I’ve touring retirement residences with my grandma and aunt of late. My grandma is going through a 3 year journey where she is recognizing the increasing problems walking are not likely to change. She has lived with the hope that her problems in her legs were strictly due to a lupus flare-up and would improve with time. Nobody – including me – was to keen on telling her that although the lupus causes some problems but it was more likely due to a combination of age and lupus and was not going to get better.
She’s leaned on my aunt’s arm and life for almost 3 years now, struggling to accept that grocery shopping, taking care of everything herself and walks on her beloved quay boardwalk are no longer easy or always pleasant tasks.
So, when she had a bit of a melt down with me one day during the simple discussion of a birthday present, I knew something else was really the root cause of her upset. When she told me “that we don’t do things like that in our side of the family” – excluding me from my her and my dad’s side – I knew she was fighting anger and frustration and sadness and despair in the realization that things were not going to get much better.
Fortunately, I recognized that instead of her meaning that I was out of the family – she really needed direction on how to start considering other living arrangements. And being the direct type that I am – I told her that it is time for fact-finding – not decisions – just facts. Then she could start crystallizing things in her head. As I always say – “Have a plan – you’ll feel better.”
So, we toured two places – Thornebridge and Mullberry – both within 15 minutes of where she is living now to see their offerings. The first day was quite emotional for her and “simply overwhelming”. But she was “impressed”. The second tour was less emotional, and different and “closer to her doctor” of whom she doesn’t like much (Um? Okay Grandma).
When I called her today to see how she was doing, she was fixated on whether the first place has window coverings included in part of the rent – as they can be “quite dear”. And also working on cleaning out her filing cabinet because its “much too big to take”. This is a step forward from pondering how it could be possible to get her bed out of her condo as it was so big “it was terrible to get in”.
And each time I call her, she is deep into lists and and thinking things through, trying to figure out the best way to make her decision. She asked me “What do you think of the second place? But don’t you tell me what do to!” Really, all things being equal for the most part (price, location, service comparison, etc), I thought the food and the servers at the second one was, well, wretched. Well, the food was wretched, the server was okay. My grandma said she didn’t like the server or food too much either, she thought the server at first place was much friendlier and better. And just in case I didn’t know, she told me it doesn’t matter to her about “ethics”. Which I took to mean that she believes all people – including those of different ETHNIC backgrounds – are created equal (both servers were of asian descent).
April 19th, 2013 Extra-Ordinary: Grandma is finding her facts, and is doing much better thanks to having a plan. And I’m back in the family.