Bringing Grandma Home

I mentioned briefly recently that we decided to bring Jim’s mom home to our house.

Years ago when it became clear that she could no longer live on her own, we evaluated the situation and chose an assisted living facility for her. She has been in three different assisted living facilities since then (we moved once and her declining health necessitated the other moves. I’ve been thinking of writing a post about assisted living experiences: my main conclusion is that they are ok if you don’t need that much assistance), and she has been in a nursing home since February.

A number of factors went into deciding to bring her home, but the main ones were that my husband would like to spend as much time as possible with her in the time she has left, he feels she’d rather spend her last days at home rather than in a facility, and we feel she’d receive better care with one caregiver focused on her rather than an assortment with many others to care for.

There have been some excellent aides in each facility she has been in, and some of the best have been in the nursing home, ironic since that is the one we were most reluctant about. But in a sense these facilities are only as good as their weakest employee. If we could request that only this and that person be her caregivers, that would be great, but that’s not possible.

The biggest issue has been in regard to eating. Ever since her hospitalization earlier this year, she has had trouble swallowing and has been on a pureed diet. That didn’t do much to increase her appetite at first, but once she got used to it she seemed to do fairly well. But as she has seemed to be continually losing strength over the last few years, even just eating requires more energy than she can muster sometimes. It has seemed to work best to give her a bite or two, give her something to drink, let her rest for a bit, then give her another bite or two, etc. We got a call a few weeks ago saying she had lost weight and they wanted to talk about feeding tubes. We had researched feeding tubes earlier in the year and felt that if she could not swallow, that was one thing, but we felt that this was more a matter of taking time with her meals (hard to do when there are others waiting to be fed), and interacting with her during feeding. My husband has walked in some times during meal time when the aide has been watching TV and not talking to or looking at his mom at all except to spoon food in. Jim asked that they turn the TV off during meal times, make sure her hearing aid is in, and interact with her during meals. Most of them have done that, and her weight has picked up again.

But we’ve felt that her eating and her general care will improve at home with more individual focus. When Jim was there a few nights ago, she was in pain, and he asked the nurse at the desk for pain medication for her. He waited in his mom’s doorway about ten minutes while the nurses chatted and laughed together, and when he saw the nursing supervisor and started to approach her, then the nurses scurried around and brought Mom’s medicine. We know they can’t drop everything and come running for every request, but when someone is in obvious pain and asking for medicine (and she has never been “the squeaky wheel” – she’s not one who rings her bell and asks for things all the time. In fact, I doubt that she has ever rung for anyone), it seems like one could forgo chatting and laughing with a friend for a few minutes to attend to that need.

We will have home health care aides come in about 8 hours a day at first, and then as we get adjusted to her needs and routine, we’ll probably cut back on the time we have them here. We will likely always call them for her bathing: just for her safety we want someone who knows what they’re doing, and neither of us feels confident about being able to bathe someone who is losing more and more muscular ability, can’t sit up on her own, etc. On the other hand, she sleeps most of the time, and we don’t want to pay someone to just sit with her while she sleeps, so we may get to a point of just having them come in to help her with her morning routine.

Honestly, I am a little uncomfortable about having non-family members in the house for long periods, so I think as soon as we can find the best balance for having aides here as long as needed but no longer, the better it will be. I’m also a little antsy about pureeing foods to the right level of consistency in a way that will be appetizing for her, but I’ve been researching it and plan to talk with the speech therapist at the nursing home, so I think that will be ok once we get started.

With the Medicare and nursing home regulations, if we find it is just impossible to care for her at home, we could have her readmitted within 30 days (normally you can’t be admitted unless you’ve had a stay of at least three days in the hospital), but we both don’t want to even try this if we don’t think it will work. It’s traumatic for her to be moved at this stage (and that’s something else we discussed about moving her here, but we feel she’ll settle in fine with us to be here with her more), so we certainly don’t want to move her here and then back within 30 days.

We’re planning to bring her home next week. The social worker at the nursing home has been great about lining up a hospital bed rental, a Hoyer lift, and getting us in touch with the home health care aides, etc.

I don’t know what this will mean for blogging, either my own or visiting others. Obviously that will have to take a back seat. It may not be impacted at all, as she does sleep a great deal, but if I’m scarce for a while, you’ll know where I am . 🙂 I so appreciate your interest in and concern for our family, and appreciate your prayers for this new stage of life.

29 thoughts on “Bringing Grandma Home

  1. This will be a difficult AND blessed journey. May the Lord give strength, wisdom, and patience, and much peace and joy through the difficult times.

    This is something I believe He loves His people to do when they are able, and He will honour this.

  2. Certainly shall be praying for you all as you care for Mom at home…..difficult decisions to make as our dear ones grow older. d “Cease striving and know I am God…” Psalm 46:10

  3. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult but blessed journey. Praying for wisdom and strength…I believe she will flourish under the care of her loved ones. God Bless you for taking on this responsibility with such grace and love….Keep in touch….as much as you can!

  4. It’s a hard choice no matter what you choose. My own parents lived in assisted living and then adult foster home and now that is not working. It is especially hard when they cannot ‘do’ for themselves. Praying that all of us in the same ‘situation’ find a great solution.

