Friday, March 12, 2010

Nursing Homes=Nurturing Homes

Earlier this year, due to compounding physical problems, my Mom became a resident of a nursing home. Frankly, she's often scheming about how she can return to her longtime home and that's understandable. It's hardest on my Dad, who theoretically knows he's not equipped to care for her but continues to talk as if it's a possibility. Mom's congestive heart condition, declining mental acuity and appetite, limited mobility and propensity to fall make it doubtful she will be "rehabilitated" enough to go home. I can't totally diminish Mom's hope that returning home is an option or she may lose the drive to keep going, but I try to help Dad see that all her needs are met and she's actually thriving.


Her roommate is a peach of a lady who keeps busy, folding laundry; her daughter-in-law graduated a year ahead of me at the school where Mom and Dad taught and she often chats with Mom when she visits. The caregivers administer Mom's daily medicine and see that she's showered, dressed, fed, participates in physical therapy, given snacks, receives appropriate medical attention and exposed to a diverse amount of activities such as weekly church services, celebrations, karaoke, etc. Dad visits nearly everyday and they hold hands, exchange family news, review old photos. Sometimes she demands that he sit with her until she's discharged, and then he calls me, frustration in his voice. (Often, the next day, she never mentions it). I try to visit every week, bringing fresh flowers, or photos or pictures to post by her bedside. My brother's wife has come armed with piano books and plays the piano in the dining room. The staff seems friendly, even though there is always someone to attend. People who knew Mom from school stop by to say "Hi" and she receives cards and letters. She has more contact with society than she did a year ago.


This cat is also a resident!

Mom is lucky to be in a place where smiles and touching kindnesses are not rare. I'm trying to convince Dad (and perhaps myself) that it's the place Mom needs to be right now. Her around-the-clock care is worth the expense-it justifies all their scrimping and saving and working so hard.

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