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A New Chapter: Nursing Home Diaries {the day it all changed}

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A new chapter: Nursing Home Diaries. My grandfather asked me if I was still going to share his pictures on the blog and I said “of course! We will call it Nursing Home Diaries.” Just another chapter to our Dementia Diaries . Right? You gotta keep on going and this is our new norm.  The agony of thinking about the admissions process and moving my grandfather’s things into the nursing home is over. The paperwork was signed and my gram paid the monthly fee. Umm friends, nursing home care is beyond ridiculously expensive. Like, how do people afford it? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not free but wow, talk about a shock. My grandparents grew up in the depression and my grandfather was a workaholic. Like, 15-17 hours a day he worked to provide food, clothing and shelter for his family. They saved “every single penny” literally. A New Chapter: Nursing Home Diaries {the day it all changed}

A couple weeks ago, my dad and two aunts sat down with my grandfather and explained that he needed more care than we could do at home. We told him he needed special care and we were not equipped to do it at home. Honestly, we were concerned for his safety along with ours as well. The last few weeks he has become extremely agitated and verbally nasty, very mixed up and having strange thoughts that involved my gram. One thing that we have learned through this process is that dementia and alzheimer’s disease is no joke. You can’t have a reasonable logical conversation with someone and expect that they will understand. When you talk to my grandfather about his diabetes and the importance of medication management, he understands that. He accepts that. So that is the route we took. We decided to only tell him the night before he was going to head to the nursing home long term. We didn’t want to give him too much time to think about it but we wanted him to have time to say good-bye to his cat. My grandfather and his new cat

We decided to listen to the doctors and nurses that we knew and let him go to camp Monday morning as usual to keep him in his routine.  

Once the paperwork stuff was completed, my dad and I brought his coloring table into his new room along with all his clothes. I found my way down to the laundry room in the basement and met a nice man named Eddy who ironed on name tags to all my grandfather’s items. Everything including his socks and undies! -ha I was pretty impressed with the quickness and willingness to help from the staff. 

A New Chapter: Nursing Home Diaries {the day it all changed}

My grandmother and I set up my grandfather’s room while my dad setup his coloring table in one of the corners in the room. My grandfather helped me setup his craft box the night before so it had everything he wanted inside. A New Chapter: Nursing Home Diaries {the day it all changed}

My aunt brought my gram to his room around 2pm and they waited for my dad and I to pick up my gramp from camp and bring him to his new home. The first thing he said to me when we got inside the car was, “I can’t go home tonight?” I almost burst out crying. It was the saddest, most sincere question he had ever asked me. When I tell you it was heart wrenching, that is putting it mildly. Thankfully my dad was there and encouraged us to go see my grandmother in his new room and that she was waiting. How do you tell your 87 year old grandfather who as always been super strong physically and emotionally, that he now has to live in a nursing home away from his family? It’s not suppose to happen like this and it’s certainly not something I would ever wish on anyone. 

I snapped this picture on the last day I picked him up from camp before my dad and aunts had the conversation with him about living in the nursing home. He was pretty happy here and excited to get home to see my gram. I was dreading going home and being a part of the nursing home conversation.

A New Chapter: Nursing Home Diaries {the day it all changed}

We got my grandfather to his new room and he was glad to see my gram and aunt waiting. He met a few of the nurses and aids and was warmly greeted by many. We got his medications squared away with the nursing staff and got him settled in. My dad and I at one point were just about ready to take a nap on his bed as he ate his donut and enjoyed his ice coffee. -ha. Dunkin Donuts always puts a smile on my grandfather’s (and gram’s) face. 

A New Chapter: Nursing Home Diaries {the day it all changed}After a few hours and just before dinner time, we headed out so the staff could get my grandfather settled in for dinner time. It was really hard to not call his room and check on him later in the night. I wanted to call him around 8:30 pm because that’s when I would always say goodnight to him and say, “see ya in the morning gramp!” I didn’t want to startle him with the ringing of the phone and my fear was, he would be crying and want to come home. He gets pretty confused at night, especially after 5pm so while I know he would have wanted to talk to us, I think it would have made him even more confused. I don’t know. I really don’t know much about any of this stuff. None of it makes sense and none of it is nice. Do you know what I mean? None of it seems natural. None of it seems logical. 

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17 Comments

  1. Jess, Placing a parent or grandparent in a care facility is one of the hardest things in life for us. I was blessed in that my parents knew they could no longer live on their own and asked to be placed in an assisted living facility. It was when we had to move them to full nursing care that it almost broke my heart. They were able to share a room in the nursing home so that helped. They both had dementia. My dads was from small strokes and my moms was neurological. My prayer are with you and your family.

