New digs

So, there I am again, at work, thinking I can finally catch up after 1 1/2 days of scrambling to get Mom on waiting lists for other facilities in town. My phone rings, and I think to myself, if that is Noah the administrator, I might say or do something I regret. Instead, it’s the social worker. Telling me a bed has opened at the Columbus Alzheimer Care Center, and they have accepted Mom for admission and are ready for Mom to move in. Today. This was quite a shock, but there was no way I wasn’t going to jump on this chance. I told her I’d set everything in motion and we’d move her today. I called Patrick and asked him to take the day off of work. I e-mailed my sister, brother and brother-in-law to tell them it was happening today and I’d talk to them later about details. I e-mailed my boss, who was out the office, and said I needed another day off to move Mom. I updated my Facebook status with the good news. Patrick came to my office to pick up boxes, and we were off.

My plan was to take Mom to lunch and for ice cream while Patrick moved her belongings. When I got to her place, I saw Mom listening to music in her lounge and I went to the nursing station to ask if I needed to sign her out…permanently. Not necessary. They gave me some paperwork to give to her new nurse. They shared stories of her latest antics – mostly a refusal to have her hair washed in the shower. The activities aide, a young man who Mom had immediately liked, said she had spent an hour with him one day just walking around. He could tell she wasn’t mean like some people are. I thanked them for their efforts with her and said I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I said a special thanks to Stephanie for being so nice to me. I went up to Mom and asked her if she wanted to go to lunch and she said yes with no hesitation. She got up and said goodbye to her roommate, who said, “Come back,” and Mom said, “I will.” I almost choked up right there. Walking out of the building, I started right in on the news that I was moving Mom. I told her I was concerned that she wasn’t happy, and I found a new place where I thought she would get the right kind of care – she wouldn’t have people following her around all the time, telling her what to do. She seemed intrigued by the idea.

We went to Bob Evans for the usual, pot roast hash for her and a big salad for me. Then we went to Graeter’s for ice cream to take up some more time and so we could both have a treat, darn it. By this time it was 1:30 and I just wanted to get Mom to her new location and start that process. We went in and went to her room, where Patrick was separating out all breakable items to take home and sorting pictures to give to Mom for a new plexiglass frame (no glass allowed in this facility). Mom seemed to like the room. She sat in a chair while we worked on putting things away. Her roommate, B, was asleep in a chair for awhile. She woke up and came over and ran her hands over some of Mom’s T-shirts that had bright pink stripes. She can’t talk anymore, but she is mobile and she is curious. Patrick got what he needed and left – poor guy has a long class tonight for his new grad school program, plus a hand injury from work. I finished putting Mom’s clothes away. A nurse came to examine her. Looking at pictures had reminded Mom of her grandmother and she was trying to talk about the past. She finally got fed up when the nurse asked to look in Mom’s mouth, so the nurse left and said she’d try again later. I filled out an inventory of Mom’s things. The roommate came over and took Mom’s alarm clock and walked out of the room and dropped it in the hall. While I ran to my car to get Mom’s laundry, she took Mom’s glasses off of her face and dropped those in the hall, too. I found Mom lounging on her bed, not concerned about her missing glasses. B also sat next to Mom on her bed and held one of Mom’s teddy bears for awhile. She has a sweet disposition and I want to share with her, and I think Mom will be inclined to, too.

The room is bigger than her previous room, and is brighter. The facility discourages bringing much into the place to avoid falls, theft and the use of items as projectiles, I think. The TV is discouraged, and I don’t think Mom will miss it. When the housekeepers made the bed, they put a crocheted throw on for her main blanket. I love that. I need a knitting project, and I am thinking perhaps I can knit a throw for some future patient in this place.

Mom on her new bed. The buffet in the background has been in our family all of my life. Now it's her dresser.

Mom on her new bed. The buffet in the background has been in our family all of my life. Now it's her dresser.

A small stand, Mom's closet, and the door to the bathroom.

A small stand, Mom's closet, and the door to the bathroom.

The view from Mom's window. She's on the window side of the room this time.

The view from Mom's window. She's on the window side of the room this time.

We decided to take a walk around the place. On our way out of the room, an activities director stopped me to ask some questions and have me sign a few forms. I ran into my neighbor, a social worker for a hospice organization in town, which was a pleasant surprise. Then Mom and I went and sat in the lobby, and a nurse came to talk to me for a bit about what happened at Mom’s previous location. She also said to me, “I’ll bet you’ll sleep well tonight. You are probably exhausted.” This is the first time a staff member at a facility in which Mom lived has ever said such a thing to me. Later, when I was leaving for the evening, she said, “Hang in there, Emily.” This is among the reasons Mom, and I, will be better off at this facility, where the staff members know how hard Alzheimer’s in particular is for a family.

