Tuesday, September 25, 2007

136 "just go"

My dad is, as of Sunday afternoon, in a very nice home about 20 miles away. They have both a locked/dementia wing and a regular wing. They have him in their regular wing as the locked wing has no beds. He is in a room with 3 beds although only 2 are occupied. A previous resident left behind a nice TV and a fan for future residents to use. The whole place looks like a hotel, so that's what we told him: you are going to stay in a hotel for a while.
My mom, husband and I went up on Saturday to tour the place before we gave approval to move him there. The Director of Admissions gave us a tour. She knew most of the residents' names. The staff seemed busy, but didn't ignore anyone. I saw an aide park a man near the nursing station and say "Mr ___ has to go to the bathroom" and before the nurse could finish paging anyone, someone came to take him.
Out back is a large fenced in yard and patio area with a gas grill. We can bring the dog and cat. We can take my father out for short trips.
The locked ward is a mirror image of the other ward. A glass-walled office faces the doors. Residents congregate there like fish waiting to be fed, poking at the door and peering through the windows into the hall beyond. We had an interview with someone in that room, and one old lady kept knocking on the window and saying she had to leave but she'd lost her key. Another man is high functioning enough that he watches the staff enter the code through the door's window and then uses it on the inside keypad and lets everyone out! So they have to keep changing the code every time he figures it out. He tried to bully us into letting him out. He followed us saying "hurry up, hurry up" and then was coming right through the doors behind us.
Yesterday my mom and I visited my dad there. Because they don't know him yet, they had his bed all the way to the floor, in case he rolled out. They still have the stupid catheter in him but the nurse assigned to him said the staff doctor would be having it removed soon. He was asleep. My mom woke him up and he looked right at her, waved his hand in dismissal and said "Just go." Nice. I shook his hand but he wouldn't talk to me. He went right back to sleep. He seemed still zonked out from all the tranquilizers from the hospital.
His nurse, who I will call Sarah (that's not her name but close enough), told us he didn't eat breakfast, but he ate lunch on his own. She brought him to the bathroom and he went. (They don't have him in diapers anymore.) Sarah seemed to like him and said she is the best nurse there and she would take good care of him. She has a lovely lilting accent, almost Jamaican in cadence, which is very nice to listen to.
We had an interview with the social worker, who asked some pertinent questions and some stupid ones. I have no idea why the hospital had him down as Catholic (he never went to church once in my life) but he kept circling back to that and asking about his faith, how often he goes to church, did he want to see a priest, etc. I kept saying "no" but I'm not sure that got through. At the hospital a priest kept coming to see him and would leave the religious channel on his TV even though we asked that he not come and definitely not change the channel.
But he also asked about what kind of things he likes to do and liked to do, what he watches on TV, how much time he spent alone versus with family, etc.
It's unfortunate that the place is so far away. If I go from work, I'm halfway there, but from home it's almost 20 miles. My mom can go at random times but I'll have to be more regimented, coming straight from work a few days a week. If he continues to be not responsive or won't talk to me I'll go less often. But right now my goal is 3x a week. I am thinking about looking into training my older Ragdoll kitten to be a therapy cat and bringing him on weekends. He is even more of a love-cat than my Zen-Zen was. True to his breed, he is completely floppy when picked up. He purrs constantly and is very mellow. For more on him, go to my pets blog.


Patty McNally Doherty said...

Hi Bert,

I'm relieved to hear things have calmed down a bit. Your dad will take time to adjust to his surroundings and his new life, just as you will. All of this takes time.

I love the idea of a therapy kitten. I have two puppies that can make my mother smile no matter how blue she's feeling. Something about animals is irresistible to the elderly in nursing homes.

It will be a different relationship you'll have with your father. Just as it will be a different life for your mother, without your dad at home. My mom was as vigilant with my dad's care in the nursing home as she was while he was home. Every day she was the one to brush his teeth and shave his face, they never seemed to have the time to do the basic care.

There is a great article on the front page of the Sunday New York Times about nursing home ownership. It would be wise to read it for anyone with a loved one in a nursing home. It helps explain why the homes are kept so poor, while the executives and stockholders rake in the bucks.

Please keep writing, as I'm sure you will. Stop in always at unexpected times, never on a schedule. And remember, he's your father first, their resident second.

Hang in there, kiddo. Many people read your harrowing ER experience through your blog and it shed much needed light on the sinking of the ship we call the Golden Years.


Marvel said...

What good news! It sounds like a very nice facility. Thanks for keeping us posted.