Monday, 13 August 2007

The Last Step

Our elderly friend has been moved into the residential home a month earlier than planned, thereby completely throwing him. We got wind that this might happen last week, so I rang him to find out. The poor fellow was so confused and disorientated he couldn’t make any sense and passed me onto the daughter (thinking it was his wife, who died 15 years ago).
The daughter said, ‘Oh, he’s been falling every day, so I had to do something.’
I pointed out that he’d been falling every day for the past two years.
She didn’t reply but said that he was moving into the home the following day.
‘Just as well I rang, then,’ I replied. Very pointedly.
She spluttered a bit at that, but said that she’d ‘had to put her foot down,’ before adding hastily,‘but of course it was entirely his decision.’
Really?

Anyway, he’s there now and at least he’s safe and well looked after, but we got back from the carnival on Saturday night to find an incoherent message on our answerphone. As there wasn’t any point in talking to James, we rang the home back and left a message saying that we’d call again. He rang on Sunday morning at 8am wanting to know if we could come and see him.

We arrived at the home later that morning with some trepidation. The manager met us and said that James was sleeping well which is usually a good sign, but when we got there he was very agitated because his daughter had brought a whole load of files of bank statements when in fact she’s taking all that over now. It took 3 of us an hour and a half to persuade him that the daughter should take them back, so I hope she does.

On the bright side, he has a lovely sunny room overlooking fields with cows and a stream, and it’s very peaceful and rural. If you’ve got to go somewhere, this place has a friendly atmosphere and the people seem content and well cared for.

James was like a little boy in many ways, clinging and confused.
‘Will you come down – er – down?’ he said, getting into even more of a knot.
We realised he wanted us to wait and walk him downstairs to the dining room for lunch so we did, only to find we were half an hour early.

The staff were lovely and kind and escorted us all to the lounge where the residents sat in high backed armchairs, waiting. And waiting. I gulped and wanted to grab him and bring him back here (though in a one bedroom flat this is somewhat impractical). So I gave him a big hug and, feeling like traitors, we left.

He’s lost his confidence, you see, because he finds it so difficult to speak. ‘But James, there must be other people who find it difficult talking as well,’ I said. ‘And you can talk to us.’

‘Yes, but you’re friends. And I’ve known you for a long time,’ he said.

And he looked at me with such trust, I felt honoured to be his friend.

9 comments:

Rebecca Taunton said...

It sounds like it's as good a home as any FP, and at least now he'll be well cared for. His daughter sounds rather thoughtless though.

RT

Dee said...

You're good friends - not traitors - I'm sure he knows that. Hopefully he'll be cared for well and settle in well too. It's not nice when people get old in the first place, let alone have to move to a residential home :(

Flowerpot said...

RT - yes, we took him to see the home back in the winter, and it does seem good as they go. I'd actually like to know his daughter's side of things. It cant be as we see it - surely?

Flowerpot said...

Dee - no, I don't think he thinks we're traitors, but it still made me feel terrible. I only hope he does settle in OK. It's early days yet...

The Rotten Correspondent said...

And I bet you cried most of the way home, didn't you? You aren't traitors, just the opposite. You're good friends with his best interests at heart. It's just a really shitty adjustment period moving into assisted living facilities when one is so used to being independent.

You're doing all you can - and then some. Stop beating yourself up.

Flowerpot said...

correspondent - thanks for your commiserations. I'm not beating myself up, just very sad for him. I wish he had more support from his family.

Graham & Prince said...

He's very lucky to have friends like you....

Miss Understood said...

It's such a very sad situation...I'm just so glad he has friends in you both.

I realy don't like the sound of his daughter though.

Flowerpot said...

graham, prince & tilly - As I said to James, this is what friends are for. Particularly when his family isn't.

MissU - yes, we all share your thoughts about the daughter. Not Good. And his other daughter never sees him at all other than once a year, at Christmas. What the hell happened? He's such a lovely man.