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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.