Adventures in eldercare.

Posted Sun Nov 07, 2004, 22:00 PM by Tracy | |

When we last left off in early October, Mom was in a care center in Torrance CA. She landed there after Cousin Barbara brought her to hospital to be treated for dehydration. E and I had moved Mom from her OC condo to Barbara’s house where she was to stay for a few days before moving into an assisted living facility. Subsequently she became even more withdrawn, declining to eat or drink adequately, refusing her medication. I contacted the assisted living facility to inform them that she would not be moving in as planned.

After a couple weeks in rehab, Mom’s insurance approved extra time in the care center for respite care. This bought me some time in which to locate a more permanent home. I discussed the matter with her attending doctor. He suggested boarding care, a home setting in which six residents are cared for by two caretakers.

Tuesday October 26 I flew into LAX.

Barb took me to see my mom at the care center. Such a tiny fragile thing she is. Mom was very happy to see me, but somewhat confused about what was happening around her.

My plan was to stay with Cousin Barb while I scouted out boarding care homes, then present Mom with a couple, at most three, choices. However, Barb’s freeloading-jerk-ex-boyfriend-slash-father-of-her-child was so hostile and verbally aggressive toward me that I almost immediately moved into a motel.

The next day, Wednesday, I began visiting boarding care homes. I had already looked at a few back in September so I had a good idea of what to expect. Every place I visited was clean and the residents seemed well cared for, but mentally not all there. Mom’s not that far gone yet. Sometimes she’s close, but I just couldn’t see her happy in that setting.

Thursday was her last day of respite coverage. I couldn’t keep her at the care center even as a private pay patient because they had already assigned her bed to someone else. I had to find a place quick!

Luckily, a few days before when Barb had taken Mom out for lunch and a drive, they popped into the Spring Senior Assisted Living facility next to the care center just to check it out. There was a room available and Mom liked it!

I took Mom to lunch at Spring where we had tomato soup and egg salad sandwich. We just started talking as if it were a done deal that she would move in. After lunch we walked down to the administrator’s office, signed a bunch of papers, wrote out a check and problem solved!

E and my brother Jim got into LAX late Thursday night. The next day, Friday, we took Mom to Redondo Beach. She gets so tired just from being awake for a few hours. Although she’s eating better now, thanks to an appetite stimulant, she has a long way to go in terms of building up her strength and stamina.

Saturday we rented a minivan with the seats removed and hauled all of Mom’s stuff from Barb’s to Mom’s new home. While E assembled a computer desk we had bought at Target the night before, Jim and I attempted to dispose of the single bed E and I had hauled from OC.

How do you get rid of a bed? Simple, just haul it to Salvation Army, no problem, right? Wrong. They would take the headboard & frame, but not the mattress & boxsprings. Where can we take it? SA suggested Goodwill.

Off to the Goodwill, off into unknown territory where I had never driven and had to guide my brother in the minivan. Amazingly we find the Goodwill in Lomita.
They’re not taking mattresses at all. They direct us to a trash dump in San Pedro. Way way far away. What choice do we have? Off to San Pedro.

San Pedro where a trash dump does not exist. Now we’re really lost, but at least we’re together because I left my car at GW. Turn around. New plan is to locate a phone book and look up trash dumps in the yellow pages.

Oh look theres a Home Depot, let’s pull in there. I’ll ask at Customer Service to look at a yellow pages.

They don’t have a yellow pages at the customer service desk at Home Depot. I am about to lose it at this point. In a last act of desperation I call my uncle to ask for his help.

No problem, says Uncle Bill. You can dump it in the dumpster where I work. Problem solved!

So we got Mom moved into a decent assisted living facility where she is receiving an appropriate level of care in a setting that will maximize her quality of life and provide a social atmosphere where she has the best chance of improving her health, both physical and mental.

E and Jim flew back to Oregon Monday night. I spent the rest of my time finishing the unpacking, organizing, surreptitiously removing items Mom would not need but had been unwilling to leave when she moved out of OC.

The thing I’m most proud of accomplishing is the little touches. I found a phone with a super-light hand set (hint: AT&T) that she was comfortable using. I got all her pictures up on the wall. I even got a silk flower swag for her door – and the door hanger to hang it on.

The last thing I had accomplished was getting her computer set up with a cable modem from Time-Warner and getting her email set up. I honestly don’t expect her to use the computer without some help from Barb. But she has her computer and if that gives her comfort, that’s good enough for me.

It was a heck of job, but with the heroic efforts of Cousin Barb and E, we got it done. Mom is happy with her room and she seems to be getting along with the other residents. She’s still confused much of the time, but she is aware that she is confused.

My hope is that she will gain weight, gain strength and stamina, and regain some of her mental acuity.

I hope because at this point it’s all I can do.


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