This last week hasn’t been easy.
We moved mum into the specialist dementia-care wing of a local residential care home yesterday.
It became obvious once I’d returned from Spain at the beginning of February that something had to be done. Dad was at his wits’ end and really struggling to keep my mum and the house clean and hygienic. He was still making meals, making sure mum had her medication as and when needed, and still ensured that she was drinking enough liquid to combat her double incontinence as well as her diabetes. He’d already suggested to me that he was struggling with it all, but he’d said that before and then refused all help when it was arranged for him.
This time, I had to tell him that there was no going back. The offer of respite-care he’d had earlier in the year (and said ‘would wait’ until I got home) had gone and would actually (probably) not help much at this point. Mum now needed more constant care than he could offer. Dad is now in his ninety first year and has his own challenges.
Besides, a care-home would also have their central heating on no matter what the weather!
So, Sharon researched the homes available locally and came up with a (quite short) list that had ‘Good’ or better on the CQC web site. Luckily, one of these is located in-between our house and the house that mum and dad live in. Furthermore, when we asked, they had a room available. We were told to just pop along any time and to take them as we found them.
We visited last Wednesday and met the deputy manager and staff. The home had a relaxed feel to it, was warm, and the room mum might take up had a great aspect. Every question dad asked (and there was lots of questions dad asked) was answered positively and with confidence, so he was reassured that this was the place for mum. She was booked in for Monday; yesterday.
She was aware I think, that something momentous was happening but she couldn’t follow the thought through to completion. She asked “where are we going?” but didn’t respond when told (apparently, dad has been telling her daily). She smiled and was pleasant with everyone she met when we got there and luckily, Sharon was able to stay with her for a few hours as she settled in to her room and had lunch.
I had to take dad away as he was falling apart and was really struggling with what was happening. He’d wanted to go to town, so I took him there and then called in at their house to collect some medication that hadn’t been packed; things that he hadn’t been giving her because he hadn’t realised how important they were. When I got back and after her lunch, mum asked me “have I been dumped here?” – which hurt. I told her that ‘dumped’ wasn’t the right word. I explained that she’d have no stairs to climb to get to the toilet, that the heating would always be on, that there would be people to talk to at any time and that we would visit. I cannot assure myself that any of that ‘went in’ but it was all I had.
Now our efforts have to be with supporting dad who is alone for the first time in almost sixty-eight years. He says that he will visit mum, but not every day as that would break his heart. He says that he will find stuff to do. He says that he realises that he will feel lonely, but that we are all at the end of a phone. He says that he will eat. And, with that in mind I’ve started making a few single-portion things that require little or no effort on his part. All being well he will survive the first few weeks and begin to relish the new life he now has.
I will visit mum on Friday (they asked us to stay away for a few days) when I go in to complete the contractual arrangements.