Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Sundowners


Skies blaze as shadow casts
her dusky blanket,
sun dip-sinks below horizon. 

Twilight nags at those
who would sleep forever,
jolt-jars them from their slumber,
irritates, alters perception;
Reaper glimpsed                                                                                      
they shiver in their bones.                                                                                     
Charleston Farmhouse Door (The Mag)

Under half-dead eyes
they rise like jangled puppets,
strings pulled   ease aching limbs
from chairs that confine
like waiting coffins,
zombie-like they shuffle
until agitation animates their every action.

The Sundowners, brain atrophied,
this is their time,
a time of purpose. 
Fists, voices raised;
locked in on the other side of freedom,
they clamour at the door.

Anna :o]

Late afternoon, early evening and sometimes further into the night, some of our residents stir from their lethargy, lose their contentment, become agitated, argumentative, restless and wandersome.  These are the Sundowners who for reasons not yet quite certain are disturbed by and disorientated (at) this time of day and symptoms worsen.

Giving evening/teatime meds is fraught with distractions, little Edith will be hanging onto the bar of the drugs trolley bobbing up-and-down like a jack-in-the-box, Annie will be crying her heart out as she tugs at your sleeve, wonderful kind and pleasant Bill becomes a raging hulk demanding to know why he is kept a prisoner here and so it goes on.  The drugs trolley has become a magnet compelling all Sundowners to stick to it (and you) like glue.

Some Sundowners form escape committees – my mum did in her first residential home – sweet little mother morphing into a horrendous screaming banshee inciting her fellow residents to take action and escape this strange place they found themselves in.  As it was a residential home the door was unlocked, that is until my mother became a resident there and come early evening it needed to be locked!

In my home (where I work) some residents, confusion increased, attempt to leave the building with the day staff, adamant they have finished their shift too and demand to go home.  (We got round this by staff leaving by the back door.)

My lovely, lovely people – I hate to see them distressed.  But it will pass…

MLM’s prompt at Mindlovemisery made me think and Tess’s image prompt at The Mag gave me direction and so both these good people gave me inspiration.  Thanks MLM and Tess!  Also entered at dVerse -grateful thanks to Brian and Claudia!

Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Author/User: Fir0002

47 comments:

mindlovemisery said...

Oh wow powerful words, it was like being right there Anna, intense and tragic. I am so impressed by your inner strength. I know my aunt worked in various places mental institutions and hospices, she brought her patients home with her sometimes those who were ready to transition outside of the hospital but not quite ready for the world (the ones with no family or friends to assist) and then sometimes those dying patients with no family who didn't want to die in a hospital setting.

Brian Miller said...

wow its a bit scary...i wonder what that time of day does to them, if it is symbolic of an ending they see coming...its got to be hard but you seem to roll with this...nice verse and look into your world...

Orange UaPoet said...

Interesting, insightful and respectful of those you care for. Thank you for crafting and sharing this.

Akila G said...

such trying moments suddenly choose to radically change our living. your description is very powerful. thanks for sharing the process notes as well

flaubert said...

Anna, this is very descriptive, and a little frightening. Thanks for the glimpse into your world. My mom was a nurse for 36 years, and I never knew how she did it. Powerful write.

Pamela

Karen S. said...

Oh my, thank you for sharing this, you are a gifted writer.

Karen S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aprille said...

Don't know which is the more compelling: your poem or the explanatory prose.

Both are riveting in their anguish and hopelessness. The mystery of those locked minds and the nagging suspicion that these biochemical disorders are so close to being unraveled... but not quite.

charleslmashburn said...

an excellent poem and an extremely interesting post!

Helen said...

Early evening, as the sun began to set ... was the time I gathered as many residents in my mother's memory care facility as I could ... for a sing along to distract them from just what you have described in your eloquent poem.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Dip-sinks! Makes me think of slap-dunk!

illumine essence said...

I like it; well done.

~henna

Truedessa said...

This is an insightful poem..that makes one pause. This must be a very difficult path to follow but, you seem to have a deep understanding of that world and I would say a gift as well. Peace..

liv2write2day said...

Oh, Anna--this is so familiar. I nursed in Long Term Care for years. I love how you express this. Sacred work you do.

