Monday, December 30, 2013

The Search for a Place

It's hard to believe that Billy has lived in Lexington Place for almost two years...January 24th will mark that anniversary.  I will never forget how much my heart hurt when I left him there, and he was so upset with me. I would still prefer to have him with me, but I know he is in good hands, and the care he gets is what he needs. He is so comfortable there, I have to sort of drag him out of the unit when I take him somewhere. Once a month, someone takes him to another area of the nursing home to be weighed, and the staff tells me that he is very resistant to leaving the unit. 

In the last two years, Alzheimer's has taken so much from 
Billy. The man who was NEVER at a loss for words hardly ever speaks.  He will answer Yes/No questions fairly clearly, but we often have to ask him something multiple times. It takes a while for him to process. When I arrive to visit, I have to get in his direct line of vision, so he knows I'm there. He still recognizes me and knows I am his wife...I know he does, but he never calls me by name. Some days he is happier than others and smiles readily, but not always. Today he would hardly make eye-contact and was scowling about something. He finally gave me a slight smile after I had been there for an hour. He eats well, but he has to be fed. He walks with assistance or holding onto rails. Getting out of chairs is difficult, but getting him to sit in a chair is harder. He has trouble understanding where his body is, and he's had a few falls when trying to sit down. I was visiting with a few of the aides the other day, and one of them is fairly new.  The aide who has been there almost as long as Billy was telling us that when she met Billy she thought he was a visitor because he seemed so "normal."  The decline in the last two years leaves no question about whether he is a resident or visitor. 

My dad is experiencing rapid decline also. Mom and I spent the day looking for a secure memory facility in our area of the metroplex for Dad. He is in a truly wonderful facility, but the cost is prohibitive, even with Dad's long term care insurance (thank God for that!), and Mom is not comfortable driving that far to see him.  My sister and I take Mom to see him when we can.  Three of the places with secure units in this area are full, and that includes Lexington Place which was our first choice.  We did find a place that may work because they keep the doors locked and alarmed. Patients who are an "elopement" risk (just love that term) wear an additional alarm on their ankles or on their wheel chairs. 

Dad is unable to walk after his two falls in early November. His dementia is much worse, and when he talks, he uses real words, but they make no sense. He eats well, and with some medication changes, we are told he is much calmer. He has a bad day now and then, but on most days he allows the staff to assist him. He hasn't worn shoes in a few weeks because he has cellulitis in his feet, so the therapy he is getting is not helping him walk.  Our hope has been that he can be mobile again, but we are questioning that.  

On the homefront, Mom is settling into living with us, and we love having her here. I know it's such a big change for her - going from her own large home of 30+ years to a two bedroom apartment and now living with us and our three canine family members. I'm thankful she likes dogs and tolerates ours so well - Annie likes to sleep in Mom's room sometimes. I love having Mom here, and I believe we will live together for a long time. We get along very well thankfully, and she's pretty easy going.  I'm grateful that she can be with us while going through cancer treatment. We think she has only one more chemo treatment! 

So much has happened in 2013, and who knows what might come in 2014!  My prayer is that good things happen - slowed progression of Billy's and Dad's diseases and complete healing of Mom's cancer. Whatever comes, we can handle it because God has it covered. We are prayed for often, and we know that - it's evident.  Happy New Year and God Bless you all. 

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