SENIORS CARING for SENIORS (Part 4)
Thanks for returning to Tender Tuesdays! This week’s installment captures our dad’s “great escape” from the 5th Floor of our local hospital. This is Part 4 of senior kids managing the care and affairs of their parents living long and healthy lives, with many surpassing the not so unusual 100th Birthday milestone! In fact a friend of mine, only yesterday, excitedly relayed her plans to celebrate her own mother’s upcoming 100th birthday party. See what I mean?
Our father’s stay on the 5th Floor was short-lived. As soon as we met with the hospital’s Social Worker and understood our options, we unanimously agreed that he’d be moved as quickly as possible. Fortunately, my husband’s parents had saved for this stage of their lives, in the event that extended care would be required. Private Complex Care back at the same complex as their independent-living apartment, was the only decision to be made. Unfortunately, other senior kids in our position, may not be able to make the same choice for their parents. If we hadn’t, he would have had to stay in the hospital until a subsidized extended care facility (somewhere in the city or surrounding towns) had a free bed. What a relief it was NOT to have to be put on that waitlist.
Everyone was prepped and a private ambulance was booked for the move, upon his discharge. It was amazing the difference in support we experienced on 5th Floor, once they knew our dad was leaving. The staff suddenly wanted to get involved and help with making arrangements. Let’s just say, Dad (and family) didn’t shed a tearful farewell with the staff! (I think my husband’s sister actually did a HAPPY DANCE all the way through the halls with Dad in his gurney.)
What a difference between hospital care and private complex care! His room had been refreshed and repainted, with everything organized and ready for him. There was a welcoming committee at the door and he literally felt like he was home. In fact, once he was snuggled into his bed, his first conversation with his wife had to do with problem-solving how they could fit her bed into his room. Hmmm…. maybe he didn’t quite get it that he’d be living solo in his new digs, and his wife would be making daily visits…
The first morning in Private Care, my husband and I arrived early to see how his night went. A content man met us! He was thrilled to be in a quiet room where no one was receiving calls in the middle of the night on their cell phones. They had just cleaned him up and he felt pretty good. (They had even parted and combed over his hair, the way he liked it… just a little Donald Trump thing happening with his hair!) My husband asked his Dad if he wanted to change his sitting position. He made an indignant face and asked, “Why would I want you to call a politician?” Obviously, the restful night in Complex Care hadn’t solved his hearing problems!
The Care Facility ensured we had adequate visitor chairs and hot coffee, muffins, and fruit were brought in for us to enjoy during our visit…. We were in a state of shock! Every nurse that came in and out of his room, were friendly, concerned for his comfort, and committed to making a personal connection with him. It was such a relief to leave him in their professional and kind care!
His wife, daughter, and son-in-law were able to come and go with their visits. Wheeling Mom over to the Complex Care building was much simpler than having to get her up to the 5th Floor of the hospital. She was so much happier having him close by and many of their friends were able to drop in for short visits, as well.
Of course, even though his comfort was their upmost priority, our Dad was slipping away on his own time. He loved waking up and finding a note and/or flowers left by his snooker and dinner buddies, friends, and neighbors. This provided us opportunities to discuss how important he was to so many people and how deeply they cared about him.
It also opened the door to discuss his wife of 69 years… I know, right? … He had taken his vows seriously. His wife had developed mobility issues and chronic nerve pain due to a broken hip and diabetes. He was committed to care for and keep her safe. His devotion to his wife made him her caregiver for several years. We realized that he was struggling with leaving her behind, and when we were able to convince him that she was coping on her own and that we would take good care of his Ilse, that’s when he finally felt at peace to let himself go. (We didn’t let him know of the calls his wife made to his daughter, disoriented at bedtime because her blood sugar was too low. He didn’t need to know that his excellent care-giving, senior daughter rushed right over to feed her mom an egg and cheese, waiting up with her for an hour to retest her blood sugar, before tucking her into bed.) No, he needed reassurance that it was okay to leave her in our capable hands…. well, at least in his daughter’s capable hands!!
The morning Dad passed away, my husband was away on a business trip and I was scheduled to take my mother-in-law over to see her husband. Wouldn’t you believe it? A LOW OIL icon on the dash of my new Mini showed up, and a long distance call to my husband proved that what I read in the manual was true. I had to get my neighbor to drive 25 minutes into the BMW dealership to get me the proper oil. Of course, in the interim, Complex Care called and said that we should come quickly, as our dad was fading. My mother-in-law was waiting for me to push her over to his bedside, I couldn’t get hold of my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law was at her hairdressers (but not the one I thought she went to…) without her cell phone. My husband (from afar) suggested I get hold of the lovely woman working at the entrance desk of Independent Living and ask her to rush up immediately and wheel his mom over to Complex Care.
I arrived ten minutes after my father-in-law passed away. His wife made it to his bedside for his final breaths, and his daughter and son-in-law were there just seconds later. This lovely man left us without any pain and took his leave with the confidence and belief that it was finally time to let go. The staff members were respectful of our sadness and gave us the support and privacy that we needed. One of the nurses (her husband is the chef for the Independent Living dinners) made a point of talking with us about how she knew all about our dad before he moved in because her husband always spoke so highly of him. The personnel from their apartment were equally lovely. They went out of their way to look out for our mom and support her through her grief.
We miss him. It has taken us quite some time to come to terms with the finality of our loss. I know you can relate to these tender moments our family experienced with our dad, in our role as his senior kids and care-givers. He lived 93 years, without a complaint, and was a fine man worthy of the love and friendships that he enjoyed throughout his life. His life with his family was important to us (even the in-law kids, but of course, I was his favourite daughter-in-law… I know, I know- I was his only daughter-in-law)!
Please share your tender moments with us. (Just click on Comments below. and leave us your story.) As fatigued and sad as we were with his passing, we all agreed that his Memorial Service ended up being a true celebration of his life with friends, family, neighbours, and German Club members. What a memorable gentleman he was!