Gretchen Leary said...

This makes me think of how my anxious quadruples when it's nighttime. Your words gave me chills. :(

rumoursofrhyme said...

A wonderfully observed and composed piece, Anna. I've seen this too.

Kutamun said...

They dont call it the witching Hour for nothing, all the coffin lids creak open, as the conscious gives way to the umconscious, quite a creative time i find, it corresponds to the autumn ... Fascinating . Water.

Björn said...

Thank you for creating an awareness for this.. Really well described in the poem, and with the explanation it came as an additional chill

scotthastiepoet said...

Evocative writing Anna, particularly enjoyed:

"Twilight nags at those
who would sleep forever,
jolt-jars them from their slumber..."

Laurie Kolp said...

This is so sad.

Sue said...

Those last two lines are especially powerful, and thank you for the background information at the end, too.

=)

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

A lock with caring people to turn the key...heartfelt.

jabblog said...

How frightening it must be to be a Sundowner. It gives new meaning to the old saying, 'It will all look better in the morning.' How fortunate are the people you love and look after to be in your care.

anthonynorth said...

Powerful words, and in a way disturbing. Great write.

Jyoti Mishra said...

beautifully written..
good times, bad times.. all come n go

~T~ said...

Oh, poor people. What a clear description!

Martin said...

Tragic indeed ... to be locked in a double sense. Your words give them a beautiful voice.

Todd Alan Kraft said...

That's sad. I got a jolt of hopelessness and helplessness. I found the explanation as the end of the poem helpful.

Mary said...

Whew, if I were a nurse and that time of day was arriving I'd be a bit nervous each day. One of my friends whose husband has Alzheimers says the same kind of thing happens to him each day at home...not easy for her either and getting worse.

mywordwall said...

Your words are powerful and sad. It is quite heartbreaking just to contemplate how the humanity of the residents had been trapped by their mental illness, and it must be even more heartbreaking to witness that first hand.

Best regards, Imelda

Poet Laundry said...

This scenario is very intriguing...I can feel the agitation. Thank you for the process notes as well--very informative!

Dave King said...

I'm with Brian... Yes, a bit scary, as you, too, seem to find it. A new insight for me. I shall read the poem a few more times.

izzy said...

Interesting! agitation at days end-I
didn't run into this so much at our nursing home- but I do remember residents insisting it was now time for them to go home! thanks.

Vanessa V Kilmer said...

Quite unsettling - like zombies.

Claudia said...

really wondering what this is...maybe the change of light does sth. with them.. needs much wisdom from the people around..

Paige Nicole said...

My favorite prose piece in a long time. Honest and touching and a very brave poet you are.

Thank you for the background.

Kathe W. said...

Wonderful poem- for those lost souls...

Little Nell said...

Even more poignant when we read your accompanying words about your personal experience. But even without that this is a powerfullly descriptive piece.

gsb said...

a very difficult time of life for all concerned...hope your staff is more concerned with the patients than where my mother in law was for a few weeks.
very lovely poem
Old Grizz

ND Mitchell said...

You paint a bittersweet picture but with humanity. It sounds like an interesting time of day :)

kaykuala said...

It would be most trying. Not many have the gift to be tolerant. Nicely Anna!

Hank

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Nurses have my respect so so much. I can't think of too many professions that are more underappreciated. This was a beautiful write by the way.

Tess Kincaid said...

I love the notion of twilight nagging...

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your kind and much appreciated comments folks.

Old Grizz ~ the staff at my workplace are ace - care they do.

Like any healthcare facility whether hospital, GP practice, care home etc. - the facility is only as good as the people that work there.

Long time ago - when working elsewhere - I was asked what was more important - that the staff or the patients be happy. Of course I answered the latter and was wrong, the wisdom being that if the staff aren't happy - the patients certainly won't be. And how true this is.

Anna :o]

Helena said...

A stunning piece of writing. Tugged at my heartstrings quite a bit.

Jenny Woolf said...

I sometimes feel that not enough investigation is done into times of day and times of year. My great aunt, who lived in India, had a cook who went completely mad at the full moon. Everyone knew and they just made sure he was somewhere secure and safe.

mindlovemisery said...

The new prompt is up Anna =)