  5. Barbara, your MIL is blessed to have you as her DIL for being wiling to take her home with you so that you can better care for her. I will certainly be praying. Do keep us posted of any specific prayer requests.

    Blessings to you and yours.

  6. Thank you all. I do want to add, though, that I am uncomfortable with talk of admiration since my biggest struggle in this whole transition is my own selfishness in having “my” time, routine, and space impacted, but they’re really not “mine,” they’re God’s. He has given grace to be able to come to the conclusion that this is the best course of action, and I am sure He will give grace for all that is involved.

  7. Praying for your family as you enter this…what a blessing that you are caring for her in this way. I understand it doesn’t always work out, things aren’t always ideal but our family will be in prayer for you & your husband. I always wondered how we would care for our mom when she got to that point in life…she ended up getting cancer & all 3 of us (my brothers & I) cared for her in her last days, about 7 weeks. She had been a nurse her whole life and really didn’t want us to have to do the more intimate things (bathing & such), I can’t blame her! Of course a hospice aide did all that. Anyway, our hearts are with you…much love!

  8. Wow. Even though you don’t want admiration for this, I can’t help but give it to you anyway. Regardless of what selfish feelings you may be having (I would have a lot!), you’re still planning on doing this so it’s the action that speaks the loudest in the end. I know it will be big changes in many ways around your household. I will be praying for all of you involved. May the Lord bless the time you have left with your m-i-l and Jim with his mom. You rise up and call her blessed through words and deeds of love.

  9. Will definitely remember to pray for you all as you make this transition. May the Lord give you grace, strength, and most of all wisdom. I will pray that Jim’s mother will find it comfortable for her to be at home and that she will adjust well. Bless you!

  10. This is a huge step for your family and one I know you have done prayerfully. My heart is warmed by your consideration of what is best for her and may you be very blessed. Will pray for the weeks ahead as the transition take place.

  11. Barbara, it is only natural to wonder what would happen to one’s own time and interests and to think about it, but in all of that, you are doing your best for your family. That’s what matters and for grandma, she’d be very happy to know and relieved that she will now be in the company of her loved ones all the time. I’m very happy (for the lack of a more fancy word) to see all the preparation that was done: the room, the facilities at home, the research for her well being and meals, and everything else. If I were grandma, I’d be very very happy; mostly because I’ll be with you and Jim. Sending you lots and lots of hugs.

  12. I don’t know which Home Health organization you’re going with but since Honey Bear is working with Home Health, I know there are going to be good care givers and some that are not so good, just like in the Nursing Home. He doesn’t like to sit so he does more than is required of him. His Client likes to sleep late some mornings so he will do light housekeeping and laundry until time to wake him….I will pray that you get a good caregiver who is loving and to whom this is more that just a job. I know it will be an adjustment but I understand about the feeding tube. We made the same decision with my Mama. She could still swallow and enjoy eating. She did continue to lose weight and decline but she had Parkinson’s and lost her mobility as time went on. I am still happy we took her home and were able to care for her there.
    Mama Bear

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  14. As difficult as it was, caring for my Mother at her home and my husbands Father in our home, in each instance it was the best thing we have ever done for some one else. Difficult…yes, time consuming…yes, self-sacrifice…oh yes! In the end there were no regrets. We never said, “I wish I had..” or “I never should have…..” Do your best, after all, that is all our Lord requires from us isn’t it? His grace will truly be sufficient as you rely upon Him.

  15. I think it’s simply wonderful what you guys have chosen to do. What a blessing and a tribute to Jim’s mother as her time gets shorter. One can only *imagine* (and barely!) what time and attention this will take from you so I’ll update my little prayer reminder for your family to include strength and grace as you transition and all learn a new routine.

  16. I had not been able to leave a comment before when I first read this. I admire your choosing the right thing over your own comfort. You have made me consider a bit more about what will happen to my folks (I have siblings near them), and especially Derek’s folks and his (never married, no children) aunt. We (assuming…) have a lot of time, but they are not near to us, so it would be tough to place them in a home and not be able to check on them.

    Great thought on the home only being as good as the weakest employee.

  17. Roomie worked for a few months at an agency that provided non-medical home help for seniors and she saw that those who had in-home help early on did much better. Your experience with assisted living seems to be true here as well — that assistance is actually pretty limited and crazy expensive.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. And I will pray for the new routines for your family as you take on the care of Jim’s mom. Also that your healthcare aides will be helpful and kind.

  18. From what I “know” of you through your blog, you are a strong woman with a strong marriage. I admire your choice to make the transition for your MIL so much easier for her as she is coming to the end of her life. God bless you.

  19. p.s., Barbara, my husband and I are nearing that time with his mom. She is living on her own still (at 85) but we are beginning to see the end-of-life progression more clearly. Could I come to you with any questions that arise?

  20. I’ll be praying for you, Barbara! I know you’re uncomfortable with being applauded for being willing to care for your MIL in your home, but truly, this is a wonderful thing you’re doing. I believe God will bless you and give grace when and where it’s needed!

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