Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"A Place for Mom"

I have worked at three different nursing homes and I volunteer at three of them. Ask me what really goes on there? I will tell you that even in the best of them it is not "A Place For Mom". That's the headline to a commercial, in case you don't know. I realize some people have no choice but to put someone in a nursing home. This might include a spouse who was so old that soon he would need skilled care as well, assuming that he and his wife had no children. But what I don't understand is why so many Americans think that "busy" is a reason to dump granny. Yea, I think that's a fair term. You ought to see the old people lined up in a wheel chairs at one place I visit. They line the entry way on Saturdays waiting for someone to come get them out. I wondered why so many (read:all) of them were in wheel chairs (can't any of them walk?) but it makes perfect sense: they stick them in wheel chairs, otherwise, the residents would press their nose to the glass!!!! You might wonder why I am so hard on people that do this (nothing get the defenses up like suggesting granny might not belong there), and I will tell you why... First, I see them every day. I get the privelege of playing the piano for those who get left behind on Saturdays. I watch their sad faces in the "social" hall, resigned to the reality that they've been ditched. Again. One day as I was entering, I witnessed the following: a very affluent Asian man, maybe in his forties, drove up to the nursing home in an expensive town car. He didn't even LOOK over at his immaculately dressed Asian mother, but stared out the rear view mirror as she let herself out. She was using a walker (the only one I had seen in the place all week), and she let herself out. Not a good by from him. No "let me get the door". She struggled to get her self, walker and all, out of the car while he completely ignored her. She closed the car door.Then, without a word, he drove off not waiting to see if she got in alright. This is truly depressing because in Asia, they know better; see, over there, they would never think of putting their parent anywhere but in their own home, with the parents grandchildren right at hand. I wonder if the second she got in the door, they didn't put her in a wheel chair to keep her out of the way (I never see walkers in there). What sickens me is too think how fast she will deteriorate. I see it happen all the time. But the closest to home is my own late mother in law. Barbara was a wonderful mother in law, but she was very trusting. Her youngest son was in to drugs and she kept giving him money. He scammed her out of $35,000 before my brother in law helped her get an apartment, and got her a secure phone where she could not contact his scammer brother. But Barb was a co-dependant and it didn't work...her wayward son kept finding a way to get in touch with his mom. He was a user and she was an enabler, so neither of them seemed uncomfortable with the arrangement. We began to question if maybe she was slipping mentally. She clearly needed to be protected from this guy. Before I knew i, my brother in law has put her into a nursing home. "well" I thought, "maybe in this situation it's for the best". I called her the first week, and she told me how much she loved it there. I asked her if she wanted to be their and she insisted it was wonderful. And to be fair, it was a very nice facility. But again, it wasn't home. Well, I waited, and then about two weeks later I called her. She seemed depressed. We came for a visit. "I miss my grandkids" she told me. "Mom, what do you mean? The girls are right here?" My toddler had crawled into bed with her, and my infant was beside her "I mean ALL my grand kids" I asked her if she didn't visit them, and she said they were not visiting all of the time like she had hoped (they lived right around the corner). I could tell she wanted out. Oh but what a war from the in-laws! I never won that fight. Within one month, she was gone. To glory. Departed.