Carehomes: Not for wimps

Lodi lake

Those who spend any time at all in Care homes  come away with a new appreciation for the people who live there and the people who work there. Since Elaine’s Mom was moved into an assisted living facility I accompany her there quite often. I have said in the past that Care homes are the great equalizer. Assisted living care homes are kind of like a glammed up version of the other kind. The kind where people never leave their beds or their chairs.

I have come up with my own names for these places, and you might have come up with your own:  

Roach Motel


Heaven’s Portal

Last stop before death

I don’t mean to make light of a situation that I know first hand is a very tough and in some cases very agonizing decision, but my humor gets me through a lot and I call on it often. Sometimes there is nothing else you can do.

The other day Elaine went to take her Mom’s laundry back. She went up to room 12 but her door was locked. She knocked… answer. She went to the neighboring facility but she wasn’t there either. With arms full of stuff, she went back and asked the staff. Then she got the key and unlocked the door. Her Mom had locked herself in. When Elaine asked her why she didn’t come to the door she shrugged. “Tired, I guess.” Was all she said.

Part of the reason may be a lady who tends to follow people around. Joyce always refers to her as a he. Her hair is very short. Martha tends to get in your face. She came up to where Elaine and her Mom were sitting in the common room and proceeded to poke Elaine in the chest where her glasses were hanging. She gets aggressive at times.

Referring to Martha, one of the aides remarked, “You know she’s gay, right?” Elaine remarked, “I don’t care what she is, I just don’t want my glasses broken.” Evidently, one day Martha cornered one of the aids in a room and asked for a kiss. The aide turned her cheek to her, but Martha grabbed her and turned her head and layed one on her full force. Even tried to give her some tongue. EEW! The aide said, “I couldn’t believe how strong she was!”

As they continued to visit, Martha kept coming back. Then she got real close to Joyce and was rubbing her shoulder. Elaine felt her Mom stiffen up. She knew what was coming.

Her Mom has always had a problem with touching of any kind.  That’s a psychological study all on its own. She has always frowned on any public (or private for that matter) display of affection. “Why is he doing that?” She said to Elaine and then as she grabbed Martha’s hand in a vise grip, she said. “If you don’t stop, I will knock you across the room.”

The manager was sitting across the room and had to stifle her laughter behind the paperwork she was unsuccessfully trying to finish.

Then there is Jim. We met the first time when he backed us into his room after we remarked about his pictures. He blocked the doorway with his wheelchair and proceeded to tell us how he could still do all kinds of stuff. He proceeded to stand up as he said, “Even sex.” Needless to say, we backed out of the room as soon as we could. The staff said that Jim gets hostile as well. He also threatened the cook and called him, let’s just say the worst thing you could call a black person.

His son left him there and hasn’t been back since. From what I have seen, I have learned to withhold my judgement when I hear stories like that. There is grief and heartache all the way around a situation like that.

I heard one little old lady named Lucy say one day, “Jesus is not in here.” But I don’t totally agree with Lucy. There are saints there. People who do the jobs no one else wants to do, for very little money.

And we have met people there that we have fallen in love with. Despite where they are, they have brought the Light in with them. One of them is Ardis. Ardis used to work in theater and she has a big wave for us and a smile whenever we see her. She always looks sharp and her hair is always stylish. Ardis had a stroke and her words tumble out all scattered and out-of-order. But sometimes she says a perfect sentence, and then beams.

Sometimes you can get the gist of what she means, and sometimes it’s like playing charades. But she always laughs along with us. Lately she hasn’t felt well, and we are worried.

Then there is John. He is a sweet-heart. Both Ardis and John have family who come in all the time.

Whenever I go there, I am always a bit uneasy. I sense the Grim-Reaper in the halls. I sense the hopelessness that Satan brings wherever he goes, sometimes his foul breath curdles the air. Sometimes he needles me with fear.

He taunts me. 

This is your future home……..Strangers to eat with, strangers to sit with………having to trust someone you don’t know…..this is your future.

But I know different. I remember the ones like Ardis, and Jim. How they carry their hope with them, and though their bodies are failing, their spirits are full of life, of love. They have made the decision to trust in something bigger than themselves.

When we visited Ardis, she said….”I…..ready……

And she looked toward Heaven.

She is. She knows who holds her future. And so do I.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Answers from the Psalms

6 thoughts on “Carehomes: Not for wimps

  1. You are right Lori, I sometimes feel guilty because I want to see Ardis and not my own Mother, Ardis is very special…

  2. Lori,

    My 92 year old father in law took a fall in the local hospital and had to be rushed over to Sioux Falls for emergency hip surgery. That was immediately followed by a month-long inpatient stay, during which time the family met via phone conference (most of Joy’s family live in Minneapolis, while we were the nearest – living in Sioux Falls at the time). The upshot for us was when dad was to be discharged, either he’d go into a nursing home, or we would move in with him and be the caregivers. We chose the latter course, and I gave up a lousy paying job working for Delta for a no paying job. Something about “Do unto others…”

    1. Rick….yes, my friend did the same thing, except she gave up a very good job to care for her Mom for two years, even though her Mom wasn’t ever there emotionally or physically for her. She just figured it was the right thing to do no matter how her Mom was to her. I commend you for making that choice. You have to do what you can live with after they are gone and even though it was very difficult, my friend has no regrets 🙂

      1. Nor do I – it was what got me back into blogging, so it’s all good. Crazy, but good 🙂

        Oh, another term for you – God’s waiting room(s) – that can also be applied to Florida and Arizona 🙂

      2. God’s waiting room, yes you are right. And my friend went from an insurance agent to a school bus driver when she took her Mom in so she could have time in the middle of her day. And she really likes it 🙂

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