We had Grandma’s social worker here today.
It was by my request. It’s been a rough transition for Grandma since the move. I knew that the relocation was probably going to create a lot of uncertainty and confusion for Grandma, but I don’t think I realized how much.
We’ve been here nearly three weeks and every time Grandma gets off the couch to go to the bathroom she still goes the wrong way. The increased time spent in going the wrong way has resulted in a fair number of accidents. After only having had to bathe her once in over two years, she and I have now more or less developed a bathing routine after this happens. It takes over an hour each time.
Her overall confusion is worse…she can’t follow instructions. She can handle one thing at a time, but anything more than one step leads to a stop in activity and an increase in fidgeting.
I also didn’t realize how bad her eyesight had gotten. When she moved into the rental house over two years ago she could still see well enough to navigate around. By the time we moved she could navigate it with her eyes closed. Apparently that’s pretty much what she’s been doing. The new location highlights for me the fact that she is now functionally blind. She can see color and shape, but she can’t make out enough detail to navigate successfully through her new environment.
Moves are tough for anyone, and Grandma’s had three major moves in the past 5 years. Even I’ve been having a tough time adjusting to the new routine, so I can only imagine how she must feel.
The first weekend after we moved in I had successfully shepherded Grandma into the bathroom and felt pleased with myself for avoiding another potentially messy morning. I figured she’d be in there awhile. I went out to the garage to try to unpack and organize a little. When I came back in to the house, the bathroom was unoccupied, so I went to the living room expecting to see Grandma on the couch. No Grandma. I went into her bedroom. Still no Grandma.
I freaked out a little bit and headed straight for the front door. When I got to the porch I found her, sitting in a chair, enjoying the warm summer air and the peacefulness of the yard.
She sat out there for over four hours. We ate breakfast outside, and sat quietly enjoying the trees and crows and squirrels. I only brought her in after I looked over and she was slumped over, asleep in the chair.
She would occasionally sit on the front porch of the old place, but we lived on a busy arterial, and I think it was just too chaotic for her. The new view is much more relaxing.
The good news is, Grandma seems to be doing slightly better the past few days. She’s gone to bed in her bed each of the last two nights, on her own. She still seems to think the bathroom is the wrong direction, but we’ve got her in adult diapers, and that definitely helps if in no other way than it decreases her panic about “making it”.
(I had been considering whether to mention the diapers, but then my Dad said “Wait, you mean to tell me that she’s 101 and she’s just NOW wearing diapers? Lots of people not much older than ME (he’s 67) wear diapers!”- and I realized that at her age, what does it matter?)
The social worker today gave us some good information about resources available to us, additional ways to make Grandma comfortable and resources for me. I’ve been insistent that I want Grandma to be able to live out her life at home and I intend to see that through.
Still, when I’m honest with myself, one of the reasons I asked the social worker to come out today was to double check my own judgement. I wanted someone else to do an assessment and let me know if I’m in over my head. In the end, she was complimentary (as she always is) and let me know that I’m doing alright.
Tonight I sat on the edge of Grandma’s bed and talked to her. She noticed some of the boxes in her room and said with some hesitation:
“Looks like someone’s packing…”
I told her that they were her things that haven’t been put away yet. I then assured her that she was going to be here and that perhaps this weekend she could help me finish setting up her room. She patted my arm and started to get into bed:
“Lift my legs into bed?” she asked.
I tucked her in: “Here you go, Grandma. I love you”
“A bushel and a peck…” And she drifted off to sleep. In her bed. At home.