sitting quietly all day so far.
Just before 2pm, Janet got a call from a sheriff deputy.
“Is this Janet?” he said.
“This is Deputy Smith. I’m calling to inform you, mam, that we’re about to transport your mom to the hospital for a psych evaluation.”
“What?? Why?” Janet said.
“Because your mom’s behavior is out of control, and she is a danger to herself and others.” the deputy said.
“When? I’ve been watching her in the camera all day, and she’s done nothing but sit quietly alone in her room,” Janet said.
“Well that’s what they told us, mam. And that’s what we’re going on,” the deputy said.
“Well that’s not correct. You’ll see when you get into her room that’s she’s not behaving violently. I do not want her taken to the hospital. This is ridiculous,” Janet said.
“We’re taking her, mam.”
“No you’re not. I’m her POA, and I’m telling you no!”
“Mam, I just called to inform you. When we get a call like this, it’s not up to you. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re ok with it, or not.”
“Well I’m NOT okay with it. Where are you taking her?” Janet said.
“I don’t know yet. Someone will call and let you know.”
No one ever called Janet.
She drove while calling around to all the many hospitals in San Antonio to find me. Then she reviewed the video (below) to finally hear someone say the location.
When Janet got to the ER where I was, she talked to the doctor.
“Are you Mrs. Snow’s daughter?” the doctor said.
“Yes. And I’m pretty upset that they brought her here for a psych evaluation. She was doing nothing wrong,” Janet said.
“Yeah, that’s kind of our take, too. She’s upset. But her mental state is normal. They said the facility wants her admitted to our psych ward, and wants her on antipsychotic medication – but I don’t see any need for that. She’s really upset with you, though, because she thinks you authorized this,” the doctor said.
“I know. I watched the video. They lied to her about that,” Janet said.
“It does look like she’s got the start of a UTI, though – so we’ll admit her to a medical floor for treatment,” the doctor said.
The memory care facility insisted I be drugged as a condition to return.
The memory care facility nursing director kept in touch with the hospital social worker, and demanded that I be put on antipsychotic medication. Of course that did not happen. The facility said I could not come back unless they started me on medication. Janet had no intention of sending me back there, so that was a moot point. In fact it was after this fiasco that she found the last memory care facility I stayed in, which was a true blessing from God.
But back to the day the facility had me transported to the hospital.
That was confusing and frightening to me in a couple of ways. I could not understand why they were doing that to me.
And I especially could not understand why Janet would agree to something like that.
I was the one with dementia, but I truly thought she had lost her mind.
It wasn’t until she met up with me at the ER that I learned she had not “okayed” any of it. When she entered my room, I was livid with her.
“Just go on and get out of here,” I said to her, “I don’t even want to look at you for doing this to me!”
“I didn’t do it, Mom. In fact I tried to stop it. I would never hurt you like this. You know that.”
Well I did know that. But both the paramedics and deputy lied to me – said it was Janet who wanted me to go.
All this because I swatted at the facility’s darling resident for molesting me, was afraid to be in my room alone, and spoke sharply to the staff person who instigated this.
When I went to the next memory care facility, Janet was told that the family of the man who bothered me tried to get him in there, but they could see that his problem was more mental psychosis than dementia, and wouldn’t accept him.
Now you can view the video below since you’ve got the full context.
The video is 8 minutes long. It starts out with me sitting quietly to illustrate I was not causing any trouble for myself or others.
The audio cuts out a couple times toward the end of the video. That is because Janet had just started to watch through the camera, and was speaking through the cam speakers to try and tell me she disagreed with all of this, and would meet me at the ER to straighten things out. But I could not hear her voice from the hallway. The cam audio does not record when someone is speaking through it, remotely. When she tried to speak the second time (when audio goes silent), the staff person responds by saying, “Come on, let’s close the door.”
The instigator positions herself in the corner behind the recliner.
The video is intentionally pixelated and inverted to “protect the guilty.”
Final thoughts . . .
It is frightening to think how dishonest and manipulative people can be to get what they want. The facility wanted me sedated so I would stop complaining about that male resident – which took up their time. The paramedics and sheriff deputy lied to make their job easier – even though it caused me to temporarily mistrust the person in charge of my life, Janet.
Thank God the ER did not go along with all the shenanigans that were happening. And thank God for guiding me to the next memory care facility to live out the last two months of my life in a positive environment where I truly felt cared about. There was one staff person at the next place who abused me – but she was fired immediately after Janet produced video footage of the incident.
If you are the loved one of someone living in a facility, I urge you to put a camera there, to maintain close contact with your loved one, and believe anything they tell you that is wrong. Most times, when a patient tells a family member something bad about a facility or staff member, it is true – even though there’s always going to be a staff person to say the patient was confused, and imagined things.
Believe your loved one.
Even with dementia, we know right from wrong. We know when we’re being mistreated. And if you don’t believe us, we may stop trying to tell you, and simply suffer in silence. Every single time I told Janet about a wrongdoing, she investigated to find out it was true.
Sometimes it’s difficult for someone with dementia to explain the details – but always, always listen and investigate fully.