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Posts Tagged ‘assisted living’

Yesterday I had to bite the bullet, I buzzed Bob’s head! He bought this Norelco hair trimmer weeks ago and I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t have to use it, but after watching a few YouTube videos I mustered my courage. He sat outside in the garden with a dish towel over his shoulders and I got to work. The buzzer had 100 attachments but I only used 4; one for the back, one for the top, two for around the ears and a small trimmer. It wasn’t so bad and I only left one small lightning stripe over an ear.

A runner cruised by and asked if he could be next!

But my next step was starting dinner. I defrosted some pork chops and began assembling the ingredients for rice and beans – shallots, garlic, rice, fire roasted tomatoes, and black beans. My chopping block now stands next to the sink, since my kitchen island has turned into a cutting table for our mask making endeavor. We have already made dozens of masks from donated material and tee shirts.

This week we delivered five masks to Great Grandma Ada and Hudson so that they could supply their friends. The routine so far is that we knock on the locked door and the receptionist opens it to exchange our bag of masks for their drugs. Then we sit in the vestibule and while Bob sorts their medications I talk on the phone, through the window, to Ada. But our last visit didn’t work so well.

First of all, the vestibule is a mini-Grand Central Station. Aides, physical therapists, private aides, and kitchen workers pass through every few minutes and every single one of them must stop… and knock… and have their temperature taken at the door. In the vestibule. One time a maintenance guy came in and started rolling up the carpet under our feet.

But the last time it was a piece of pecan pie that created the log jam. While one son (Bob), a doctor sorting his parents’ meds was sitting behind a table, another son came into the vestibule with his wife to deliver a piece of pie to his mother. And while one private duty aide was leaving and the receptionist had the door open, all four people, within arm’s length of each other, started into talking about pie. Granted they all had masks on, still it was getting crowded in there.

And although I found this conversation interesting, Bob was less than pleased, so he said, “Would you mind taking your conversation about pie outside?”

You would have thought he asked them to practice social distancing or something. In retrospect, I can tell when Bob switches into doctor mode where compliance is a given. It seems that everybody is a bit on edge these days, and long term care facilities are getting their fair share of bad coronavirus news. So the pecan pie fuse was lit, and the aide had a bit of a temper tantrum walking around outside, telling people that guy, my guy, doesn’t own the air. Calling him names while the receptionist disappeared and the couple stormed off to call in a complaint.

And it would have been comical if this wasn’t a life and death situation. I might have chalked it up to a misunderstanding over the Mason-Dixon line; we Yanks aren’t great at small talk, we get right to the point. But since Bob is also a caregiver, besides being family, going forward this “vestibule” arrangement isn’t sustainable. This semi-lockdown was the facility’s idea; aides go in and out of Ada and Hudson’s apartment all the time, to empty the garbage and deliver meals, and they only recently started wearing masks.

According to the CDC 20% of healthcare workers are infected with the virus, but they didn’t count long term care or nursing homes:

“The CDC’s report indicated most of the cases were white women in their 40s, according to The Washington Post.

Women made up the vast majority of cases at 73%, according to The Hill. Many of the infected professionals — about 38% — had underlying health conditions, and most of those who died from COVID-19 were 65 years or older, The Hill reported.

The report likely under counts the number of cases among medical professionals because of a lack of testing in a given region, The Post reported. There are also a number of institutions that are not testing health care workers in order to reserve tests for patients, according to The Post.”  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/coronavirus/article242019511.html

Instead of buzzing around like bees over gossip and horrible ravings about drinking or injecting disinfectant to kill the virus, let’s give ourselves a break and try listening to scientists. Here is a great article about two countries that are doing just that! https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/24/world/australia/new-zealand-coronavirus.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

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We are all figuring out ways to come together while apart.

Bob and I shared cocktail hour one night in a parking lot with neighbors. Some of us sat on tailgates and some got comfy on camp chairs. While keeping the appropriate distance, we got caught up on local gossip – the last time we’d seen each other we were cleaning up the streets after our Tornado.

I like to capitalize Tornado because it seems weighty, and it was my first time cheating death by Mother Nature. And we cannot forget Nashville was already reeling, before our “Stay at Home” order; some of us had no roof, or a home for shelter.

Yesterday we ordered cupcakes from our local bakery, The Cupcake Collection. Mignon is offering curbside delivery! https://www.thecupcakecollection.com/  They had just started up their business again, after losing a good portion of their historic house to record-setting winds last month. I remember the Bride’s Italian Nanny, Giovanna, loved red velvet cupcakes. But we were hoping to celebrate Great Grandpa Hudson’s 94th birthday with some sweet potato cupcakes.

Hudson was a redhead when he was young. He lied about his age to enlist in WWII and served on a ship in the Pacific Theatre. He is the only grandfather my children have ever known since my father died when I was a baby, and Bob’s father, well, he was of no use. My children never met him.

Hudson still serves as Ada’s co-star in Nashville. But when we would visit them in NJ, he was always the fix-it guy, having actually built a hospital in Ghana once upon a time when he was a missionary. He carved gigantic totem poles, fixed furniture, the pool every spring, and any plumbing or roofing problems that might pop up. He was the husband/handyman every woman ever wanted. Over the years, he’d officiate at more weddings than I can count, including the Bride and Groom’s.

We sang the Happy Birthday song to Hudson through a glass window in the vestibule of their assisted living facility. I’m not really sure if he could hear us. Only aides are allowed in and out, but we could talk with Ada through our cell phones. Her spirit is incredible, this virus cannot diminish that resilient light. “How are my babies?” she asked me. So I told her how the Bride is home-schooling, that she has enough PPE for now, and about Dolly Parton’s gift to Vanderbilt. Dolly for President!

