Source: Looking forward to Movie Night
Source: Walk with me….
The white lights of the Christmas tree shining make me feel calm and soothed. The glow illuminates not just light but warmth, the warmth of having loved ones close to you. My children do not live in town so I want all the time with them that is possible. I find it difficult to not measure how much time they spend with this relative or that relative. Have you ever done that? I remember my mom getting upset that my out-of town sister spent more time with her in-laws than with my parents when she visited.
Well now that my kids live between Columbus and the west coast, I try to find peace with that , finding my own way, my friends, living with the quiet. Funny, I can’t help but think of the times during those shared parenting moments that I was alone. For the last 10 years Mom and Dad lived with me. So Christmases were not quite alone. I could wander in and out of their in-law suite. This was the first year they are in assisted living and that was another adjustment.
My dad has become very minimalist. He wanted no part of a Christmas tree. What no Christmas tree! Christmas trees bring me to all those years as a child remembering my mom carefully retrieving the ornaments that she had since they were first married in 1951. All the times she yelled at my dad or us because we weren’t hanging the tinsel carefully enough or what about the years he cemented the tree into a pail so it had no chance of falling over.
Now, tinsel, what tinsel! When I brought a 2-foot tree to their little apartment, my dad scoffed at the idea. “How will I turn it on?” “I will trip over it!” “Too Much trouble”. “Takes up too much room”. I removed the objections one by one, adding a remote control so with the press of a button it was on or off, tucked it into a corner so it was out of the way and skipped the tinsel and ornaments. Just the colored lights! Ha, settled. He took the remote in hand and proceeded to joke with the next aide that walked in. He smiled and told her to clap her hands. Magic! The tree was lit! Let the season be bright.
My dad picked the phone and the man at the other end sounded a bit frantic. “Grandpa, I was in an accident.” “Matt is that you? It doesn’t sound like you,” my dad answered. “Yes, but I have a busted jaw and a bloody nose. I am in jail and I need your help” My dad become agitated, asked a few more question and “Matt” ended the conversation saying an attorney would be calling back because he needed money to get out of jail.
Fortunately, I was home and able to get the gist of the conversation quickly. First I called Matt to verify his condition then I called the police. They are certainly aware of these kinds of phone calls but said because many of these calls originate off shore , and there had not been a crime, there was nothing they could do about it. But sure enough, an “attorney from New York” called back and began to ask personal questions. My dad now told the guy he would have nothing to do with him, accused him of being a scam artist and if course, the man hung up. Way to go, Dad.
Whether they found out my family information from the internet, or verbal cues from my father or by randomly calling phone numbers, these ne’er do wells are still out there so it is a great time to remind your folks to never give out personal information or bank account numbers over the phone. The devil is at work preying on seniors to rob them of their financial resources, knowing that their family’s safety is paramount and they would do anything to help. Take some time to have a conversation about senior safety.
I love my parents and I love my grandchildren. How lucky I am that I got to spend time with them last weekend but boy am I tired. My parents, ages 84, and 82 require daily care. I am privileged that they live with me, but that also bears its burdens. While my grandchildren, ages 41/2 and 3, visited last week, I also had to squeeze in an 8:15 a.m. appointment for my dad. He has an aortic aneurysm that needed to be checked. So I am the one who takes him to major doctor appointments. Definition of major appt: a meeting with the doctor to diagnose or make a prognosis. Often times aging parents may not “listen” to what they are “hearing” (or not hearing), so I need to be there to make sure they don’t overreact or under react to what the doctor is saying. That meant making sure someone was there to watch the little ones while I drove the older one. My significant other, Ray, volunteered. Did I say volunteer? Nudging might be a better description, God love him. By the time I returned they had devoured cookies that they discovered in my parents’ pantry, the little guy had taken my son’s glasses and put them away……somewhere. And of course, toys were strewn about the family room. My days of complaining about being an empty nester are over. Be careful what you ask for, I say.
The good news is that I shed two pounds over the weekend. I think that happened when I was chasing the darlings up and down the bleachers, back and forth to the bathroom and concession stand and off the playing field during a high school soccer game we were attending for Ray’s son.
The costs of assisted living facilities can be so high and the paperwork so immense, it is enough to make one’s head spin. My parents are becoming more dependent on me and it becomes increasingly difficult to provide them with all they need on my own but here’s the deal. My significant other, Ray, and I have come upon a possible alternative – creating our own assisted living facility. We have found a century home. Actually, it was built in the 1880s and has been converted into a comfy place. Seniors, who can no longer cook or live alone, can come to enjoy life with the company of others, have their own space and not feel like they are in an institution. This house, has an addition with another several bedrooms, about 10 in total. We are contemplating taking over the operations of our own version of “This Old House.”
Hmmm,,, it is a terrific opportunity to give back and take in folks just like in the old days. I had heard stories about families taking care of older generations. After all, they can pass along the wisdom. Of course, if they have any memory issues, they tell you stories again, and again, and again which I have become accustomed to with my own father. But it is important for them to be engaged and if that means hearing him tell me that the garbage needs to go out five times, so be it.
So come along with me as I try to determine what our next adventure will be.
I have found another intriguing option for senior adults. Group homes for seniors….I visited a couple of these homes in Greater Cleveland and it seems like such a comforting way and a great alternative for seniors. One, Grand Living, in Copley, Ohio is run by Mary Bloom and is a residential care facility that has all the amenities of home life including an outside deck, an eat-in kitchen and an elevator to go from the main living area to the lower level. The suites are furnished with beautiful beds and dressers. Another facility called, Heart n Home in Seven Hills, was a bustle of activity with 10 seniors living there. They have semi-private rooms and large, family room, eating area and a relaxed atmosphere. These options both have small ratios of patient to staff and provide nursing care when needed. It got me thinking about the possibility of providing this kind of are for my parents.