Mom in the lobby, with the front desk behind her. It's a really nice space. A little later, it filled up with residents watching a sports bloopers program on TV.

Mom in the lobby, with the front desk behind her. It's a really nice space. A little later, it filled up with residents watching a sports bloopers program on TV.

A view down the hall to the other wing. There are two wings, and Mom is in the smaller one, which actually typically houses patients with more advanced disease. Eventually, she can move to this other wing - for now, she is occupying the first available bed. I think staff will help her get to this other side for activities and more interaction with residents.

A view down the hall to the other wing. There are two wings, and Mom is in the smaller one, which actually typically houses patients with more advanced disease. Eventually, she can move to this other wing - for now, she is occupying the first available bed. I think staff will help her get to this other side for activities and more interaction with residents.

We watched sports bloopers on TV for the 4 p.m. activity. Lots of patients were wheeled in for this event. A few were able to walk in. Mom was surveying this new landscape, and I sensed she might think there were too many sick people around. She was worried about one woman who was leaning forward way out of her wheelchair. At dinner, I think Mom had similar feelings, like she was surrounded by people sicker than she is. I hope to encourage her to go to the other side of the building, where most patients are not as advanced as they are in her wing, so she’ll feel a little more comfortable. She put dog/cat and three other stuffed animals on the dining room table and said maybe the other people at the table would like them, too. I told her she has a nurturing side to her – that she likes kids, and she cares about people who seem sick or in need of help. “Really?” she said. But it’s true. She turned to the woman to her right, in a tipped-back wheelchair, and said, “What’s your name?” The woman was named Frieda. Mom didn’t tell her her own name. I had told Mom I would be leaving when she had dinner – this was while we were still watching bloopers. She got a little fretful at that time and said she was afraid to be alone. That she was nervous. I told her staff would look after her and do all they could to make her feel at home. I told her I would be back tomorrow, but I had to get home to let the dogs out of their crates and check in on work. She didn’t like it, but she was not particularly angry. Sort of resigned to it. “Let’s not do this again,” she said. I assume she meant let’s not move again. She also said, “Am I going to be here the rest of my life?” I told her let’s think in terms of one day at a time. We don’t have to decide anything about her whole life now. She let me kiss her goodbye.

I took one more photo before I left.

A picture of Mom from high school, taped above her bed. She had this photo taped to her wall in her assisted living apartment, so we have kept it close to her since then.

A picture of Mom from high school, taped above her bed. She had this photo taped to her wall in her assisted living apartment, so we have kept it close to her since then.

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8 comments so far

  1. Tom on

    So glad this seemed to go well. I checked out their website and it seems like the perfect place. Your photos seem to confirm that; It seems so filled with natural light and inviting spaces. I hope this is a huge weight off of your shoulders and that you are able to kick back tonight and relax a bit. Once again, you amaze me.

  2. momsbrain on

    Aw, shucks, Tom, amaze shmamaze! :-) No, really, thanks. Just got off the phone with Jeff!

  3. Laura on

    I love the looks of the place! Much better. Way to go! I agree with Tom. You are amazing! What a difference with how the week began versus how it ended. Whew!!
    B should be interesting. Hopefully the goodwill continues.

  4. deb athy guinan on

    It looks like a comfy place. providence!

  5. Dad on

    I’ve resisted commenting because I find it difficult to appreciate how much has been thrust on your shoulders and because you know we understand what you are going through. I do feel since you write so expressively that this might be the appropriate vehicle for adding an extra note of support. It has been helpful for me to read your blog in addition to talking to you, for the detail you recall and for the grace with which you have endured this. I hope this is the beginning of better times.

  6. Jeff on

    Thanks for posting the pictures. It looks so much nicer in all the ways you describe. I especially like that the bed has a headboard and endboard, making it look far more like a normal bed instead of an institutional hospital bed. The knitted quilt only enhances it. The buffet look great as a dresser with all the stuffed animals on it. And so glad she has the window. Would you be able to put a bird feeder out there? One decent thing I noticed at Whetstone.
    Seems like B and the staff are going to create an entirely different and better situation, already demonstrated. :-)

  7. momsbrain on

    Deb: re: Providence. I wonder! Laura, Jeff: I’m glad it looks good to you. We’ll see what today brings. Dad: Thank you for the comment and support! I do think better times could be ahead, for sure.

  8. Karin on

    Emily, this new place sounds really great; it looks as nice as the place my grandparents were. Hoping you are resting up and recovering!


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