Sunday, 19 November 2017

"She is AMAZING!"

This exciting news greeted me Friday night as I came home thru the door from work.
Dear Son. Very excited.
"Okaasan. Today! Rehabili! I took video, I'll show you later...she is amazing!"

My heart sank.....

As we talked about the weekend ahead I mentioned how we must sort out the things necessary for Okaasan's room move. I'd measured the curtains etc And if we were going to do that next Wednesday I needed at least 24 hours notice so I could reschedule one student.

"Ah. Next week might be difficult. I don't know..."
Heart sank a bit further.
Oh God. He'd seen her trolley around at speed. He imagines her coming home. He is doubting the whole care home scenario..oh god.

But he was just prepping dinner, it was Friday night after a longish work week. I was ready to pour a glass of wine, eat tacos and forget about hard things. So I did. Alcohol and food masked the fears.

Saturday morning we returned to the subject of Okaasan.
He showed me his smart phone video of Okaasan in the hospital rehabilitation room.
Walk round the whole room, at speed with a walking frame on roller wheels !!!!!!
Actually followed closely by a staff member, ready to catch her - but still. A big change from a week ago, when she was still walking about 3 m between parallel bars and sitting down for a rest.
There she was trollying around the whole room.
It was amazing.

Short silence.
I bit the elephant in the room.

"It IS amazing. But she still isn't safe to leave alone at home. She can't come home. You know that, don't you? Are you thinking she can come home now?"

"I feel guilty...am I a good son...."

"You ARE a good son. I'm a good daughter-in-law. We've been good for 9 years. Now is the next stage beginning. We can't cope with her at home. Even with 5 days a week day care....she won't be safe. Really. You will be away skiing, I will have to get her ready for day care every morning, she will have to walk down the front door steps in the snow to the car...we can't leave her alone at night....it IS the best thing to do for her. I'm done. I've done the winter care for years. Sorry, I am not doing it again. It isn't safe for her alone here....etc etc etc...etc"

All of it, again.

"I know. I know. She won't be safe here..."

"But you said last night that moving her next week may be ...difficult...do you want to stop the care home plan? Leave her in the hospital more? Will YOU give up this ski season to stay home with her? Will you????"

And on we went....all the cards on the table...all the emotions out...all the fears swirling across our breakfasts.

He explained that:
* he feels guilty
* but he knows she should go to care home
* the "difficult" about next week isn't due to him - but actually due to two more meetings that need to happen from the care home and the hospital. On Monday.
* so it might be another week before we can furnish the room and move her.
* he doesn't plan on giving up a ski season to care for his mum
*  he even showed me the official documents he is preparing for her to move
*  he convinced me that we ARE on the same page about this

And of course what had happened was a confluence of miscommunication: my fears/his elation/his vagueness about next week/my misinterpretation of that/fears/guilt...confusion.

But I tell you. In the midst of that bare-it-all conversation I felt all you dear blog readers with me - all standing on the sidelines cheering me on: "Go Amanda! Go! Stand up for yourself! Don't let your delicious, new-found, winter freedom slip away! Fight!".

And I did. Thankyou.

Turns out my winter freedom wasn't in serious jeopardy. But I was worried there for a few hours...a sickening feeling.

I want it all this coming winter: the skiing, the friends, the movies...and I've even been offered a big tourism writing  job, which I think I will have time for....
And moving the English school in the early spring....that is a big thing to come...

All dependent on Okaasan being safely homed in that nice care home, with twice a week visits from me....

So. Still waiting...wish they'd all get a move on. Before Okaasan starts doing the can-can across the rehabili room and swinging from the rafters.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Waiting

Still waiting for care home action.
The doctor at the hospital has written a report on Okaasan. The care home has received it - now they have to decide whether they will let her in.....
SHOULD be no problem...but....

I mean, she isn't destructive or aggressive as the meds are working. She is just an old lady needing help constantly.

We went to see her on Saturday for about an hour.
When we arrived she was in the day room in her wheelchair with another old lady. Both of them parked in front of the TV happily.

We did the usual: went to the 5th floor lounge for a coffee and a cake snack, then round to the other windows. Mostly silent, but a bit of repeated chat about the main road and the UNIQLO signs, the trees, the weather....she was mentally bright, but repetitive. And copies our gestures - if we talk about our chair design and stroke the arm rest - she does the same to her wheelchair...if I mention my sweater - she fingers with her own sweater.

After an hour of idle chat...and  a diaper change by a nurse - we parked her back in front of the TV and came away.

So. Waiting. Soon....

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Okaasan's Care Home!

Just writing that title makes me happy!!! :-)

Forgive me if I break off every now and then to go do a happy dance....

One stage of Okaasan and Me life is finished, and the next stage is in motion.

