Have been in a major depression lately. This month has been awful. One of the worst ever, just lost all motivation to do or try at anything and have felt so much dibilitating fear and overwhelm.
But that’s not really what I want to talk about today, necessarily. Just a random topic/musing instead:
1.) Moving a parent into assisted living or a nursing home:
This is what my whole weekend involved, and the last week really as well, the whole month was setting it up to some extent. My dad’s mother, my grandma, spent the last week in the hospital, is now staying at a rehabilitation facility (read: nursing home – don’t know why they call it that), and will (hopefully, with the Dr’s ok) be moved into her assisted-living apartment on Wednesday.
This is hard because it is so stressful/hard for my dad and all of his siblings. I didn’t expect it to be hard for me as well, mostly because I have never felt super close to any of my grandparents like some people do. Some people REALLY aren’t close to their grandparents – very little contact and maybe actually don’t like them much (like my boyfriend – his mom was an orphan and he never met his paternal grandfather; his maternal grandmother is described to me as not a nice woman and doesn’t have much contact with the family). Then there are the people who are VERY close to their grandparents, love seeing them, devastated by their death, etc (like my sister’s friend Rachel – she is almost as close to her grandparents as her own parents and her grandpa’s recent death has been very hard on her). I feel like I am inbetween – no animosity between us, and there is definitely caring about them, but we aren’t really close either.
I think this comes from the fact that neither of my parents are super close to their parents. I feel like I am very close to my parents and also all of my dad’s siblings and my cousins on that side. So for that reason, I think my children’s relationship with my parents will be different, much closer than I am/was to my own grandparents. I actually have more of a rapport with my mom’s grandmother, my great-grandmother, because my mom is really close to her (she is 94 and still kickin’!), and because she is genuinely and amazing and fun old lady. She never complains, has a great sense of humor, takes a genuine interest in everyone’s lives (even though she now has Alzheimer’s), and lights up the room everywhere she goes! Side note: she is also a hopeless romantic, like myself, and asks me repeatedly everytime she sees me how my “sweetie” is doing off at war (and how many letters he writes me – she has no idea what e-mail and skype are and thinks it’s like WWII).
Anyway, I feel closer overall to my dad’s parents than my mom’s, and since I am older, have enjoyed getting to spend time with my grandma in the last few years. I have also personally orchestrated a lot of this whole moving thing. My dad’s has 4 living siblings (his older brother died when I was 9), and they are the most incredibly unorganized group of people ever! It’s like there are 5 people doing all this stuff and accomplishing nothing! So I set up a lot of the stuff for my dad, and also, with my uncle who is a nurse, do a lot of her medical care stuff.
Anyway, I was just surprised how hard this whole thing was even for me. My grandma is understandably so anxious about having to leave her home, scared, and I think just sad because she was married to my grandpa for 51 years before he died a few years ago and their house was their home together for a very long time. Seeing her cry when I had to check her into the nursing home, where she is now to recover from her hospital stay, was hard. She was just so afraid. Can’t imagine how hard that is going to be for me with my own parents. Assisted-living is good though, much different than a nursing home. She will have her own apartment, with a kitchen and everything, and be pretty independent still. There are three levels of care too so there are varying levels of people there. It’s a nice place too; assisted-living can be expensive and she is lucky to have money to go there.
I know she will be doing better once she gets there and out of the nursing home, which is essentially like a hospital but even more depressing because everyone is old and depressed! She is getting excited about her apartment.
I guess some tips I would have for this situation are:
- Be organized! Have family meetings and delegate who is doing what – like my aunt does the financial piece, my dad does the legal work because he legally has the Power of Attorney, and my uncle handles the medical stuff because he is a critical care nurse. Make sure you are very honest about what care he/she needs and be able to really look at the situation objectively; don’t be in denial about any of their problems.
- Realize it takes 3 months or so for them to fully adjust to the move. One of my uncles is so worried she will hate it there, but I know over time she will like it.
- Lastly, the director of the assisted-living facility told me this: remind her how much more independence she is really gaining by moving (and remind yourself of that too) – she will now be closer to family (not isolated in her home up in the mountains), have activities to do, meals, be able to take the bus to run errands, and in general have her own manageable apartment with more access to anything she needs.
Okay, so I’m no expert, but these are just some of the things I have learned this month that I will remember someday with my own parents. (Yikes, not looking forward to that! But they are only in their 50’s 😉 ).