This post continues to chronicle my grandmother’s move to assisted living last week. Her first two days were excellent, but by the evening of her third day, she had doubts. She doesn’t like being in the memory wing – I can’t blame her. She among the least impaired residents there, and she is spending her days with some people with some severe cognitive deficits. (As more residents come in, the staff plans to split up the lesser impaired residents and the more impaired people, but for now, they are all together.) I think the activity directors have a tough job of trying to develop daily activities and events that include everyone, even though their abilities are so varied. I’ve often thought the same thing of special education teachers.
I am still convinced that assisted living is the best place for her, and we are trying to work together with the staff to tweak her daily experience. Can they pull her and another one or two residents aside for Scrabble? Games of Hearts? Her vocabulary and math skills are quite impressive – let’s tap into those every day to keep her mind sharp, and, let’s face it, to keep her from being bored. Can she spend part of the day on the non-memory assisted living wing? Some of their programming is more engaging. And how about getting her to the gym or the pool for physical therapy for those painful arthritic hips? We are in the midst of these conversations with the Newbridge staff, and from the care and attention I have seen them give to each resident, I am sure that we will work out some new daily rhythms for her that she will like much better.
And there’s a lot to be said for having your best friend on campus! My grandmother’s best friend Bea lives in the independent living building. (Newbridge is a continuing care style campus.) Yesterday I took my 5 year old and we found a wheelchair (it would have been a very long walk for my grandmother with her walker and those pesky hips) and brought my grandmother to one of the campus restaurants for a long, leisurely, laughter-filled and hug-filled lunch with her wonderful pal and another woman from their old “supper club.” A group of about ten women used to go out every week to the “pancake house” (I think it was IHOP, but they all call it the pancake house). In recent years that group dwindled as driving became more difficult. But now several of those women are moving to Newbridge, and the supper club will rise again.