Wednesday we went back to the hospital/care home to check out various points, got shown round by 3 staff...bathrooms, rooms, recreation room again, huge confusing discussion about financing (even the people working in welfare in Japan are confused by the government's latest tweaks)...and finally...

We were standing in the recreation room - when Dear Son said to me:
"So? What do you think?"
"About here? It's good. It's got everything. Yes, I think we should choose a room..."

And he agreed. The staff laughed, because it was obvious who wears the pants in decision making in this couple, and we all went back upstairs and looked at the three vacant rooms. Proximity to nurse station, wheelchair toilet, view, light...

And decided on Okaasan's room :-)    :-)

One of the smaller rooms, but big enough for bed and furniture - that we will rent and bring from home. A view of an apartment building, a bit of the city and mountains. Next to the toilet. Within sight of the nurse station.
The atmosphere on a weekday in the whole place was different: residents, families and various care workers around. A gaggle of old ladies watching TV, an old man sorting thru newspapers and more mobile residents taking walks around. It felt all good.
Her floor has about 15 rooms, a lounge with TV etc where that floor residents eat together. Lots of toilets, bathrooms. Downstairs is the recreation room with exercise machines and a central table where handicrafts etc take place.

It's not Florida. No garden. Just a nicely decorated tower block in the city center. But it is light and clean. I hope Okaasan will settle into life there - her own room with things around her, the lounge with the TV and outings with us locally.
He chose downtown because it will be easy for him to go before or after work in summer. In winter I can get there on Tuesdays after work, and by car at other times. There is a hospital in the building if she needs help in any way.

After the room was chosen we went downstairs again and he filled out the application forms. He looked knackered after it all. I was doing happy dances in my brain - finally!! Finally! - but we quietly went out separate ways to work. Had a quiet dinner and small discussion that night.

Okaasan is going to move from our home and daily care to a care home.

Never thought I'd be able to write that!

When? In the next 2 weeks maybe? Lots of official paperwork to be done.

I've started thinking what things from her room here at home we should move - and we already started to make plans to move my English school here. have to ask the house owners etc and make plans for THAT. It'll be interesting too see which of my students reads this blog and understands that the school may move....so far students have heard me talk about moving Okaasan, without making the next-thought-step: what about your big house?  It's a home we rented for three people to live. far too big for just two of us - and I will be very very Home Alone here this winter.
But moving the English School will be financially a good idea, and will use the space.

I haven't told the cat yet. He thinks the room off the kitchen, the blanket, the sofa....all his....

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Cheers!




Done. Applied for a care home. He's signed documents.
The next stage is in motion.

Gotta work now - more later.

Cheers!!

Monday, 30 October 2017

This? or That?

Two more care home visits this weekend.

One was another new tower-type building downtown, with floors of bedrooms and shared lounge, dining room and bathrooms. More light in the bedrooms. Full program of activities...

This really IS the growth business in Japan. Buy up some land, put up a tower block. Stuff it with old people...and hopefully enough staff...

The other was a big building downtown...but as we talked to the intake manager he and I started to realise that Okaasan wasn't so independent and mobile. Just as the conversation was starting to wind down...or so we thought...he suddenly said "well, the top two floors are the higher care areas, more expensive of course...".....

We went to look. Good light rooms. Quiet mood in the shared lounge. But the other half/downstairs of the same building was an actual hospital, with a physical training room! Amazing.

Lots of thinking now.

Would it be better if she was near to medical care? If something happens in winter when DS is away - the staff can notify me (of course), but they can quickly get her medical attention. In a regular care home they'd have to send her to a hospital and then I would be in the middle of administering that - all the paperwork and explanations - a new place....if she is a resident of the hospital's associated care home it will be easier.

Lots of thinking.

We also went to see Okaasan herself. DS was delighted that she could stand up herself from the bed, turn and sit in the wheelchair. Pulling herself up on the bars etc

"She can come home!" he grinned broadly at me...I assume, pray ...HOPE it was a joke.
I muttered darkly. We wheeled the chair around the local street and looked at autumn flowers, then took Okaasan back to the dining area for her lunch.
Oh! But my heart missed a beat. Come HOME????? My hopes have gone too far down the care home path to be snatched back now....I am sure there is no way she can become strong enough in the next 4 weeks to be safely left at home while I am out/working/shopping/upstairs....no way.....but...but....until the care home contract is signed and paid up...I won't be 100% relaxed.

More care home visits this week....trying to look for places with a hospital attached.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Shopping for a care home...

Sitting nervously on a sofa to be interviewed by a care home.

Who is interviewing whom?

We are explaining our candidate...her needs and abilities.
The care home staff is explaining their services and systems.

Somehow we hope to find a match.

