Dad moved into Assisted Living almost 3 weeks ago. We got him settled in on Monday, but we all were a little emotional as we pulled away. It was difficult to face leaving him there – more on my brother and mother, since they live out of town. I do feel that it was time to make this move – it was becoming more and more difficult for my mother to manage his care at home. But it still hurt to think of him living apart from his family. While I like the staff and feel that they care about the residents, it isn’t the same as having family around. Fortunately, I live close enough to see him often.
I went by to see him that Tuesday and Wednesday – he seemed grateful to see me, although he kept asking when I was taking him home! Unfortunately, 3 days into his stay, he fell and broke his hip, so we spent most of that Thursday in the Emergency Room and then in a hospital room. The next day, he had partial hip replacement surgery – according to the orthopedic surgeon, all went as well as expected. The road ahead will be long, though, as he faces weeks, possibly months, of rehab to regain his strength and balance. He was already having issues with both before the fall, so we don’t know how successful this process will be. Of course, it is complicated by his dementia, since it is difficult to explain why he has to stay in bed for now, unless someone is there to help him, and why he has to stay where he is while we go home each night.
The one thing I am grateful for in all of this is that he was here when it happened. He had been living 900 miles away from me, with my mother, but we all agreed that it made sense for him to move to Assisted Living close to me. If this had happened somewhere else, I would be even more worried about him than I already am. At least I know that I will be able to see him regularly, to encourage him in his physical therapy.
He is currently in the Skilled Nursing unit at the hospital – we expect he will be there about another week, and then hopefully be able to move into a rehab facility. The ultimate goal is to get him back to Assisted Living, but that will only happen if he is able to get out of bed himself. So far, that hasn’t happened.
The good news is that 12 days after surgery, he was able to walk 52 feet with only moderate PT assistance. Up to that point, the most he had done was take about 3 steps (1/2 steps, really) from the bed to a chair. The fact that he was able to shuffle down the hall gives me hope that he will be able to return to Assisted Living. He doesn’t seem to be in pain, although he has always had a high threshold. The biggest problem is the frustration he seems to feel when he wants to get up to go to the bathroom, but can’t. I am hopeful that he will be able to channel that frustration into motivation!
Over the last 3 weeks, doctors, nurses, social workers, and nursing assistants have all commented on how sweet he is. One referred to his dignity. Another mentioned that he always says thank you, whether to the food service employee bringing dinner, to the nurse changing his sheets, or to me for visiting. And one called him a true gentleman. A truly gentle man. And that he is.