New Beginnings

Dad in the Navy
Dad in the Navy

If I look at as a new phase of many new phases in one life, it doesn’t really seem so bad. It doesn’t seem like an ending, but a new beginning.

About two-and-a-half weeks ago I drove to Elgin to help move my dad to a long-term care facility because he needed more care than my mom could give him. There was long-term care insurance in place and it really seemed like a relatively simple process. Admit him, promise to pay the deductible, do some paperwork and maybe shed a tear or two. I figured I’d be home by the following weekend at the latest.

Well, Dad’s in the facility, but it was not a simple process by any measure. What with insurance fine-print, arrogantly incompetent doctors, hospitals that pretend to be 4-star hotels and care more about their image than the families of their patients, I lost several nights’ sleep, went through high levels of stress and am still in Elgin.

Dad seems to have settled into the facility fairly easily. He seems to be more concerned about when his next meal is than where his family is or why he is not at home. He’s going to get physical therapy 3 times a week and has a multitude of people to talk to — people who have not heard about his 4-year stint in the Navy or about the time, when he was a child, that he accidentally burned down the school-house. He was always a social person and has not really had the opportunity to be around people for many years. He may not get along with everyone there, but I am confident that this is the right place for him.

This is just a new part of his life, just as going to school was when he was 5; just as entering the Navy was when he was 20; just as marrying my mom was when he was 26: just as becoming a father when he was 28; just as the times he changed jobs and finally retired. He has a new home now at the age of 82.

PS: Yes, I know I’m rationalizing it and, although what I wrote above is true, going to a nursing home, while probably for the best, is not a positive experience for the person going.

9 thoughts on “New Beginnings

    1. Thanks, Mali. We visited him today and he seems okay. He looked better than I’d seen him in years and my mom even gave him a hug — something that I’d not seen in a long time. We spoke to several other residents and they all said it was a good place to be.

      It is the best thing — but the best thing is not always the easiest thing.

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  1. Beautiful piece, Dona. I’m sure it has meant so much to your mom to have you there during what has to be a difficult transition for her, too. Love, Judy

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  2. Oh, my goodness, I had no idea you were going through this. I hope he settles in well, and your mother gets a break. You must be exhausted.

    My sister and I are in the throes of finding a place for my 92-year-old mother, who is not well enough to go into assisted living, but will need a nursing home.

    Blessings on us all.

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  3. And then there’s my almost-90 year old mother who is [arguably] not ready for assisted living and is as stubborn as a mule. And five hours away from her only living child — me. And I won’t even begin to try to describe the surreal series of telephone calls I have been through with her in the last 20 minutes.

    It’s hell to get old and sometimes you have to do things that aren’t easy and I would be rationalizing too if I were you but you DID do the right thing!

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  4. You know, my aunt Sarah went into a nursing home at age 93, knowing that she wouldn’t be coming out. And it was a giant weight off her shoulders, at least how she seemed and talked about it after she went in. She was in good enough health to eat in the cafeteria, her daughter-in-law visited several times a week, someone else was taking care of the details, basically. She died only a few months after entering, though, and so had a respite instead of a sentence, which is how it would have been if she’d gone in, say, 10 years ago when she started feeling fragile.

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  5. And not the most positive experience for other family members either, from the sounds of it. I really like this post, maybe because it’s so unsentimental and yet so moving.

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