Yesterday we went to visit one place, and there are two more this weekend. Walking around looking at bedrooms and day lounges, dining rooms. Checking things like staff numbers, night care, recreational activities, medical services, light, TV.....my Japanese vocabulary is expanding into new areas!!

The first place was good: warm,welcoming, nice big rooms that families are encouraged to furnish with familiar things. Small communal lounge with TV and friendly feeling. 4 times a month entertainment or recreational activity event. Weekly in-home activities like singing or handicrafts.

But. But...

* no physical training room or programme
* no sunshine in most of the rooms or lounge, because it was downtown and surrounded by buildings

Most of the residents we saw were in wheelchairs and we REALLY hope Okaasan will soon (next month?) be up and moving around with at least a frame on wheels. We don't envision her going on and on and on in a wheelchair...we still hope she will be walking again...at least inside, with a walking aid.

Maybe a bigger home is better? A place where - when she IS walking - she can walk round and round? Or a place in a wheelchair that she can GO somewhere? Like now in the hospital we go to the 5th floor for a view, we go to the training room, the courtyard garden, the day room....she isn't (yet) a non-thinking human in a wheelchair.....

It was interesting. You don't know what you want, what is necessary until you start looking. So we will continue looking. We must get her into somewhere by the 3rd week of November, before DS's ski work starts and he is out of town...

The hunt is on!! And yes....I am getting giddy with the excitement of having winter of freedom...absolutely giddy.
So are the cats...I've started letting them into Okaasan's FORMER room. Now I am using the room for drying clothes and wintering houseplants. Yesterday Chi-chi claimed OKaasan's sofa....where there are some odd socks and coathangers...and he curled up for a long sleep. And I let him.
Our home life is changing....

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Care home choices

So - we are officially looking for a care home.

Yippppeeee!!!!
The social worker came and DS and she and I sat at the kitchen table and looked at official documents and rankings of service levels - what is possible - what is necessary.

What kind of care Okaasan will need. What kind of place.
I was a little worried by DS's comments about how long this care home would be for..."until spring"..."short term"...and reassured that the social worker was saying: "Oh, usually after people enter care home, they don't come home again...short term means under 30 days..."

I am sure this is true. They get used to the life and settle down, the family gets used to not having that at home. Once she enters a care home she won't be coming home again.

Dear Son. He really is a loving son - and he doesn't get it. Doesn't understand. Home isn't best.

Okaasan isn't going to be well enough within 30 days to come and live at home....I know it.

Anyway, the wheels are in motion. Care home leaflets and information are around the house and on the computer history.

My winter of freedom is coming!! And FIRST snow is on the ski areas now!!! YIPPPPPEEEE!!!!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Wheels in motion?


Sunday morning I walked in on my dear man surfing the Internet....for care homes.

He was scrolling thru pages of bedroom plans and categories, pictures of smiley female staff holding tea cups with happy-looking old people.

Gosh. Senior models in Japan must be having a boom at the moment posing for all this stock footage of elderly in care homes....

So.

He is looking. Tomorrow morning the social worker will come to meet us here at home and we will discuss what happens next.

Is a big home better than a small one?
Private room is best?
How will her toilet situation - unable to get there unaided...how will that work?
Can we get one close to home?
Does it matter if there is a garden or not?
Will all the other residents be completely out of it and vegetating in wheelchairs?

A whole new thing is opening up for us.

And on Friday last week Dear Son went to the family court to attend a lecture about how to apply for control over an elderly person's finances etc....so he is trying to put all of that in motion too.

I feel guardedly elated.
I can see a winter of freedom opening up for me. No more rushing home from work to get a dinner together near 7 pm and on the table. No sitting, eating and trying to be lively and friendly for little response...after a day of work where I try to be lively and friendly with endless, endless people....

Instead I can come home. Eat something on a tray in front of the TV. Relax. DS will be away ski teaching for weeks on end...my winter life will be work, cats, snow clearing....MY life. I can have guests to stay....invite friends for dinner...
And of course I will go to a care home and visit Okaasan a couple of times a week. Be lively and friendly for an hour...then get in the car and come away.

That freedom. It's in sight.

But....but....even when we went to the hospital on Saturday and watched Okaasan's physical training. I still felt nervous - almost expecting her to miraculously  start skipping across the room, lifting her knees and pirouetting to show us her sudden-found-mobility.
Dear Son would look stunned and happy: She is better! She can come home right now! 

She didn't. He didn't. Relief.

She got in and out of the chair and walked between two bars at waist level. Gripping onto the bars with power, with the trainer gripping onto Okaasan's waistband. She walked 3 m and sat down. After a rest she walked..slowly another 3 m. And sat down. It was about the level of her ability in early August, before the 10 days of fever and knee pain.

Certainly not good enough to be home and alone, making trips to the toilet alone. Trips to the kitchen. Thankfully.

