Friday, November 15, 2002


This is from Susan, the woman who runs Moorhead Manor, the assisted living facility where Mom lives...
Hello everyone...
Here are just a few general thoughts--

First, your mom has been in this sleeping mode for months and months. She is very sporadic with everything from eating, sleeping, laughing and weeping. Generally she is physically pretty healthy, she doesn't have bed sores or open skin breakdowns, and she is maintaining her weight. When I talk to her she claims that it is because she is grieving. Basically this seems to be chronic grief. Everything reminds her of her husband and sometimes she just doesn't want to face the world.

You guys have done basically everything that could possibly be done to motivate, redirect and make life better. She has been to many doctors. But if she won't follow the orders or isn't motivated to change, no one can make her. You can certainly get dietary orders from a doctor, but if she is unwilling to follow them there is nothing that anyone can do. Currently we don't give her any candy, Dolores claims that she hasn't bought anything from the cart for a very long time. I don't know where she is getting the bags of candy at all. We don't even supply them. The only thing she can get are the desserts and the snacks at snack break.

Here's the glitch. Even if you get doctor's. orders, we cannot stop her from eating whatever she likes. That is her right. For example, we have diabetics that we prepare special snacks for, if they don't want them and continue to eat sugar food, nothing we can do. We can advise that it would be better not too, but we cannot physically stop them) I cannot have the staff patrol these issues because that is not what we do. Also, if in a nursing home, they can prepare the special diets but can't enforce outside eating at all. We prepare and serve well-balanced meals with a variety of food choices, but if they choose to eat only certain items, again nothing we can do. So, doctor's orders on eating will not assist us in anyway.

I know that Trish spoke with Dianna about placement at another facility that focuses on behavior modification. To me, this could make things worse. She is not a behavior problem, she just doesn't want to be here without her husband. When I speak to her she keeps stating that I need to promise that she not be moved. But, this is not my decision, it is yours as a family. Harriet is basically not wanting to participate in life, she is weepy, she is lifeless and one can see on her face that she is sad. I have dealt with Dr. Martindale on many different levels and he is a great guy and a very good doctor. But his forte is not depression or grief. Possibly hospice (I believe that they have a grieving program), or one-on-one therapy, Lakeland mental health or an internal medicine doctor. From my experience general practitioners focus on medication, internist are problem solvers. Again, all of these appointments can be made, but if she continues to refuse to go or get help, there's not much alternative.

I truly care about Harriet and hate to see her in this mode, but possibly what she needs is just time, consideration and listening. It's like dealing with any addiction or mental health issue, one cannot control the outcome unless the person is willing to accept the help. I hope that I am not out of line on any of this, but until your mom reaches out, I don't know that there is much that can be done. We at the Manor can and will continue to try and get her involved and moving. I did speak to one of my staff who's husband died 2 years ago and she said that she has spoken to Harriet and they have had many heart to hearts. Chris did say that the second year for her was worse than the first after losing her husband. They were married for about 15 years, imagine what it must be like after 60! I don't know what this is worth, just my latest thoughts. I hope it helps in some way. Let me know if you have any response. Thanks Susan