The Move to Assisted Living – Things are Great

March 22, 2010

Filed under: Ruthie — Tags: — Alexis @ 10:51 AM

My grandmother is doing so well at her new assisted living residence. About a week after she moved in, she started to become unhappy. But then she sat down with the director and told her that she was bored. And here is something you don’t see too often – the director listened and did something about it.

Now she is playing Scrabble and other challenging games every day. And here is the “icing on the cake” – the director and her staff have done something we could never get my grandmother to do – she is practicing piano every day. She was a teacher and concert pianist for decades, but in the last 10 years or so, we’ve had to drag her to the piano. She’s inherently lazy and would rather just snooze. Not at Newbridge! Every day she works on her pieces, and the results are evident – her mind is sharper, she is more present, and she is happier. She told my uncle (her brother and confidant) that she couldn’t think of any reason to be unhappy here.

And then there are those painful hips. This weekend I witnessed some things I hadn’t seen in years. My grandmother came out to visit us, and she got herself up and out of the car by herself, with no complaints (highly unusual). Then she made it up the 12 steps to the porch, again without complaint (unheard of).  And the best part? Later that afternoon, she went back down those stairs and took a walk. Took a walk!  OK, it was just to the next house, but none of us could remember the last time she had been able to do that. The staff at Newbridge deserves all the credit.

Our Move to the ALF – Need to Work Out the Kinks

February 8, 2010

Filed under: Ruthie — Tags: — Alexis @ 12:02 PM

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.

Today We Moved to an Assisted Living

February 3, 2010

Filed under: Ruthie — Tags: , — Alexis @ 7:34 PM

Today I helped move my grandmother to assisted living. She’s been living at home for years, going to a day program 6 days per week. The van would pick her up and bring her home. She has a fantastic home health aide Myrlene who would come in the morning to help get her ready and return in the evenings to take care of dinner and to make sure my grandmother got to bed. For five years, we weren’t worried about the overnights alone, since my grandmother has never wandered or mixed up her days and nights. She has some dementia, but for the most part it’s short-term memory loss.

But her hips have awful arthritis and she’s been having more and more trouble getting herself up and down and walking around. We finally got to the point where we’ve become worried about her trying to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. At the same time, we’ve become less enamored with her day program. And it’s just too difficult for her to navigate the stairs getting in and out of her apartment building every day. So we all – the whole family, including my grandmother – decided it was time for assisted living.

And what a place we found! She is in the memory program assisted living at Newbridge on the Charles. All I can say is WOW. The staff is incredible, so thoughtful and kind, and watching their residents so closely. I am beyond impressed. And the building! Well, it’s beautiful. And the food! Fresh and delicious.

Here is a hot tip – they had us arrive for move-in at 11:30, so the very first thing that happened was we were escorted to the dining room for lunch. Well, my grandmother could not have been happier! To sit in a lovely dining room, being waited on, eating scrumptious food – she kept looking at us, saying “I get to live here?!” And from there they swept her up into the day’s activities and Myrlene and I went to set up her room.

Her first day could not have been better! She didn’t ask for Myrlene and me at all that whole afternoon. We were worried about her going to bed alone and being confused by the new room, and maybe waking up in the morning and not knowing where she was, so Myrlene slept over with her. The report is that they kept her busy with activities until 8 pm and then she slept all night!

I am headed back over on Friday morning to visit with my two-and-a-half year old. I’ll be chronicling how my grandmother is doing and how the rest of us are adjusting to the change.  So far, things are looking great!