She said she likes my red hair, and I told her it was pink leaning toward fuchsia. Leave it to me to decide to color my hair when I won’t be able to see my stylist for awhile.

Bob and I have figured out how to use Zoom, it’s actually pretty easy. I can still take a group Pilates class once a week through my iPad. I only need a yoga mat and a foam roller. I almost don’t recognize myself in that gallery window box – who is that purple headed lady?

Some of you know that I’ve often felt like a character in an Anne Tyler novel, going about her day to day existence, seemingly normal, while balancing an out-of-control inner life. Maybe most writers live in the subtext? It’s certainly helpful right now – in this out-of-control outer life – to stay in the moment, so I thought I’d recommend Tyler’s newest book to you, since we all have a lot of time on our hands. Why not call up your local bookstore?

Her new novel is “Redhead by the Side of the Road.” It’s about second chances, it’s funny and compassionate at the same time. You might want to eat a cupcake while you read it! https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-520904645953AE18-6DD5-4CA6-93ED-99E3EFF69A4C

 

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We will be finishing our unfinished basement in a few weeks, so it’s time to pick a paint color. Last time I picked a color it was Navajo White, remember that from the 90s! Since warmer off-whites are out, and cooler off-whites are in, I’m looking for a pale bluish/grey color at the Benjamin Moore store. Should I stick with pale Moonlight White, or go more saturated with Edgecomb Gray, Silver Gray, or Gray Owl? Wait, what about Beach Glass, I love that name! http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/color-gallery#&ce_vm=0

This is where my horoscope shines through all my disbelief about horoscopes. I’m a Libra, so the scales of justice are blind and I can take weeks weighing and balancing a simple choice like the basement’s new, hip wall color. Funny, cause I can walk into the shoe department at Nordstrom and hear one shoe calling my name.

But the new grey also pertains to my generation. My last blog post on Facebook garnered lots of comments about Bob’s retirement plans; the idea of combining co-housing with sustainable senior living. Friends from his old “hippie house” at Duke, friends who actually did join communes in the 60s, and relatives who lived and worked on a kibbutz all chimed in. My friend Edie from high school told me about this guy, a mere 29 years old, who was  featured on the Today Show – Willie Geist called him a “Disrupter.”

Ash Jacob developed an App for Aging in Place! “With 10,000 people retiring every day in the United States, 29-year-old Ash Jacob is using iPads and other technologies to change the senior care industry.” http://www.today.com/news/29-year-old-uses-technology-turn-senior-care-industry-its-t94056

While watching the video, I was aware that the 90+ year old client had a rep from the App company there, and on the other side of the client sat the actual aide who assists with daily tasks. So what Jacob did was put an iPad in every home to let the family stay informed…when did she eat lunch, what did they talk about…seems counter-intuitive to me. Although it does solve the problem of driving to doctor appointments and coordinating medication, the things a family member might do if they lived in the neighborhood.

Which begs the question for aging silver foxes like us, just HOW do we want to age?

No use fighting it with creams and potions, it’s a fact of life. Would you rather stay in your home with an aide doing daily chores and an iPad to communicate or alleviate guilt?  Or would you rather live in a community with like-minded people, a new tribe so to speak, and share the resources. You know Bonnie cooks for four households, Ronnie mows the lawn, Nurse Johnny drops in as needed? There would be a van driver, say Moishe, who would drive you to the symphony or the latest climate change protest, or the doctor, or the unveiling. Otherwise you could walk most places, or scoot around on a scooter.

You could participate as little or as much as you like – not a vegan? Start a chili cook-off! Yes, there are big places like this already, The Villages in FL and right here in VA we have Westminster Canterbury (WC) http://westminstercanterbury.org  But you’ve got to buy into places like this, so if you’ve got the money, no problem. Once you walk in, you can move between more or less care needed for the rest of your life! Sigh. It’s the totem pole of life and death – independent living, to assisted, nursing and or memory care, and out the door. This is from WC’s website:

Learning is revered among our residents. Opportunities are abundant for continued education. Developed in association with the University of Virginia, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) conducts university-level classes for older adults. Many classes are held at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge. You might even find your neighbor as one of the instructors. At Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, there is plenty to do, and every day is different. While one day may take you outside of the community to experience lifelong learning, the next day you may choose to:

Walk the Nature Trail, featuring a stocked pond, gazebo, and walking path in a 17-acre protected habitat.
Play a friendly game of pool in the Billiard Room.
Create a stunning arrangement in the Flower Room.

As Ada would say, “You get the picture.” As Sue might have said, “Probably lots of Bunnys in that place.”

But Bob was thinking more of Summer Camp for Seniors, or a Post-Modern Woodstock.  Think of co-operative gardens. A small boutique operation, non-profit, come as you are kind of place, no ‘dressing for dinner,’ near a beach town, with a hot tub. Where everybody has a front porch. Maybe a retrofitted motel or hotel? A bungalow colony?

For me, I’d rather not live an isolated life, connecting with family via App. I’d like to learn how to play Mah-Jong. I’d like to be able to swim in a pool, or the ocean, and take cooking classes, walk my dog, and knit and string beads. And write and travel with Bob some, and make new friends. Maybe still try and make a difference in the world, if that’s not too corny anymore. I want to be near my grands most importantly of all. I don’t want to be an after-thought to them; they will really, really need us in those pre-teenage wonder years. Once they get a license, it’s all over!

I’ve let my strawberry blonde hair turn a golden grey, not a dictionary definition of the color, “…dark, dismal, or gloomy; gray skies; dull, dreary, or monotonous.” No! Grey is the new Platinum, Titanium and Gold. We are all made of fine metal. And 10,000 of us every day are redefining what retirement looks like. Here is my silver fox, who was and is always a disrupter, in his happy place.  IMG_3261

 

 

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