  2. Oh, Jessica, you and your family are doing so good considering these circumstances! Gramps will hopefully get used to his new surroundings and the facility should be well informed and experienced in handling his situation.

    It’s stressful for all of you. I know his mental confusion impacts his emotional situation as well. What else can you do? It’s like dealing with a small child sometimes, one that isn’t capable of understanding the whole picture or the consequences. I know from experience with the problems from my own hubby’s prior mental problems, they sometimes just can’t grasp all of the real reality.

    I admire you and your family and your Gramps – you are a real family and an example to us all. Thanks for sharing your journey, you just never know who you will help!

  3. Hang in there! Things will settle and he, and you, will get into a routine. Ask the staff for tips and suggestions. They do this every day…and visit as much as you can!

  4. This post left me in tears. Having gone through this, I know how hard it is. You are so fortunate that several of his children were involved in the decision. That is the help I did not have. My parents have passed now, but not many days go by without memories of all those sad times. This is what I learned. I am writing down exactly what my wishes are when my health begins to fail. I want my children to hire outside help for me as long as possible and then when things get too difficult to remind me I said I was willing to go to a nursing home. It still won’t be easy for them, but I hope they will remember it’s wasn’t against my will.
    And yes the cost is terrible! It totally wiped out everything my parents had.

  5. I’m so proud of you Jess! You have shown so many of us how important family is and to try to keep them with you as long as you can. Most important, you continue to make memories with your whole family even during the difficult decision times. Your all doing a great job and thank you so much for sharing it with all of us

  6. Rachel P. says:

    Dear Jessica, I have been following you for over a year now, and I must say that you are one heck of a woman! You seem to be the glue that holds all the generations together. When I started reading this one and saw the words “nursing home”, my heart ached for you. We’ve had 2 nursing home admissions in our family; my mother-in-law and my hubby’s maiden aunt who had no one else to depend on but us. My MIL did okay, as she has always been a gentle woman, but when dementia set in, of course things changed. The important thing was to make sure that she was clean, well fed, and was kept busy. I remember going once a week (she was in Maine, near her daughter), and I in NH, so once/week was all I could manage. But on that one day, it was “craft day” and we had so much fun. That was for the women. On that same day, the men would go on an adventure, like to a coffee shop or by the lake, just somewhere where they could be outside and visit casually with each other. The aunt’s stay was a little different – she did not have dementia, she was just quite ill, and she would call us every night because she wanted to come home. That was sad, and my Hubby always managed those conversations.
    So, Jessica, take a deep breath, look around at the remaining family members in your house, and take care of them, which I know you do. Visit him whenever you can, but don’t feel guilty if you’re not there every day. He is most likely being well taken care of, and he’s safe.
    You are in my thoughts and prayers for a journey that will become smoother as time goes on.

  7. Hang in there. You can only do the best you can. He knows this. The cost of care is crazy. We need the insurance companies and drug companies to cut their costs.. That would help more than all this other stuff. We also need more people willing to stay with someone at their house or to come and be there for 8-10 hrs. a day. I did this with both my parents. Had to quit my nursing job and go live with them as both needed me. I would stay 10 days and come home 5 days. Stay 10 days and come home 5 days.. The person( not a nurse) who relieved me was paid more than I get as a nurse. It is insane. Life never goes the way we think. It saved my parents enough money to keep them from having to go into a facility. HARD. You are doing great. We are all with you.

  8. Juanita in OH says:

    Oh, Jessica I truly feel for you, family and your Grandpa. This is such a horrendous thing to go through. I read your post with tears and that knot in my stomach. I continue to lift all of you up in prayer, God Bless.

  9. No words, but I’m so sorry. I’m crying with you, especially about your Grandpa having to say good bye to his cat. I know you all did all you could do for him and will continue to do so. I really hope he’ll be able to visit home (and cat) sometimes.

  10. So understand the sadness. I had to put my husband in a nurohome almost a year ago. He has Parkinson’s & dementia & had had a few small strokes. I found the dementia was the main deciding factor . SO hard to care for & keep safe when he was in & out of logic.

    I do find comfort in reading your posts. It helps to feel like I maybe did the only thing I could for him. I visit him daily & just know that laughing at as much as you can helps!

