Yesterday, there were two places I wanted to visit. The first place was actually a rehabilitation and skilled nursing facility. When I arrived, I knew right off the bat this hospital like atmosphere was not the place for Jerry. The director of nursing was my tour guide. As we were walking I told her all about Jerry. She stopped me in the back hall and told me that she was also a hospice nurse and has worked in every assisted living/nursing home in the county. She could give me the low down on every one of them. She cautioned me to watch out for the ones that were "it’s all about the money”. Watch out for “upcharges” where I would be charged for every additional service, such as an extra 5 dollars if a meal had to be brought to the room. She cautioned me to make sure it was adequately staffed, so that I would not have to hire and “additional” caregiver. She gently told me, that he would eventually become a skilled nursing candidate, but not right now. She referred me to one particular “home” that she felt was staffed adequately and where the residents were well cared for. I visited there last summer, so that was good to know. She also loaded me up with medicare/medicaid knowledge and different physical/occupational therapy options. Great! Great information! The next place on my list wasn’t too far away. I mentioned to the nurse where I was going next. She said the she had never worked there, however, they often receive their patients for rehabilitation. Every one of their residents always seemed very happy and that I should visit over there.
I drove on over to the next facility, where it seemed very warm and friendly. The administrator, Kathy, came out to meet me and took me into the living room where we got acquainted. I immediately like her. She was kind and not “salesmanlike”. Once I told her that Jerry was only 62, she looked down in a sad way and said, “I’m not sure he would be happy here. Most of our residents are older.” I asked her if she’d take me on a tour anyway. “Sure. Of course.” Then she took me down the hall to Gracie’s room. The room was bright and cheery..looked just like a bedroom from home with her little side table where she sat and did her beading. Gracie was 95 years young, dressed up in red, and after being introduced, said, “I just want you to know that I’m happy here.”. I smiled and said, “I’m so glad to hear that. You are the cutest thing.” As she toured me around her room, she said, “Well, thank you, honey. I just love to make people laugh. Let me show you my closet.” She was as sharp as a tack and obviously very happy living there.
Next, Kathy wanted to show me a larger room. There, I met Pat. Pat was sitting at her desk writing Christmas cards. She was headed to Raleigh to see her children for the holidays. She also was very bright and happy. Our stories were similar in that she had to put her husband in a place in Raleigh where her children lived, while she stayed in their original home in New Bern. He has now passed away and she now was very happy in this new “home."
I told Kathy that it was obvious that this was a good place because every resident seemed to happy and the place was full of positive energy. “Would you show me the memory care unit?” As we walked in the memory care unit, I was pleased. Several of the residents were off on a field trip, but one man was there. Earl, had a demented look on his face, similar to what Jerry has occasionally. Earl seemed happy and walked right up to me to visit. The aide came to his side and said, “Earl. It’s time to go to the bathroom. Let’s go.” Immediately, Earl began to balk. He dug his heals in, straightened up those legs, and pulled the other way. The aide handled it beautifully. She turned to face him, gently took both of his hands, and said, “Come on Earl. Let’s go to the bathroom.” As quickly as he resisted, he calmly said, “Ok. Are you going with me?” She said, “Sure, I’m going with you.” Then off they went.
Kathy and I went to her office where she gave me the prices, told that they do take medicaid once the money runs out. We talked about the transition and I met the male nurse who had worked there for 10 years. I was very impressed and comfortable. Then, in came Ivan. Ivan was a 99 year old perky man who lived in the memory unit. He was a retired minister and full of spunk. He actually had just come back from a field trip and was filled with vim and vinegar. When I shook his hand, he said, “Do I know you?” What’s your name.” I said, “Sue. I’ve heard so much about you.” He said, “Good, I hope.” Then he turned to Kathy and said, “What have you been telling her about me? Don’t you know I have to live up to it?” He looked back at me and asked, “What’s your name?” Funny. I said, “Sue. I heard you read your Bible every morning.” He said, “I sure do. Don’t you?” Then, he wandered on down the hall.
So..there ya have it. At least I know there is a place where I would feel comfortable placing Jerry...if I had to. At least there is one option so far.