Friday, March 17, 2017

Settled In

I know exactly why my grandfather changed his mind and decided to move up here closer to his daughter, grandchild (me) and great grandchildren. It wasn't because my wife and I were more convincing in our reasoning that we gave them over Christmas. It was because my mom, their daughter, has brain cancer. Although it is technically still in remission, it is still there and isn't curable. Depending on when it comes back, my mom may have options to prolong her life further, but ultimately it will be a terminal disease. Brain cancer is measured in the percentage of people who live five years with the disease. In my mom's case, she has a 25% chance of living that long. I'm sure all this played heavily in my grandparent's decision.

This also scares me too because if my mom becomes unable to offer my grandparents assistance during their remaining years, I'm by default, probably going to inherit the brunt of that task. After nearly 20 years of only seeing my grandparents once or twice a year due the distances involved, it will be nice for an excuse to play catch up with them. But it may also be a serious time commitment and that scares me. However, even if it turns out to be the worst of all time commitments and I'm looking back at it with 20/20 vision, I know I would still do it because we are family and that is what families do.

Onward with the rest of the story though.

My parents got my grandparents escorted up here via the only direct flight between our airports to make things as easy as possible. However when they arrived, I could tell they were exhausted and I think more from dealing with my grandfather than the physical kind. As I later learned, I was right. As my grandfather's health has declined to the point where he can't see very good, can't hear much of anything unless you talk loud and into his hearing aid and much of his mobility has gone, he has become somewhat of a bear to be around. I don't blame him because I absolutely understand the frustration, loss of pride, depression that he is going through. As I help him, I keep reminding myself that it isn't his fault that he is that way, it is just what he has become due to everything else. Still, it is mentally exhausting some days repeating that to myself over and over.

Because all my grandparent's furniture was being hauled up from Florida by my uncle, it didn't arrive for two and a half days which meant that I played host for my grandparents. We made good use of the time by getting my grandfather comfortable and then my grandmother and I would head out to do all those things that one must do when moving to a new location/life. Finally the furniture arrived and I don't think I have ever seen my uncle and his wife, my parents, and the rest of my family moves so fast to get it unloaded and into their new apartment. We decided to have them spend one more night with us so that we can get another day under our belt helping them unpack and settle in and hopefully a little sanity will return as we all get a breather.

Their new home is in a complex run by the Good Samaritan Society. My grandparents will live in an independent living building for now that provides some services like one meal a day, cleaning and some shuttles around town for shopping but no personal type care. If/when they should need assistance with their personal care, they can hire someone to help them where they live or transition into an assisted care facility across the parking lot. If necessary, there is also a nursing home/hospice building as well. I've never met a more cheery, friendly staff and clients staying in the independent living part of the complex. With all the benefits and perks, I think it would be a great way to live out my remaining independent years and I'm sure my grandmother will thrive there. I'm not so sure that my grandfather isn't already to the point where he needs outside personal care but that is something I don't want to dwell on here right now. They are still settling in and for now, I'm making daily trips out there to help them get settled in.

Funny how history sometimes repeats itself. Though I was too young to have any memories, my great grandfather stayed down in Florida too long and eventually had a stroke that rendered him unable to talk or walk. He didn't want to fly so my grandparents went down to bring him home and only when they arrived at the airport did he realize that he was going to fly whether he wanted to or not. Fast forward and my grandfather has stayed down in Florida too long and now needs a walker to get around (and with a lot of effort on his part) and initially didn't want to fly. My family actually talked about surprising him at the airport but he eventually capitulated on his own and flew anyway with my parents flying down to escort him back. I can't see my parents ever wanting to live in Florida, no offense to any Floridians who read this, so I don't think I have to worry about that but someday I may be escorting one of them or both back from where ever they may be. History has a history of repeating itself.


Bob said...

Glad you have completed this part of the journey. Yours doing a great job and I know your grandparents appreciate you.

Have been through something similar with my in-laws, as I have previously mentioned, but they stayed in the city where they have lived for 50-plus years (Little Rock) and we can be there in about 5.5 hours if we need to. Both 88, she is doing great. He's deteriorated a bit in the past year and probably could not live alone if she were to die first. I love them both to death and consider it a privilege to be able to help them as much as I can on this end of their lives. (But that doesn't mean it's easy, as you have learned).

Kelly said...

It sounds like an ideal arrangement for a less than ideal time of life. You've been a busy, busy family and I know you're thankful to now be at this point, no matter what challenges the future might still hold.

A dear friend's mother made a similar move and she is not only thriving, but blossoming in her new life at the nursing home!

Ed said...

Bob - I feel much more relieved now that it is all said in done. The time commitment thus far is as much or little as I want to make it which suits me just fine!

Kelly - It really is a nice place and when asking around town, it alone got all good comments so I was really surprised that when I inquired, they had two units available. The one my grandparents took was at the end of the hall meaning my Grandpa has to walk about 50 yards to eat once a day. He bitched about it for a day or two but now seems just fine with it. In fact, it has helped him strengthen up quite a bit since it forces him to get out of his recliner at least once during the day and use his muscles.

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

It's so hard to watch the people who once cared for us become dependent on us. It's hard on them too. Having them there and getting them settled will make it easier on you guys to give that care. And having had my own share of experiences with crabby senior citizens, you'll get some good blog fodder too! :)
I am sorry to hear about your mom.

Ed said...

Pumpkin Delight - I definitely have more sources of blog fodder these days!

sage said...

It is hard getting older. Sadly, I was only able to watch my grandmother age (and great-grandparents) as the other three of my grandparents died my age or younger due to smoking. It is nice for him to be with his daughter and I can imagine how tough this is on your parents who, from what you have shared, have been very active. Blessings!