My grandmother was a wonderful presence in my life. I loved her very much, and will always hold the memories we created together dear to my heart. One memory in particular stands out in my mind when I was in grade school. My grandmother lived in a small town in Wyoming, and one day we made sandwiches for a picnic lunch, packed up the car, and set out on an adventure. It was a road trip clear across the state of Wyoming, to my uncles home in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
My grandmother was independent, and lived alone after becoming a widow. Soon after my grandfather passed away, she began working at a local sheep ranch. I would sometimes tag along to work with her, and she would let me use the adding machine and typewriter. For some of my early childhood I was fortunate enough to live near her, and I would often stop by her house on my way home from school for cookies, milk and piano lessons. The summer I spent living with her as a teenager, while working at a local caf, was one Ill never forget. Her love of gardening and walks helped me develop my green thumb, and desire to remain active.
On one particular visit, my 4 young children and myself went to visit my grandmother,and walked to her local Senior Center for lunch. I was surprised to see her struggling with counting out the money to pay for our lunches. This was the same person who had been in charge of managing the accounts for a bustling ranch before she retired. As a family, we were in denial of her declining memory and health. I wanted my grandmother to be the woman who shoveled her own coal into her basement furnace. The grandmother, who played the organ, sang, and had community members come to her home, to notarize their paperwork.
We wanted my grandmother to continue to be independent, but she soon started locking herself out of her home in the dead of winter. It helped to ease our minds a bit when a visiting nurse began stopping by my grandmothers to periodically check in on her. However, she soon became sick, and we had no choice but to admit her to the hospital. Kindly professionals let our family know that decisions had to be made, and that my grandmother could not return home. She finished her life in a nursing home, which was attached to the hospital. She longed for her independence and old home, and was always trying to escape.
If only I had the knowledge then that I have now, things might have been different for her. First, I would encourage families and seniors to start early in making preparations for upcoming changes in their lives. I would then take the time to find out what options are available in my community. Can my loved one stay in their home with private paid help? My grandmother could have come to live with me if I had known about Adult Day Health. This allows seniors to go to the center for the day where they have classes, entertainment, exercise, lunch, and are monitored by an RN. Another option is Assisted Living, which we could have explored and specifically looked at one designed for those with memory loss. Maybe my grandmother would have been more comfortable in an Adult Family Home. This is a home in the community, which feels like home but provides professional care and safety.
Nobody wants to grow old, but we all will. Decisions can and should be made while individuals are able to make their own choices. Do you want to look into long-term care insurance? Do you want to move into assisted living where you do not have to worry about your home or yard upkeep,continue to develop your hobbies,and be active with your friends? Discharge planners and social workers can provide information about hospitals and skilled nursing facilities,which can make planning these transitions go much more smoothly.
Your loved ones life can have a happily ever after ending,in a place that is suited for their personal needs. Denial isnt going to solve any problems, and by facing the issues, good solutions can be found.