Saturday, January 30, 2010
On Monday of this past week, I met with a nurse at Dad's current facility to do an assessment of him prior to his move to the new house. Basically, I sat there for an hour and a half, answering her questions as to his likes and dislikes and behavioral patterns. At one point, Dad and Del came into the room so Dad could use the bathroom. Dad seemed surprised and a little put out to see two people occupying his bed, but he didn't make a fuss. Del patiently led him into the bathroom, talking cheerfully to Dad the whole time, and shut the door. The interview continued, but my attention was now divided, focusing also on what was going on inside the little bathroom. I could hear rustlings and clinkings, the faint, loving chiding by Del as he helped Dad off with his clothing and checked him. Perhaps he even helped Dad onto the toilet. My mind was diverted with two thoughts: one; that my proud, intelligent Father was almost incontinent, a situation that would have both mortified and horrified him, and, two; a person not even related to my Father was helping him do that most private and personal function, with kindness and compassion. I had only a moment to begin to process what these two things meant to me before being pulled back by the nurse to continue our interview.
Monday, January 25, 2010
We took Dad to lunch last week at the Adult Family Home we liked the best after our tour. All meeting at his current facility, Dad and Del went in one car, and my sister and I piled into mine. They were just starting lunch when we got there, and the owner, a quiet-spoken yet authoritative gentleman from Romania, welcomed Dad in and seated him gently at the table with the other residents. One of the women seemed extra perky and we found out that she was actually the wife of one of the residents, who came to visit every other day or so. As my sister and I sat on the couch and observed lunch and the caregivers, she directed a few questions our way. Eventually, she came over to join us, a tiny, slightly bent over package of energy and wit, wearing a sequined sweater and speaking with a slight accent. She began to tell us her story. It turned out she and her husband were Dutch, and that they had lived an extraordinary life together. Evidently they had been in Indonesia during the Second World War and been imprisoned in a concentration camp. They had no children. And how, after all the suffering and life they had lived, her husband was diagnosed with dementia and was now under hospice care at an Adult Home she was beginning not to be able to afford. She laughed that he was younger than she and much the healthier of the two, and that she had married him relying on the fact that he could take care of her in old age. While seeming rueful at the cruel paths life can take, she was at the same time, philosophical about it all. I couldn't help but admire her spirit and attitude, and I look forward to getting to know her a little better as Dad settles in to his new home.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
We viewed several Adult Family Homes this week, and I have to say I'm fairly amazed at the variety of places out there. The one we viewed last week was in a smallish, older ranch-style house. It was a little dingy, a little run down and worn around the edges. One of the ones we saw this week, however, was brand new. It had no furniture OR residents; our Dad would have been the very first. This place was even one step up from a McMansion; it was ginormous! It squatted, gleaming and ugly, amongst the smaller, dingier, ranch-style 60's houses surrounding it. Dark, polished wood floors, twenty foot ceilings, huge Grecian columns, trendy black granite countertops in the kitchen. Striking certainly, but in no way homey. The second, run by a lovely Romanian couple, was like something out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding; flowered carpeting, chandeliers, knick-knacks, window treatments, swags of material. It was opulent, yet oh-so-slightly tacky. They had built it recently from the ground up and were immensely proud of it, as they should be, considering they were immigrants to this country.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I finally called a placement coordinator, a specialist who knows a lot of the family homes and assisted living facilities in the area. She took all of Dad's information and all the elements we were looking for, went to visit him at his current location and look at his chart, and then she's going to compile a list of places for us to visit. We're going on Tuesday, and its going to be a long day. She said to put aside 4-6 hours, which reminds me of the last time I went looking for a house with a real estate agent! I guess that's essentially what we're doing. When we pick a place, that place then pays the coordinator a commission, which I guess is better than us having to do it! I really hope this pays off; I feel like I need to get Dad settled(again) before getting on with some of the other things I want to do, like hospice work and getting this darn thing published!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
'"Hey, Dad, how're you doing?" I ask, bending down to peer into his eyes, eyes that have grown rheumy with age and vacant from illness. His customary colorful flannel shirt, layered over two sweatshirts and an undershirt, is tucked into his waistband, belted pants pulled high like a geek from a bad movie. We are here today to meet with the mental health nurse, who is here to talk to Dad and evaluate him. The facility requested this evaluation because of Dad's growing aggressive and territorial behavior; they want something done, whether its a med change or a difference in care, but I wonder how much of it just the way the illness is going, regrettable, and uncontrollable. The smells of the facility seep into my consciousness; age, disinfectant, a faint whiff of urine, and apples-always apples. My mind wanders for a minute, wondering why every facility I've ever been in smells like apples. Urine I get, buy why apples?'
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
This is going to be tougher than I thought. So far I've visited two Adult Family Homes. Each was radically different from the other except for the fact that they were both in houses. The first one was in a huge house in Lynnwood, owned and run by two Phillipino gentlemen and their families. It almost seemed like a full Assisted Living facility, it was so clean and professional and organized. The second was at a much smaller house in Bellevue. While in some ways it was more homey than the first, it also seemed shabbier and the couple who owned it didn't seem quite as dedicated. Since Dad seems to prefer a male caregiver, we discussed whether they would have to hire another caregiver to accomodate Dad, which would drive up the price considerably. Even without that, they were much more expensive than the first, bigger house, leaving us confused. I guess the only way to get a better idea of what prices are normal is to visit a lot more places. Leaving me to conclude that this is going to be tougher, and take much more time, than I originally thought!