Friday, June 24, 2011

Adjustment for Mom, Adjustment for Me

The thought of moving a loved one into a nursing home brings out a lot of scary feelings.  There are good homes out there but all of them get a bad rap when any story of neglect comes along.  The important thing to keep in mind is that, even when you find a good one, there will still be bumps along the way as the staff of the facility and your loved one adjust to each other.
Another thing to remember is that new and beautiful doesn’t mean good care and old doesn’t mean bad care.  Clean with a loving staff beats an overworked staff whether the facility is new or old.  Daddy was in a very old nursing home but it was clean and the people were kind.
We found a good place for Mom and each day she seems more adjusted to her new home.  She still has her room in the larger area of the home and day programs in the smaller area for those in the later stages of Alzheimer’s.  There was the possibility of moving her into the smaller area but a gentleman in much more need of that room moved in recently.  Mom is handling the current situation just fine and, as a testament to the staff, the gentleman that moved in has gone from seeming like an empty shell on the day he moved in to a smiling, happy guy ready to play games or sway to music.
Over the last month we, the staff and I, have been fine-tuning Mom’s care.  The first couple of weeks Mom’s hair seemed to always be dirty – until I mentioned that her shampoo was in her closet.  She probably would have told them to use the soap and that nice, moisturizing soap I bought for her would have made her hair look dirty.  Early on I also found that they were not putting a corn pad between her toes as I had listed on her care information.  Consequently, her feet began to hurt when she walked.  Again, I called it to the attention of the care coordinator and with just a few stumbles along the way, the staff has her toes looking fine again.
The air conditioner has also been a fun adjustment for all.  Mom hates moving air, especially when it is cold, but after many adjustments, we seem to have found the answer.  We increased the temperature to match that of the area where she day programs and the maintenance man has offset the cover of the unit so that the air no longer blows directly out.
With Mom settling in, it’s time for me to decide my next step.  I want to keep flexibility in my schedule so that I can continue to watch over Mom and her care.  Given the economic times, I have a couple of possibilities floating through my mind.  I started making jewelry while Mom was still living with me and I will soon set up a website to sell them.  The next step will be to jump back into temporary work.  I like the flexibility of it and the diversity of the assignments.  Hmmmm, and maybe some alteration work (bridesmaid dresses, hems, etc.)…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pet Therapy and Bus Rides!

I just returned from a LONG visit with Mom.  J  Before I get to that though, I should tell you about my visit last Thursday.

After a conversation with the Life Enrichment Coordinator some time ago, I knew that my daughter’s dog, a wonderful black Lab, could visit Mom.  It just so happened that my grandsons had left on a trip and Bonnie was feeling lonely so my daughter and I took Bonnie with us to visit Mom.

When we arrived, the Life Enrichment Coordinator met us at the door – and proceeded to take us around to all the dog lover residents in the main area of the facility.  They were thrilled to see Bonnie because their pet therapy dog had not been around for quite some time.  When we finally got through the main area, we made our way back to the smaller area of the facility where Mom spends her days.

When Bonnie walked in, everyone stopped what they were doing and my daughter took her around to each of the residents – and Mom, of course. 

Bonnie was well petted and even took a liking to one of the gentlemen and lay on his feet.  J  I think they’ll be very happy to see her come back again any time!

Today I went to visit by myself.  I had planned to visit today but received a call this morning asking if they could take an x-ray of Mom’s chest to make sure she didn’t have pneumonia so I was happy I was heading up there.  When I arrived, I expected to find her sounding terrible but she smiled and sounded just fine.  I could tell she was a little more tired than she normally is when I visit but her appearance didn’t indicate discomfort.  I heard her cough a couple times while I was there and figured that must have been what caused their concern.

We took a little walk around as I usually do with her and then we sat down and did the puzzle while some music was playing and one of the residents was dancing with an aide.  Mom enjoyed the puzzle and gave me that smile that I was used to seeing when we finished one.  After another little walk, we sat down and watched a show about animals on TV and she really seemed to enjoy just sitting there with me, dozing off here and there while we sat.  She showed me a nail that was a problem and I proceeded to do a little impromptu manicure.  Again, she was very pleased.

While we were sitting there, the Life Enrichment Assistant asked if I would like to take a bus ride with them.  She was taking ten of the residents for a little ride and thought I might like to join Mom.  I said sure and just a little later we all piled into the bus and took a nice long ride on some pretty back roads.  Mom dozed through some of the ride but definitely enjoyed getting out.

The length of my visit went from two hours to almost four but Mom enjoyed it and I enjoyed being with Mom.  A good day!