Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Family changes

Last week we made the difficult decision to move my grandmother and great aunt into an assisted living facility. They are 91 and 88 year-old sister-in-laws who are both widowed and have shared a home for a few years. As time has passed we've had to add more and more people and time to help with their care. They have gradually become totally dependent "independent" home owners. They weren't even able to bring in their mail or newspaper any more because it was across the street. Among other things, my grandmother is weaker physically and my aunt is having more and more memory problems. My mother has very broad shoulders but the weight of all of this has been enormous. My aunt has no other family around and my grandmother has another daughter but she lives out of town. I've tried to step up and help as much as possible in recent years, especially with their doctor visits and health care. It still became overwhelming for my mother and I as more and more issue arose and problems developed.

After some recent health scares and trips to the ER in the middle of the night, their doctors helped us convince them it was time to make some changes. Their first impression was of nursing homes and they were resistant and afraid. After a visit to a nearby facility they were able to see first hand how beautiful, comfortable and active the place really was. They agreed to a trial stay and have been there one week. We are hoping, and planning, to make it permanent. We can't go back to the way it was.

It was scary to prepare for and we've had our bumps in the road already but the staff and other residents have helped make it a smoother transition. So far it's seems to be a good experience and they are adjusting better than expected. They each have nice rooms that are fully furnished (or you can bring your own), delicious meals in a restaurant style setting, active social lives (exercise class, hair salon, manicures, daily trips to town, in house events, local trips... even Wii bowling on the large screen TV in the family room), and best of all are the regular routines that are monitored by aids. Now we don't have to worry if they have fallen in the bathroom, missed their doses of medicine or skipped their meals. They are already getting stronger, healthier and more active and they get to do it with dignity.

We still have our work cut out for us and there is much to do but now all the responsibility doesn't fall on us. I've even started to have moments at recent visits where I was just the granddaughter/niece and not the hired help or chauffeur. I would do anything to help them and they do appreciate it but it had become very stressful. I have always been impressed with my mom's strength, courage and ability to do anything and everything. This has made me have even more respect for her. I'm blessed to have some tough chicks in my family and I love them dearly. I hope I will set that same example for my children.

Now I going outside to do a little gardening and read my book. Maybe after that I can get some work done on my neglected blog. I've missed you all and I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. After all, as the mother of three young men who live at home, I have free time on my hands now... HA!

As always, thanks for listening.

7 comments:

  1. it's a tough decision, but a necessary one at some point.

    My Mom recently (3 months ago) moved into a retirement place (she's 77). she's in independant living, but they also have assisted living and skilled nursing facilities there. her brother is in assisted living at the same place and her sister is in another place that specializes in alzheimers. it was something I've been trying to get her to do for about 3 yrs because I saw her slowly losing her independence and becoming isolated. it was a big adjustment, but she is very happy now. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to hear her laughing like old times.

    I hope things work out for your family and your g-mom and g-aunt are happy and healthier for the care and attention.

    Cindy

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  2. Glad to hear you found a healthy home and good care for your relatives. As a granddaughter to multiple Alzheimer's patients, I know it's not an easy road. Sending sincere thoughts, positive prayers, and warm wishes your way.

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  3. It is so difficult when you have to start parenting your parents. I wish my parents had made this decision years ago - now it's too late for them.

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  4. So glad to hear it's working out so far. Your mom sounds like the most amazing woman on the planet and of course the branch doesn't fall far from the tree. {{Hugs}}

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  5. It's great that they have each other. I think that must make the transition so much easier for them. My grandmother is living independently at home now and refuses to even hear a word about moving. And she has fallen and ended up in the hospital too. I think it's great for your grandmother and aunt to have each other. And it must be a big relief for you as well.

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  6. Best decision you made in the interests of everyone concerned.

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  7. I'm sure it will get easier with time and having all those amenities under one roof will be such a blessing for them both.

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