It has been difficult deciding answers to questions involving Pete’s care. If you noticed, we went from hospital to rehab, then to home, then to assisted living, then to skilled nursing, then to assisted living (Denver/Lakewood) and then to assisted living again (also Lakewood). When Pete and I were in Louisiana, Lori, Craig, (our daughter and son) and I had conference calls every week … usually Friday evening or Saturday morning. I had found myself trying to argue … with myself … two sides of a question. Know what? It doesn’t work!!! The problem of making decisions is certainly one of the reasons Pete and I moved to Denver.
Let me use a situation from these past few weeks as an example of using the administration of the assisted living complex to help come to a reasonable decision. I would suggest you make sure the administration in the assisted living complex in which you or a loved one is residing … or plan to reside … discusses questions about “what do we do” in this manner.
Pete is built like his father… short, stout, heavy shoulders and body … his father came to the States from Denmark and was very much a Scandinavian. In March of this year, Pete could walk a few steps with a walker. When physical therapy was stopped, Pete began to lose ground and ultimately could barely stand with a walker. Pete also was on a medicine to help him sleep. He became like a zombie and did very little to help the staff get him in and out of bed. Some of the staff suggested that they use a mechanical “lifter” to get Pete in or out of bed.
About a month ago, a mechanical “lifter” was brought into our apartment to see how it would work. I almost screamed. I did not examine the “lifter”… I just reacted. Back in Louisiana one of the homes had used a “lifter” to get Pete into bed …AND IT WAS THE MOST HORRIBLE SIGHT I HAD EVER SEEN. I had to leave his room every time they used it. So here we were with a “lifter” again … and I really did not want it used on Pete. It was, most assuredly, a different “lifter” than they used in Louisiana. And, I along with one of the therapist, was worried that he could lose any strength he had since he would be lifted place to place.*
This is when a discussion with another advocate is so important. Moving to Denver has put Craig, our son, in almost daily contact with Pete and me. And, I value his opinions so much. We approached using the “lifter” as trying to find a way to use the lifter, but still letting Pete be involved in moving bed to chair and back again. The method used could be the choice of the staff person doing the transfer … bed to wheelchair or back. This was not a verbal proclamation of the administration; it developed from leadership from the nursing staff and their willingness to include Craig and me in the discussions. At the direction of the Administration, all of the staff who worked with Pete were given a workshop on how to use the lifter. There was a morning staff workshop and an afternoon staff workshop. I was so proud of the staff …. honestly taking part in the demonstration and asking questions. It was like I had, again a group of teachers in a workshop!!!
So, we now have educated individuals who are able to choose their method of moving Pete … the “lifter” or helping him go bed to chair or back with the strength of his arms and legs … and with the help of the staff, of course. Pete has begun to leave his “zombie” state! It is wonderful to see him standing … with the aid of a walker … as he moves his body onto the bed — or onto his wheelchair. I am so pleased. The lifter is in his room and is available to any staff member. Would your assisted care facility have included you in the discussion? Would your assisted care facility have allowed the staff to use their choice of method of transfer? Or, would they have insisted on “their way” … the lifter? It really makes a difference when your loved one cannot speak for himself or herself. And, when you yourself do not want the lifter to take away any strength still left!!!
* The top picture is of the “lifter.” The grey suit is one of the harnesses used to “lift” Pete from bed to wheelchair or back. The blue harness is made of net and can be used in a shower or such.