Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dreading the Nursing Home

My mom lived in her assisted living apartment for nearly four years.  She loved the apartment, and, as her needs grew, the staff made adjustments for to her, and all was well.  Unfortunately, there were times when she had to stay in the "rehab" unit of the nursing home, usually after a hospital stay.  The rehab unit was actually very nice, and Mom actually enjoyed the physical therapy that she had to do....but she definitely didn't want to live there.  And I shared that sentiment.

As her needs progressed, though, there were several times where I thought "Oh no, she is going to have to move to the nursing home!"  To me, although I had little experience with nursing homes, I believed that the nursing home was the place you go to die.  And I didn't want that for my mom.  So I fought tooth and nail to keep her in that apartment.  When she had a UTI, I would stay overnight with her to ensure her safety.  When she was in the rehab unit, I would talk about how wonderful it would be "when you get to go home to your apartment again".... and continuously reminded her of that.  For, in our situation, at this point, there was no other option besides the nursing home.  Mom could not live at my house.  I was working full time, and my husband's mental illness caused him to be undependable.

Unfortunately, her needs did progress to where the assisted living could not keep up any more.  In case you weren't aware, the assisted living facility only has a few aides to help all the residents, because most of the residents are still very independent and only need help once in a while.  My mom, however, could no longer dress herself at all, or comb her hair.  Then she could not remember how to use the toilet, or what to do with the toilet paper.  When it got to be that the staff were spending too much time with her, and it was to the detriment of other residents, well, they didn't have to ask Mom to move--the writing was on the wall.  I have, however, heard of assisted living residences requesting that a resident find a new place to move.  And now that I've seen firsthand how it all works and why Mom had to move, I understand much better.

The moment I had dreaded finally arrived.  I cleaned out Mom's apartment.  She was not going back there.  It just about killed me.  I brought things to the nursing home that were rather impractical, like her Christmas wreath for her door.  But I just couldn't admit that it probably wasn't needed any more.  I even kept my key to her apartment.  I just couldn't give it back to the management (isn't that silly?). 

But you know what?  I realize now, that the move to the nursing home was incredibly hard for me.  But for my mom....this terrible day.....well, I didn't know how bad things had gotten.  By the time she was in the nursing home, she didn't even really recognize that she wasn't in her apartment any more.  Really, HER transition was a "piece of cake".  All the pain was on my part only, and I'm still surprised about that.

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