Maybe I should not be writing this essay. Maybe third time will be “charmed!” My first essay about assisted living was from the point of view of the sequence of facilities Pete has been in. That is, after his stroke/fall, he was in rehab, home, in assisted living in Hammond, in skilled nursing, in assisted living in Denver, and in another assisted living in Denver. Such an essay did cover this past year, but it did not have a place for details.
Thus, I wrote a second version!
The second version discussed just the assisted living facility we are in now. I liked that better, and I was really content with the resulting essay. So, I “saved” the second version. At the same time, I deleted parts of the first version that were still in the essay. You can guess the result: the poor little program could not decide what to do…and did nothing…and I lost my second version!!!
So…third time is charmed!!!
Now, what does our assisted living look like? In general, assisted living implies an apartment consisting of bedroom, living room and bathroom. The bedroom might be part of the living room. Our apartment consists of two bedrooms, a separate living room, and a bathroom. The living room has a nice high ceiling. I am thinking that we will probably be here 4-5 years…and I do not want to feel closed-in sometime in the future…and I do not want to move again. A kitchen sink and a relatively large refrigerator are in the living room space. The living room holds two recliner chairs, the television, two desks, and a table and two chairs…and my small 2-shelf piece of furniture that holds my buffalo collection…my only piece of furniture from both of the houses!
Assisted living also implies that some services are available. Our facility takes care of administering Pete’s medicines.* Three meals a day are provided for both of us. Aides come in around 6:30 to 7:00 in the morning to wake Pete and dress him for the day. Three to four times a week, he is given a shower.* The aides take him to breakfast.* He and I do lunch and dinner together. The aides get him ready for his naps and for the night. Weekly, all of his clothes and my clothes are washed, dried, folded, and put in their place in the apartment. The apartment is cleaned weekly. Cable TV and WiFi are provided.
There are also activities in which the residents can participate. A selection of activities available here includes off-site walks, gardening club, trips to the grocery store (three times a month), trips to Wal-Mart (once a month), Tai Chi, Cheese and Wine Social (Fridays, 3:00 PM to about 4:30 PM), craft projects, off-site trips (museum, local restaurants, scenic sites), lectures and movies. It took me about two months to select playing bridge and the book club. I was just not use to choosing something to fill my time—and it was difficult accepting a mind-set that this was my neighborhood. There is an indoor exercise center with a treadmill and bicycling machines — available to all physically appropriate residents.
When assisted living is discussed, the conversation usually centers on services and activities. All other things being relatively equal, it is the staff that makes all the difference. It is the staff that gives that shower when the resident needs it; it is the staff that brings a food tray to the room when a resident does not feel well enough to get out of bed; it is the staff that takes your wash twice a week because almost all of your clothes are soiled; it is the staff that gives you a hug when you need it. As we were putting our Louisiana home on the market … with the lake home already sold … I commented that now all we have is a 2-bedroom apartment. Ida, one of the aides here, immediately added, “,,, and you have all of us.
* Services denoted by a * are a la carte.