So, my 98-year-old grandmother is visiting me this week. In a bit of serendipity I was able to convince her to come visit me here in SC for a week. My uncle brought her down this past Friday and since then we’ve been having a ball.
Once my uncle left on Saturday morning to drive back home, I took GGma (short for great-grandmother since that’s what my kids call her) out for a ride. She took a liking to what she saw – the cute, smaller, older homes; the lack of heavy traffic (compared to Winchester, which is twice the size of Fort Mill); the plethora of small churches (mostly Presbyterian, which seems weird – did they settle in this town? Why does there seem to be one on every other block?). She also liked our public library, and (the biggest surprise) our church on Sunday (I think she liked it because it was super loud and she could hear everything clearly).
But the big test came on Monday, when Denis and I had to report to work and the kids had to report to their summer day program. I had signed up GGma to participate in an adult day program in our county. I had no idea what to expect, and I could tell she was very nervous as I said goodbye to her with assurances that I’d be back in the afternoon to pick her up.
Well, upon picking her up she assured me that she really liked the place. She had next to no complaints! She loved the nurses (especially the one that lead the games and activities throughout the day). She thought the food was great (and liked the fact that it was served already cut so that she could just enjoy it rather than struggle to cut it with her cast (she fell and broke her wrist a couple days after my visit in May)). She met a few nice people that made her feel welcome. And she enjoyed the activities that were throughout the day. Her only complaint was that most of the “residents” seemed to leave around 3 p.m., so she got bored.
So this morning I took her back, and rather than be nervous she walked in like she owned the place. She went to “her” chair, got her book out, and settled in for the day. I told the nurse that GGma loves watching “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons” in the afternoons, and she assured me she’d try and find it on their TV. Alas, upon picking her up this evening GGma told me they couldn’t find the channel, but that was okay because people didn’t leave as early today as they did yesterday. And, in her words, “I enjoyed it much better today than I did yesterday.” She commented again on how nice everyone was, how good the food was, and how much she liked the nurses.
I’d say it’s a success! So tomorrow I’m taking the whole day off from work and plan on taking her to my office so she can meet my co-workers. I also hope that we can beat the bad weather and head over to the pool. Back in the day she loved to swim and even if she only gets in enough to sit on the steps (she can’t get her arm wet because of her cast), I think she’d like it.
As for the daily care, it has been relatively easy. I was told that she was very incontinent, but I didn’t see evidence of that in May, nor has that been the case here. Since her arrival on Friday she hasn’t had a single accident, and her bed has been dry every morning. With the cast on her arm I need to help her with buttons and clasps, but it’s not that big a deal and only takes a few moments to help her change clothes.
Her one issue of stubbornness has been about using a cane. She refuses to use a walker, and I have told her that in my house and when out and about, she HAS to use the cane. No ifs ands or buts. The first day she repeatedly kept “forgetting” it, but we’re now on Day Four and tonight when leaving for her hair appointment she asked for it so she could head out to the car. She still uses my arm when getting out of the car or up out of the chair, but other than that, she’s now faithfully using the cane, which is huge. I’m hoping by week’s end it’ll be a habit she won’t drop.
As for the future, who knows what will happen? I still think that Fort Mill is where she needs to be, but her lease runs through February. Add in our home addition project (which HOPEFULLY will start soon), and there’s no way she can live here in that chaotic atmosphere. But if she can make it for a few months more, then I’d be happy to have her move in with me. The day center is *not* cost-prohibitive for her and covers all food, activities (including field trips) and basic nursing care. And I don’t mind taking care of her – she’s getting what she needs, which is enough help that she’s safe, but not so much that she feels dependent and useless. Her independence is VERY important to her. So is socialization – as evidenced by how chipper she has been the past two days after being at that day center. She just hasn’t been getting enough of that in Virginia since her move in February, although she HAS finally met a few of her neighbors, a few of which are interested in possibly playing bridge with her.
Either way, it has been fantastic having her here. The kids are getting a rare experience – quality time with a great-grandparent who is not sickly, who is just as feisty as they are, and who loves to tease them (today she deliberately stood in front of the TV and danced for them so they couldn’t watch “Spongebob”).
On Sunday I’ll make the trek up north – I’m meeting up with my aunt at the halfway point and she will take GGma the rest of the way to her house. I’ll be curious to know what GGma tells my aunt about the week. She may just be snowing me in order not to hurt my feelings. Although if she is, she’s a good faker. Because she seems to be having a blast.