    Thanks for posting❣️

  11. Terri Hughes says:

    I will be keeping you all in my prayers, especially your grandfather. Praying that he adjusts quickly to the nursing home. It’s not an easy chose to have to make. I have been there, also. I know that it will be hard not having your grandfather at home, but I pray that God will help you and your family through this heart breaking time. God Bless you all.

  12. Christine Marek says:

    Jessica,
    You are writing from the heart and it shows how much you love and care about your family. This is going to be the best thing for him as dementia is a terrible disease that robs the mind one memory at a time.
    My husband and I cared for our Moms and it truly was the hardest thing we ever did. My Mom had multi fauceted vascular dementia. She had sundowners,Psychosis, Lewey Bodies and parkinsons. She had numerous other health issues so it was a true balancing act. We kept her at our home, took care of her till she passed away three years following diagnosis. Due to her difficult health she would die in less than 3 days in care facilities as they do not have the staff needed to give her the one on one she needed. With that said please know your grandfather will find his surroundings comforting and they love the schedules as that helps them from being so confused. Visit him regularly as that helps him remember he is loved. As time goes on you will all see he is where he can be free from causing trouble that is out of his control. I know how heartbreaking it is for the whole family but it will be okay. Give one another lots of hugs and talk to each other as you all will need that open communication through this journey.
    We will keep your gramps and all your family in prayer for this journey is heartbreaking yet love will get you through. I am grateful to see you writing about this journey as it will help others when they face it themselves one day with a loved one.

  13. My heart goes out to you and your family as we have been through this as well. Both of my grandparents had a very good experience in their nursing home but the transition and reality of it is very hard to take in. Positive thoughts for you all as you adjust.

  14. I know you squalled a bucket full just writing this post. I am crying right along with you. This is beyond hard. When mom fell and broke her wrist during the middle of alzheimer’s, she had to stay in the hospital over night I came into town to check on her. There she sat in her room crying. I said mama what’s wrong. She said, I have no one to talk to and I’m scared. OMGI went to the nurses desk and told them. I could hardly get it out for crying. They had no idea. I wheeled her down to the nurses desk and they entertained her after my visit. When she went into the nursing home, it was super hard. You cry at home and bring him love and gifts of your smiling face. Just know prayers are coming your way every single day.

  15. I’m very proud of you and your family for Making such a hard decision for the benefit of your grandpa. It’s very very hard to make choices like this but you are a strong family. Your grandpa looks happy and will be safe. Your in my prayers!

  16. My father has dementia and has been in 2 memory care facilities – both cater just to this population which makes a huge difference. It is a difficult decision but it is for safety and they do provide a lot of routine and also social interaction. He has his good and bad days, and is generally easy going at this point in his disease. We battled depression when he was first placed in a home (which he also was suffering at home with a caregiver – likely an impact on that middle dementia stage when they know what they are losing cognitively and are scared and frustrated). A facility does not have to be a death sentence…it is just a different chapter and your involvement in his care, his activities and staff will make a huge difference. We moved our father across states so we could visit often and it made a huge difference in his overall health. The new facility stepped down his meds and he now talks a lot, even if none of it makes sense. The staff is generally great but there is only so much they can do – having your grandfather remain ambulatory and able to feed himself and such will make his interactions with staff better since they can focus on him vs a task. Our dad enjoys the van outings and the music and exercise programs. It is not easy but focusing on the positives helps make an unbearable situation and disease a little easier and a healthy dose of laughter is even better. The conversations we overhear and the personalities of other residents as well as our dad can be very entertaining!! Hope he settles in and you all adjust as well as you can.

  17. Barbara Whitaker says:

    My Mom went into assisted living late 2002; she adjusted very well. My sister & I cried and wrapped our arms around each other as a ring of love, and prayed. And Cried…but the facility had 12 women & 1 man. They enjoyed eating dinner early in the evening together, On Sundays I visited with all the ladies and we all sat around and watched Lawrence Welk together. My mom’s Alzheimer’s was not diagnosed specifically and she was on a very small dosage of Zypexa and Aricept. After reading more recently of some persons with the disease; I believe it might have been Lewey Bodies. She of course was affected more while at home with Sundowners & Psychosis, but this improved when placed in the facility. Either the stage she was at in the illness, or less mental strain of having -1- bedroom vs 3000 square feet of house. Care at home: worked for a while with -1- of 2 caregivers; one didn’t understand the illness. Then she went to day care and said she was working (helped the others who were worse off). I was happy (?) my father predeceased her; your Grandmother is probably experiencing so much pain. But happy you have such a great network for her.