So everything is ready for a discharge from the hospital. Due to a desire to move on or to an unfortunate loss of autonomy the sleep tonight will happen at a new address, a private retirement residence. It is a big step. Remember the first day of high school? Is my hair ok? What will they think of my clothes? Who will be my new friends? …add to that What will they think of me walking with a walker? Will the staff be nice? My apartment, are all my things there already? What about all the stuff at my apartment/house? My medication, do I have it with me? Lots of emotions (fear, insecurities, anxious, overwhelmed…) and lots of thoughts on a day like today.
Knowing the new address has been determined the homework was done before hand to choose the proper environment for the person being assisted, that in itself is a whole other step (research, visiting, deciding, signing papers, setting up).
Here are things to keep in mind moving towards the discharge date and the move-in day. See other posts on hospital discharge http://helpingseniors.ca/2014/03/ Try to get to the residence before noon to maximize the adjustment period in as much daylight as possible, have a meal ready or reserve a table in the dining room. Your goal is to focus on the needs of the elderly person you are accompanying, so cell phone should be off, if you must communicate with someone inform them of it. Remember that today your loved one is feeling scrutinized by everyone and everything, kindness of the biggest sense is on demand today!
If you sit in the dining room for lunch ensure that “the new resident” is the one with the best view of the dining room to allow them to see who else lives there, to see the interaction between staff and residents. If there is hearing issue in one or both ears try to choose a quiet corner if you can, mention it to the serving staff as to what ear to direct their voice to. If the meal is eaten in the apartment by yourselves look over the calendar of activities and discuss what they find interesting if anything at all.
After lunch, does the nursing staff want to meet with you and your loved one? Is there any outstanding ‘administrative issues’ to discuss or finalize? If so does it have to be done today or could you come back for that? Do make sure that emergency contacts have been provided, medication is in the right hands (or in the right place in the apartment), and any specific requests such as do not resuscitate papers or end of life wishes have been communicated and put in the file.
In the afternoon is there an activity going on? Perhaps your parent does not want to join in but simply going to see might be an idea, perhaps they could be introduced to a couple other residents, other staff members, and also at the same time revisit a part of the building to help orient them a little. Is there a possibility of introducing them to a staff member that will guide them for the next couple days by introducing your parent to a neighbor, the other residents with who they will share a table with, the receptionist and all other important people that will play a role in providing guidance and support at this time.
The hardest moment is about to come…when it is time for you to leave and to leave your elderly parent by themselves to sleep in a new environment in the new fragile state they might be in. Remind yourself that the homework has been done, this is the best solution, the best room, the best support that you have found and can afford. If it were me I would leave about an hour before dinner so your parent can have a bit of down time and when you know that someone will guide them to the dining room. I would call in the evening to wish them good night and speak with them in the morning. Hard it is but know that you have done everything in your power to have everything right. If your approach throughout this whole process was about finding a solution and not “placing” then nothing else in my eyes could be asked of you. http://helpingseniors.ca/argh-i-hate-the-term-to-place-a-senior/
Next blog will look at the desire to age in place, and what to look at in terms of renovating or making sure to have all in place at home.