We’ve had Grandma home from the nursing home for about a week now. There has been a flurry of activity as the physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and home health nurse have come in to do evaluations, but I think after this week just the physical therapist will be coming 3 times a week. We know she likely won’t get back to walking or feeding herself, but we’re hoping to try to loosen her up a bit from her contracted position. In the nursing home she most often went into a fetal position with her arms pulled up to her chest, and after just a few days at home we noticed her in a more relaxed position with her hands more naturally laying across her stomach or on her lap, even before the physical therapist came, so I think just being in a more home-like atmosphere, seeing us more often, having more one-on-one attention has been doing her good.
She has been eating well. Preparing meals with an eye to what can be pureed well has been interesting. Mostly we can just puree what we’re having, but I have a few canned or frozen things on hand for her for those times when what we’re eating wouldn’t work for pureeing.
We have a home health aide here from 7:30-6:00 right now. Since that is a long day, I thought we might have people coming in two shifts, but so far we’ve had one person Monday through Friday and a different person on the weekend. They’ve both done well, but the M-F person has been great. She and Mom seem to get along well, she does a great job, and even does some of the exercises the therapists have left with us to do. At first it was a little disconcerting to have someone else in the house – usually when that happens, it’s company, and you feel the need to spend time with them, entertain them, etc., so I felt a little guilty doing things in the rest of the house and leaving the aide alone with Mom, but I kept reminding myself that’s why we hired her. I also thought my introvertish self would have trouble with someone else here all the time, and occasionally I feel that way, but overall it hasn’t been bad. We touch base several times a day but I do have some stretches of quiet time, so it works out.
At some point we will probably cut her hours back to something like 7:30 to 1 or 2. Since Mom sleeps a great deal, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay someone to sit with her while she’s sleeping. We have to change her position, mainly turning her from one side to the other or on or off her back, every two hours, and I am not sure I could do that by myself yet, but I think I am close. I don’t know about changing her briefs alone yet (adults do not wear “diapers,” I am told. 🙂 ) The aide does it alone but it usually takes both Jim and I to do it at night. Her severe arthritis makes it a challenge to do much with her without causing pain. Mostly she smiles and is patient, but some days she seems in more pain than others.
One blessing before she came was that she needed a Broda wheelchair (it reclines and the footrest can come up) since she can’t sit up straight on her own, but the insurance or Medicare wouldn’t cover it (though they did cover the hospital bed and Hoyer lift). New Broda chair are several thousand dollars, but Jim found a used one in good condition on Craig’s List for a fraction of that. It was in SC, about 3 hours away, but he got up early one day and dashed out to get it and bring it back.
It has been a bit of an adjustment that we can’t just pick up and go like usual. Jim said it is something like when you first bring a baby home, but in this case we can’t pack his mom and take her with us. We do have to figure out how to get her to a doctor tomorrow: she has to have initial visits to get her medications over to his records from the nursing home’s. There is a place that transports patients that can take wheelchairs, but not the Broda chair. Plus we have to be ready an hour before time to leave and may have to wait as late as an hour after the appointment is done, so it is going to be a very long and trying day for someone who is usually only up in a wheelchair a couple of hours at a time. With all the therapists, nurses, etc., who can come to the home of a patient like Mom, it would be nice if there were doctors who could do that, too.
So far we are trading off going to church, even though and aide is here. We figured until we all got used to the situation and each other, that would be best. I think we can ask the agency that sends out the aides to have someone come over during an evening if we want to go out, and we’ll probably do that with a couple of birthday dinner coming up in the next few months, but we don’t want to do that too often.
In the midst of all of this going on, Jesse got partial braces on yesterday and we have an appointment with an oral surgeon today to discuss when he can get all of his wisdom teeth plus two others pulled. I am praying that we can schedule that surgery early enough for him to be healed before school starts at the end of August – preferably even next week, because Jeremy is coming to visit the week after, and we’d all rather not have to spend Jeremy’s vacation time having and recovering from oral surgery, but if it has to overlap we’ll just have to deal with it. (If you feel so inclined, I’d appreciate your prayers for the Lord’s timing in all of this.)
Overall I think we’re all adjusting well. I think she is happier and doing better overall. Jim seems to take things in stride and does the lion’s share of caring for her when he is home. I’ve had one or two “moments” when things seemed overwhelming, but with prayer and time in the Word, God helped me regain perspective and reminded me of His grace sufficient for every need. I think the move has been a positive change in general.