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Yes Norma, You're Still my Mom: A Yarmouth update in a daughter's own words about her mom who has Alzheimer's

Tam MacPhee spends time with her mother Norma Tedford at the long-term care facility Norma lives in.
Tam MacPhee spends time with her mother Norma Tedford at the long-term care facility Norma lives in.

YARMOUTH, N.S. – Last year the Vanguard brought you the story of Tam MacPhee and her mother Norma Tedford.

Norma has Alzheimer’s and Tam was carrying for her mother in the MacPhee home. For mother and daughter, their roles were now reversed. When we asked Tam in the story 'Yes Norma, You're My Mom,' why she calls her mother by her fist name she told us, “Because if I call her mom, she doesn’t always remember she’s my mother.”

In the past year Norma has spent time in three senior’s homes. First she was in Caledonia, a two-hour drive away. Then she was in Meteghan, closer to home. Now she’s at Villa St. Joseph du Lac, minutes from the MacPhee home.

Tam still looks after Norma. In her own words Tam describes what things are like now.

 

 

By Tam MacPhee

My mom Norma Tedford has always been a strong woman. She never had an easy life.

She worked hard to raise us and for everything she ever had.

She lived as simple as possible. Normal is 70 years old and Alzheimer’s has robbed her of her senior life. I spent over a year helping her in her apartment daily. She also spent a year living in my home. She has spent the last year living in three different long-term care facilities.

The road has been long but I can say she is finally close to home and settled into Villa St. Joseph du Lac. Her days consist of sitting in a chair with a seatbelt, unable to walk on her own since she fractured her hip back in October 2015. She is confined to the “safe chair.”

She is happy most days and I love to see her smile. Often she stares at me with a look of appreciation, other days she stares at the wall or empty space as I wonder what she is thinking of or trying to figure out.

She still talks and although most of the words are jumbled together, occasionally she says something that I can understand and she may even ask a question. I cherish those days when she has these clear moments.

Before this journey when mom was healthy, I never realized how residents of seniors’ homes actually lived. Sure, I knew the basics. But now that I am there everyday with my mom I see their lives so much clearer and it’s sad.

Norma’s days consist of three meals, toileting times, two walks per day when three of us – physio people and family members – can assist, which is not always possible.

She watches TV, plays with an activity blanket and a toy Elmo, watches more TV and has an evening snack. On nice days I take her outside in her chair for some fresh air. Occasionally there may be an hour of music where a band plays. Norma enjoys being taken to the chosen area in the building to listen. There are other activities and outings, but they are not always suited to all residents.

We need to remember there are 24 hours in a day and the amount of time Norma (and all residents) are on their own to stare at a TV or walls weighs heavily on my mind.

 

Norma cannot ask for what she needs. She cannot ring a buzzer. She can’t holler to a nurse because she has forgotten how to ask for anything. For three years I have been her voice, trying to advocate for what I feel she needs and deserves. I just try to cover her basic needs.

I am there daily with my mom for hours. I often do little extras for her. My brother is often there too. Most residents barely get a visitor and if they do it tends to be for a short visit. I often ask myself, are we really putting our loved ones in these homes and assuming all is well? The nurses are awesome and mom is quite comfortable with most of them, but their time is spread between 13 residents on Norma’s wing. There are 2 CCAs doing the hands-on care. One, when the other is on break. They are busy most days and one-on-one time with residents rarely happens.

I want more for mother and all seniors. They are lonely and the best gift anyone can ever give them is their time. Maybe to talk. Maybe just to listen. Possibly to read them a book, show them pictures, walk with them through the halls, go along with their stories whether it makes sense or not, and just be there to hold their hands.

 

We all need to remember their days are long. Time is precious and spending time with them is rewarding to our hearts and souls.

A doctor once told me Alzheimer’s causes the longest funeral grieving period of all diseases. I have come to see what she meant as I say goodbye to little pieces of my mother each day, week, month and year.

Memories of how she used to be are cherished. Thankfully she still has her beautiful smile and laugh.

 

 

 

Norma has Alzheimer’s and Tam was carrying for her mother in the MacPhee home. For mother and daughter, their roles were now reversed. When we asked Tam in the story 'Yes Norma, You're My Mom,' why she calls her mother by her fist name she told us, “Because if I call her mom, she doesn’t always remember she’s my mother.”

In the past year Norma has spent time in three senior’s homes. First she was in Caledonia, a two-hour drive away. Then she was in Meteghan, closer to home. Now she’s at Villa St. Joseph du Lac, minutes from the MacPhee home.

Tam still looks after Norma. In her own words Tam describes what things are like now.

 

 

By Tam MacPhee

My mom Norma Tedford has always been a strong woman. She never had an easy life.

She worked hard to raise us and for everything she ever had.

She lived as simple as possible. Normal is 70 years old and Alzheimer’s has robbed her of her senior life. I spent over a year helping her in her apartment daily. She also spent a year living in my home. She has spent the last year living in three different long-term care facilities.

The road has been long but I can say she is finally close to home and settled into Villa St. Joseph du Lac. Her days consist of sitting in a chair with a seatbelt, unable to walk on her own since she fractured her hip back in October 2015. She is confined to the “safe chair.”

She is happy most days and I love to see her smile. Often she stares at me with a look of appreciation, other days she stares at the wall or empty space as I wonder what she is thinking of or trying to figure out.

She still talks and although most of the words are jumbled together, occasionally she says something that I can understand and she may even ask a question. I cherish those days when she has these clear moments.

Before this journey when mom was healthy, I never realized how residents of seniors’ homes actually lived. Sure, I knew the basics. But now that I am there everyday with my mom I see their lives so much clearer and it’s sad.

Norma’s days consist of three meals, toileting times, two walks per day when three of us – physio people and family members – can assist, which is not always possible.

She watches TV, plays with an activity blanket and a toy Elmo, watches more TV and has an evening snack. On nice days I take her outside in her chair for some fresh air. Occasionally there may be an hour of music where a band plays. Norma enjoys being taken to the chosen area in the building to listen. There are other activities and outings, but they are not always suited to all residents.

We need to remember there are 24 hours in a day and the amount of time Norma (and all residents) are on their own to stare at a TV or walls weighs heavily on my mind.

 

Norma cannot ask for what she needs. She cannot ring a buzzer. She can’t holler to a nurse because she has forgotten how to ask for anything. For three years I have been her voice, trying to advocate for what I feel she needs and deserves. I just try to cover her basic needs.

I am there daily with my mom for hours. I often do little extras for her. My brother is often there too. Most residents barely get a visitor and if they do it tends to be for a short visit. I often ask myself, are we really putting our loved ones in these homes and assuming all is well? The nurses are awesome and mom is quite comfortable with most of them, but their time is spread between 13 residents on Norma’s wing. There are 2 CCAs doing the hands-on care. One, when the other is on break. They are busy most days and one-on-one time with residents rarely happens.

I want more for mother and all seniors. They are lonely and the best gift anyone can ever give them is their time. Maybe to talk. Maybe just to listen. Possibly to read them a book, show them pictures, walk with them through the halls, go along with their stories whether it makes sense or not, and just be there to hold their hands.

 

We all need to remember their days are long. Time is precious and spending time with them is rewarding to our hearts and souls.

A doctor once told me Alzheimer’s causes the longest funeral grieving period of all diseases. I have come to see what she meant as I say goodbye to little pieces of my mother each day, week, month and year.

Memories of how she used to be are cherished. Thankfully she still has her beautiful smile and laugh.

 

 

 

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