Friday, April 8, 2011

Back from Virginia

This has been quite a week.  I had scheduled a visit to Virginia, to see my Aunt, pictured above a few years ago when she was still in independent living at the continuing care facility where she has lived for many years. She had moved to the assisted living section a couple of years ago.  I take care of her, as she had no children of her own.

When I got there, I could see that she had deteriorated significantly from the last time I had visited.  After a little visit, I went to talk to the head nurse.  She told me that she was very glad to see me, that they had intended to call me next week.  They told me that she could no longer function in assisted living and that they felt that she should move to the Nursing Center.  She was no longer eating on her own, was not capable of taking care of her personal needs and she was sundowning, which means that, as night falls she undergoes a personality change and becomes increasingly fearful and paranoid.

I agreed, and we discussed the whens and wheres.  It was decided to move her right away.  That meant that, the next day, we had to completely clean out her room in assisted living and move her clothes, and what furnishings that would fit, into her new room in the Nursing Center, one floor down.  It was quite a job, as her room in assisted living was jam packed with her "stuff" and there wasn't nearly as much space in her new room.

Luckily (or not, for her), my very good friend had ridden down with me, just to keep me company on the long drive.  She helped me with the move, and we got everything done in one day.  It was a real job, not only moving, but deciding what furniture and clothing would go to the facilities' second hand shop, and what of her furniture would go into storage, with the rest of her stuff that was already there.

It took us that entire day, of solid work, to get her situated, and we were both pooped by the end of the day.  We made sure she would be settled in her room after the mandatory chest x-ray, and headed back to where we were staying.  We got a good night's sleep, and headed back, yesterday, for home.  It's an eight or nine hour drive and we weren't fully recovered from the day before, so by the time we got home last night, we were exhausted again.

I plan to do absolutely nothing today but go to the grocery, and take a nice long nap.

Emotionally, I'm a little shell-shocked.  It all happened so fast, and while she is 91 and things like this are to be expected, it was very hard to have it descend so quickly.  She has been like a second Mom to me for my entire life and is the last living member of that generation, on both sides of the family.  It is going to be very hard to lose her.

The next job, which will happen in a couple of months, will be having an estate sale of the "good stuff" that she insisted be moved into storage when she moved to assisted living.  Now that she has deteriorated to the point where she no longer remembers it, we can move it along.

I often think that it isn't fair that people who have lived such good lives have to spend their last years in such a continuing state of decline.

I'll try and catch up on your blogs in the next day or so.

23 comments:

Janet said...

My heart goes out to you Louise- but you have done all you could- must be reassuring to know she will get that extra care needed now and she will feel safer and happier.

Tina said...

Oh Louise, sorry to hear that you had such a rough and draining week. It's so hard to see the people we love dwindle like that.I hope she settles in ok and will feel much safer there. It's not just hard on us but hard on them too. Good thoughts going your way...Hugs, Tina

Tammy said...

My heart also goes out to you and your aunt. It's very very hard. My Grandma went through the same thing as well as an aunt. It was hard to see these busy, busy productive women gradually fade away (mentally and physically). Take care and try and focus on the good parts (and maybe steal a kitty snuggle or two)!
Tammy

Samantha said...

Oh Louise..I'm so sorry. My heart goes out to you.
You're captured exactly what I feel about mental decline. It's just so unfair.
Thank you, though, for bringing up all the good memories I have of my Gram. Alzheimer's took time away from us, but we had so many years of good things.

texwisgirl said...

Oh truly. I'm so sorry. I'm glad you were able to keep her in the same facility rather than transfer her altogether to a new place. I hope they will take good care of her (as it sounds like they have been). :(

Woodswalker said...

Bless you, Louise, for the loving care you provide to your aunt.

Jim said...

Hi Louise. I hope you are more rested now. It is so important for people like your aunt to 'know' that they have someone there who cares for the......even if they don't seem to be aware of it or can mention it.
Believe it or not, which I think you may, this is also so good for you as a care-giver. You will not regret any of this.
I just hope that someone will be 'around' for us!

Ann Nichols said...

It is so very hard... I know my mother-in-law is 99 this year. She is "with us" some of the time and with those of 85 years earlier the rest of the time. But... she is happy. And that is the most important thing. And she still gives us so much joy and laughter whether with us or with her childhood family.
Bless you for looking after your aunt... and doing all you can to make these years the best they can be. This is all known as...life. And it is good.
Blessings,
Ann

Canyon Girl said...

I thought that's where you may have gone -- I missed you. I know it must have been difficult for you to see your aunt decline so fast. She looks lovely in the photo, so kind. We have to go through so much in life, don't we? Take good care of you now and get some good rest.--Inger

Madi and Mom said...

God Bless you Louise for being such a loving niece and your friend for being so helpful.
We will keep you all in our prayers over the next months....
We hope you are rested up today.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Lori Skoog said...

Quality of life...it makes me wonder what we all have to look forward to. Scary. It's good that you were there for your aunt.

Judith said...

Oh Louise, my heart goes out to you too. It sounds as though she is in a well run place and thank goodness she didn't have to be shifted to an entirely new place.

I often think the same as you, it's not fair that our final years can be a long-drawn out dependent decline.

I hope you've had a good rest after your long drive. I'm glad you had a friend with - that makes it easier.

Sandra said...

My heart goes out to you, Louise, as well. I am sorry you have to go through this heartache - you are right: it is so unfair that people who lead good lives spend their last years or months in pain or in decline. She is lucky to have you, as you are lucky to have her.
{{{Hugs}}}

Sheri said...

Louise, glad you made the long drive safely and had a friend for support. We've been through similar experiences with parents in the last few years. It's very sad to see loved ones decline, just a shadow of their former selves.

KB said...

Louise, You are a good niece and a good person. It sounds like you had an emotionally and physically very tough trip. My heart goes out to you and your aunt. We went through similar events with my MIL just two years ago, and I remember how heart-wrenching it was.

I'm thinking of you. Enjoy that good long nap...

foundationmare said...

Aww Louise....bless your heart for being such a good niece and loving friend to your beloved aunt. She is so lucky to have you in her corner, something that so many oldsters don't have.

Have a good nap and take it easy for the weekend, although I suspect that the temps predicted may draw you out to do some exploring!

Terry said...

Oh Louise! I'm so sorry. Hugs to you, friend.

Ellen Rathbone said...

What can one say? You are a good person for being there for your aunt. We can all hope to have someone who cares there for us when our times come.

Dreaming said...

I am in total agreement with your last statement. I'd like to think that those who age and decline like that aren't aware of their frailties, but that may not be the case and what a loss of dignity and how awful to have to endure all that. I don't blame you for being exhausted - physically and mentally.

Sharon said...

Hi Louise,

I remember your having talked about your Aunt before. Sorry to hear about her decline, I know that was rough on you. I am glad that you didn't have to take care of all of that alone, or take that long trip alone, it's good to have moral support in times like these.

Catch up on as much rest as you need, that is a lot to go through

{{{HUGS}}}

Rebekah said...

Wow, that was some trip! What a job, plus the emtotional side of it. I'm with you a hundred per cent about it doesn't seem fair. It's scares me.

Good to see you back. I was wondering... :)

Vicki Lane said...

Old age sucks. But how lucky your aunt is to have you.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Sorry about your aunt. I have never heard the term sundowning. Hope she is settled in by now.