Saturday, January 4, 2020

It is hard to live so far away

This is the Prince's grandmother.  The mother of his father and his Uncle.  The great grandmother to 14.  Living in the same neighborhood for 30 years.  Friend and good neighbor to all those around her.  Do not forget faithful church member, prayer warrior, and worrier to the list of amazing Nan attributes. 

This is what 85 looks like.  

This is what 93 looks like.
 (just a new kind of necklace) 

 There have been some challenges in recent years, but for the most part 95 has presented about the same. Independent living, with the assistance of others to get her to appointments and to the store. She however, is still maintaining her tidy living space preparing her own meals, and keeping up with her own schedule.   Until a few weeks ago.  

She (and we) because of the distance we live from her, are remarkably blessed to have family and friends that call and stop over to make sure that she is doing ok with regularity.  Of course anytime one of the kids or ourselves are in town, Nan visits are always one of the top things on our list. 

This is what 95 looks like.
(this past August )

Thanksgiving this year! 
(still 95 looks pretty good!) 

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, my brother called to say that she was struggling with her tv and remote, and if you know Nan at all, you know this is a pretty regular occurrence.  So he popped in and got things working for her again, but by the time he got home, she had called to say it was not working again.  He and I  talked that evening and he indicated that she seemed a bit "off" but could have just been having a bad day.  

I told the Prince.  

The prince, since forever, that I can remember, calls his grandmother every evening. Monday through Friday, on his drive home from work to see how she is doing.  The last year or so the calls have been a challenge because her hearing is very poor, so he spends a lot of the conversation repeating himself in an amplified fashion.  She spend a lot of time saying "ok".  

He agreed after talking with her that she did indeed seem a little off, maybe a bit more confused than normal, but again, it is hard to assess when she can't participate in typical conversations due to hearing loss. Which if you asked her, she does not suffer from. 

Within days of my brother calling me, a family friend stopped by and indicated that now there was something significantly "off" with Nan.  She was trying to use her phone as a tv remote, her words were a bit slurred and her medications were spread out around the house. 

 The ambulance was called and she was admitted to the hospital.  She was very confused.  Dehydrated and had an infection of which the source could not be tracked.  

Over the years Nan has had some falls, and broken her collar bone and banged herself up significantly, but always rebounded to the appropriate levels for her age, to continue her independent living.  

After the fall that caused her to break her collar bone, the Prince went to PA, as she was being released from a stay in rehab, to outfit her apartment with all the safety features that the case worker recommended so that she would not have trip hazards etc.  
Boy was she mad about loosing her throw rugs and that blue chair... 

Throughout her current time in the hospital, they treated her infection, and worked with her on her strength and mobility.  This time she was not rebounding so quickly.  She was still a good bit confused, and was not able to get her strength back to sustain her own weight.  

She was released to the rehab facility, a local nursing home.  Her progress was updated many times a day in direct communication between the Prince and her nurses.   We were told that they would be running tests and taking her to physical therapy. 

However, before the New Year, it was determined that she is unlikely to make any more progress and was being discharged from physical therapy (rehab) care.  

What does that mean?  We are 1100 miles away.  She can not live alone, but what do we know, since we have been saying that for years!  There is not a suitable option for her there of someone that she can live with, nursing home care/assisted living is financially not possible for her on her deceased husbands railroad pension, and what do we know about in home care?  

Off flies the Prince the day after New Years, with a one way ticket, and a ton of questions that have no suitable answers.  Upon being told of her pending discharge, he has been working on a mountain of paper work to attempt to get financial medical assistance so that she can continue to stay in the nursing home. He began to investigate in home care providers, and we began considering the pros and cons of just packing her up and moving her to Florida. 

Oh wait, but those of you who know Nan know, she does not want to stay in the nursing home, she just wants to go home to her apartment, and Florida would not be suitable because in her words it is "too cold here"!!  

We began praying about what the Lord would want us to do.  How can we make her comfortable, yet safe, and help her see her need for much more assistance in life than she is accustomed to, or that she thinks she needs.  

The Prince has been gathering paperwork, he has been working diligently to advocate for his grandmother, and even was considering discharging her, taking her home and monitoring her on his own over the next several days to see what her true functions were limited to.  To assess the situation and see if in home care would suffice.   

I think he and I both knew however that if Nan was discharged from care, which the doctors are clearly at this point discouraging, then she would end up coming to live with us.  Not to mention that she would be forfeiting her "spot" or bed in the nursing home.  To say the Prince has been struggling with major care decisions for Nan would be an understatement.  

Yesterday he had a meeting.  The meeting went well and the Prince got a lot of answers that he needed including but not limited to the fact that it seems like Nan will be able to stay on at the nursing home, as a resident as they are not seeing any reason for her medical assistance request to be denied.  

A collect of sigh could be felt, as that news makes it easier for all of that know and love her to relax knowing that she will be well cared for and in a safe place.  As you know - she is a spunky one, and even while in care at the rehab, told that she may not get up on her own, she had to try.  Of course the result was a fall, which only surprised her, not her care givers, but was a much needed consequence to make her understand that she is not as well as she thinks she is.  

So we immediately started praying that the Prince could persuade her, explain to her, why she needs to stay in the care of the nursing home.  That she would not be adamant about returning home to her apartment.  You all that know Nan, know when she gets something in her head, boy she won't let it go!  

Last night when I talked to the Prince he shared with me that she knows she is not ready to go to her apartment yet, and has agreed to stay in the nursing home.  "Until she gets better"... 

Asking for prayer the next couple days for the Prince as he navigates and plans for her care in the nursing home, figures out how long we should/can hold her apartment,  as he pays her bills, plans the mail for, gathers documents that we need here to make decisions for her while she is in care, and makes his plans for a return trip home.

Most importantly, please pray for Nan.  She is one of a kind.  She has seen more life than many.  She has buried two husbands and both her children.  Many of her life long friends have already passed from this earth.  Since I met her over 30 years ago, she has been ready to go home and be with Jesus.   
Which I will not lie, used to sort of freak me out.   All departure greetings went something like this, " "See you Tuesday honey, unless the good Lord takes me home."  Along with countless conversations in her older years about being tired, and just wanting to die at home, and meet Jesus.  

Now that I am older, I get it.  Now that some of those around me that I have loved, have passed away, I understand the void left behind and how much you miss them.  I see that it is her faith in the Lord and her hope of eternity spent with her husbands and boys and all those dear to her that have gone on ahead of her that fuels her hearts desire to be with Jesus.  

But today is not the day.  God still has her here with us!  In this time, it is our desire to love her and honor her, and help her transition into this "not so independent living" time of life.  

As soon as we have detailed information I will share it with you, who also know and love her, so that you can encourage her too.  Not that you need ideas, but ....

If you are local and can find 30 minutes to pop over and say hello, she would be thrilled for the company, as one of her laments once she had to give up driving, was no one comes to visit.  
(Which again, if you know Nan, and have ever tried to stop in for a visit, there is a 50/50 chance she would be out and about!) 

If you are not comfortable with the face to face of visiting elderly in a nursing home, send a card. Make a phone call (but be prepared to repeat yourself, loudly) 

If none of those options are ideal for you, then join us as we pray for her.  For the Lord, who loves her more than we do, to allow her comfort and peace and grace in her new situation.  

As she works on "getting better" so that she can go home... 

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