Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Change of Scenery

Today I took (most of) the day "off" from Atria and went with Walt to have lunch with Char at the new place where she lives.  Of course it's also a senior living place, so we were once again surrounded by grey hair, canes, and walkers, though people here seem to be "fitter" and younger than at Atria, so it was a different vibe.

On the way, we stopped at Atria to deliver my mother's pain medication for the day.  She was very bad, saying she hurt so much she couldn't walk.  It was hard to leave her, but I knew from my day with her on Sunday that there was nothing I could do and I really wanted to see Char's new place.  I gave her the pill and hoped it would help.

It's about an hour and a half to Pleasanton, which gave us a chance to finally finish the book we've been listening to for months, "Transfer of Power" by Vince Flynn.  We only listen to it in the car and we hadn't gone anywhere in a long time (I had hoped to finish it on the way to the wedding reception).  Such a good, gripping book.  If you are into that kid of story, I recommend it highly.  Such a shame Flynn died so young (mid-40s).

We started listening to Dustin Hoffman reading "Being There," which I am enjoying.
Char met us at the clubhouse and when I walked in, I felt like I was walking into one of the fancier 5-star hotels where we have stayed on Viking Cruises.  How impressive!

We went straight to the dining room, which was huge, with a skylight over most of it to make it very bright and a window wall looking out onto a grassy area with a beautiful gazebo and wandering stream over which were little bridges.

Lunch was good too.  Walt had steak, perfectly cooked.  I had a fancy tuna sandwich, perhaps better than I've ever had (in Parmesan bread with tomatoes and avocado--the tuna was almost superfluous).  The blueberry crumble dessert was probably better than anything I've ever had at Atria.

After lunch we went through the garden area, over the bridge (looking at the koi who immediately swam over and started begging for food) and through some of the outbuildings like the one for the huge swimming pool.

(Char tells me that the sign is required on all swimming pools these days...I'd never seen it)

Her apartment is on the 3rd floor with a  beautiful view of Mount Diablo, which will probably disappear when the new building, currently under construction, is finished.

We had a nice visit, but had to leave early to get back to Atria for a meeting with Melissa, the patient services coordinator, to discuss the next day's visit by the long term care nurse, to assess my mother's approval for a claim against the policy for which she has been paying >$3000 a year for decades.

First we went to give her the evening pain pill.  She was still in pain but her mood was significantly better.  I remembered when my friend Phil Dethlefsen, who was on all sorts of pain meds, told me that they didn't take the pain away, but they just made him care less.  When the woman who has been checking on her for meals came, she was delightful toward her, and happily went off to the dining room without even worrying about leaving Walt and me behind.

After we left the apartment, we went to Melissa's office and discussed her "action plan."  As of today they will take over giving her the meds, which takes a huge load off my mind.  We also decided to put her on "escort" services to take her to meals.  She seems to enjoy the camaraderie of the caregivers and has no problem going with them to meals.  This may eventually increase her involvement with Atria, but I won't hold my breath.

I had to sign forms for my mother as her power of attorney and I have to admit it felt like putting her in the home.  Nothing really changes except Atria will have more involvement with her (and it will cost ~$800 more a month), but still it felt disloyal doing this without her knowledge, though she always seems OK with whatever I suggest.  Still, it was harder on me than I expected and I cried to Walt when we got home that it was "tearing me apart"

In fact, I couldn't eat, and fell asleep watching TV, and slept all night after James Corden woke me up and I staggered to the couch to finish the night.

All things considered, though, in the cold rainy light of day I am relieved to know that they will be keeping an eye on her, that she will get her meds regularly, and that she may not eat more than cookies at lunch and dinner. I won't feel quite so guilty on days I don't go to Atria.

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