|with her grandsons in 2004|
Our retirement community visits were like an outing with Goldilocks:
"Nobody colors their hair at this place."
"Who needs a rainforest in the atrium when it's much too humid?" And my mom's top complaint was, "There are too many old people here." Finally, my mom agreed to narrow it down to one place, but our journey was only beginning.
My mother lived in the same house for more than forty six years. She raised her family in that house, and stayed until her grandsons carried her out. She had a spinal fusion about three years ago, and moved back home after living with us for about ten months during her recovery. The problem was that her home has several levels, and it was just too much for her to navigate the stairs with a walker. I pleaded with her to move into an apartment, but she kept saying that she was doing just fine.
Last September she suffered a fall. Fortunately, she fell on her nose and didn't have any serious injuries. Then I suggested visiting some assisted living residences, so that she could be in a safe environment and not have to worry about cooking. After much cajoling, she agreed to move into a lovely place on beautiful grounds that was close to home.
The plan was to have a trial run during a "respite stay" for the month of December, and to officially move in at the beginning of January. We were leaving on a family vacation on December 16, so I felt relieved that she would be in a safe place while we were gone. She kept putting it off, and a few days before we left, she fell again. This happened on the day that my son and I were originally going to move her in, but she decided to postpone it until after we came back. My mother also didn't tell me about her fall until the day before our flight, because she didn't want to "ruin our trip." My brother, and my dearest friend said that they would check in on my mom, so we went as scheduled.
A few days after Christmas when my mom was finally set to move in, I got a call from Life Alert. My mom had fallen again, and this time she couldn't get up. They offered to send the fire department over, but she wouldn't hear of it. Fortunately, our boys were home for winter break so they drove over with me.
En route Life Alert called again to tell us that my mom managed to pull herself up, only to fall a second time. Now she wasn't objecting to having the fire department come out. In the meantime, we called my mom's doctor who agreed that my mom should head over to the ER.
When we arrived at her house the firefighters were just leaving. I asked why they weren't taking her to the hospital, and they told me that she didn't want to go. I pointed out that she clearly needed to go, but they said that they could not take anyone against their will. After I convinced the firefighters to take her, my mom said that she wasn't ready to leave. Since I had my two musclemen with me, I thanked them and said that we would drive her. I didn't want them to have to wait around while I tried to reason with her. BIG mistake.
My mom wanted to pack, change clothes, and freshen up before we left, but there were two problems; she couldn't move, and she was on the second level of the house. She was acting as though she were getting ready for a weekend in the country, instead of going to the hospital. The boys carried her down the stairs, and helped her into her wheelchair. In the rush, I had forgotten to bring the foot rests for the wheelchair, so the boys were holding onto her at one end, while I was walking backwards and holding onto her feet. We finally got her up into my SUV, but the staff at the ER still had a hard time getting her out. Although she's light as a feather, she has the ability to turn herself into a dead weight.
Miraculously, she didn't break anything but was severely dehydrated, which caused concern about her kidneys. My mom went from the hospital, to a nursing home, and eventually made it to the assisted living community in February. I was grateful that our sons were so helpful when we needed them the most, but I should've insisted that the firefighters had taken her instead.
If you asked my mom about her new home she would tell you that the delicious variety of food is only fair, but she would light up if you asked her about the location. Nestled in between her two favorite shopping centers, she's practically down the street from where she used to live, or as she puts it, "I'm just five minutes away from everything I love." I live about twenty minutes away in case you were wondering.