Monday, June 05, 2006

Saved by the … Bed

I am awakened at 2:30 a.m. by Bea’s voice. She is trying her best to get out of bed. The covers have been pushed aside. Somehow my mother has maneuvered her way over to the edge where knees have encountered side rails.

“It’s about time!” Bea exclaims. “I want to get out of here. I need to get home.”

“You are home. It’s two am. You cannot wake me up in the middle of the night this way if I am going to take care of you. I need my sleep. You have to stay in bed. You cannot walk any more. If you get out of bed, you will fall. You might hurt yourself and end up back in the hospital. Now, please go back to sleep.”

I reposition Bea and cover her up. She promises to be quiet. I switch off the light. Five minutes later, I hear her voice again. I trot back downstairs.

“I want to get out of bed, but these rails are in the way,” she protests, now extremely agitated.

I say whatever comes into my head about the necessity of rails, in a more heated tone this time. “I cannot do a good job of taking care of you if I become sleep-deprived,” I add. “We want you to stay here at home with us, not go to a nursing home, but you have to be quiet at night.”

It occurs to me that I should not expect a person who is so confused to understand.

I change her brief and provide an Aleve, hoping it will help her relax. I peer through the window. It is pitch black outside.

I explained the problem to Nurse Jane last week. She suggested a new medication that will prevent Bea from inversing her sleep schedule. Apparently, this phenomenon happens with some elderly people.

I kiss Bea goodnight.

As I lie in bed, I reflect on how the situation would have been handled in a nursing home. Would they have sedated her if she talked into the night? Probably.

At Pleasant Bay each resident was wired to a buzzer that made a frightful noise if he or she tried to get out of a bed or wheelchair. At the time, I thought the system a bit extreme.

The nursing home has different staff for day, night, and weekends. The caregiver, who chooses to keep an elderly relative at home, is on duty 24 hours a day.

At least Bea has a bed with side rails...

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