I have twinges of guilt about feeling that.....wishing her NOT to get strong enough to walk.
I don't want her home again.
There. I said it.....

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Solo visit

I popped in to see Okaasan yesterday - on my own this time.
Spent an hour or so with her: watching Tv and commenting on the program, wheeling the chair round the corridors and sitting with our drinks in the training room looking at a newspaper.

"Have you been to Turkey? You've been to many countries!"
"Turkey? No, I can't go there, I can't walk on my own..."
"Yes, now you can't...but 10 years ago you were walking..."
"Oh.? I don't know..."

A blank. 

But a happy blank. she smiled and laughed and chatted about bits and pieces. Waved at staff as they went about hospital business, peered at other old people. Looking at the Halloween decorations around the walls.

Content enough.
It's really the most surprising thing. How she has taken to living in a facility. I would never have thought it. She had so much negative feeling about hospitals etc
But I do hope I can get her to live in a care home, with more activities and mental stimulation. 

Hope.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Visualize it....and it will, will come about...

Social services have reappraised Okaasan and the level of care she needs.

Moved her up from Level 1 ...to Level 4....of a 7 level gradient.

I don't know the details of that. But I'm guessing it is good for us all. Good that we will qualify for more public care and finances, and good that DS will really see his mum has changed this year and needs greater protection and care.

She has been Level 1 since living with us and being under the social services system. But the events of this summer - God it all seems so long ago now - the fall in May and the broken back bone, hospitalisation, dementia explosion and subsequent medication and physical decline - ALL of that has changed her.

I know it.
DA knows it, if he is honest with himself.
Now social services have given the official recognition of it.

We went to see Okaasan yesterday.
Had a slight panic when we couldn't find her in the hospital for 5 minutes - a mix up about her being in physical therapy, or not - and actually she was happily sitting in the day room with the TV..

But there she was. All smiley and content. We wheeled her to the 5th floor of the hospital and sat with her and some canned drinks - pointing out the deeply boring parts of the south Sapporo suburban landscape, the pictures on the walls, the packaging on the  rice crackers...just making a little light, friendly feeling for a lady who doesn't know a whole lot.
She knows us. She knows Hokkaido. Doesn't react much to chat about old familiar things - Dear Son's blind customer who is in town from this weekend again...autumn flowers...

It's ok. Just an hour of chat and smiles...

We replaced her dirty clothes with clean and secreted into the drawers a new, long-sleeved pink blouse that I'd bought - I think I know her taste will enough now and I don't think she will be so aware of what clothing is her's or not...anymore.

Then we had a toilet trip. The 3 of us squeezed into a smaller than usual toilet - with the  wheelchair and our bags....he was holding Okaasan and I was reaching around her for her pajamas and diapers.

And finally we delivered her back to the day room where patients were being wheeled in and arranged at tables for their lunch. Ten or so elderly people, in various states of awareness around tables. They don't interact with eachother so much, they watch eachother and us...we smile...Okaasan looks at the TV, and us...and around the room - she isn't too bothered.

And then food arrives and her focus shifts...and we wave bye bye and slip away.

Dear Son says he understands and will start talking to social services about a care home for Okaasan. He KNOWS she can't come like this....he says he understands.

So.

Onwards.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blogging again :-)

YES! STILL HERE!!!

Actually I wasn't. Had a 2 week holiday in the UK - ate everything I saw, drank whatever I could and talked with lots and lot of people really really fast.

Happy trip.

Came back to Japan and had jetlag. Then a headcold. And a pile of teaching work and tourism consultancy work (gonna get paid by Japanese TV to go and eat season sushi :-) someone has to do it....)

Ok.

Okaasan.
Still in hospital.

When I last bothered to write this blog she was in a bad state: with a fever and a mystery knee pain. That lasted more than 10 days. Her energy went right down and she didn't do any physical therapy. So, of course, her muscles got weak again.

While I was away she started to improve. Dear Son continued visiting the hospital and finally in the last week, she has started to do physical therapy again. Much less that before - short distances. But her speaking voice is stronger and she seems to have turned back on course.

So.

While in England many friends asked me about my life with boyfriend's mother. And what is the future.
I said - I can't see her ever being able to come home and live with us again. I hope she will go to live in a care home. But boyfriend isn't at that point yet. In Japan it is a recent idea - putting elderly family members into the care of strangers.

So. I came home and wondered how to bring this about...

I talked to him. He agrees - the likelihood that she is going to come home in the coming month is zero. We couldn't safely leave her alone in the house. From the end of November he will be ski teaching.

It's time to start looking for a place in a care home for Okaasan.

I used two arguments....which I hope will persuade him...or at least give him a feeling that it is the best thing to do for all of us....

* Best for her.
Now she is sharing a room with an even more demented, and deaf old lady. Who shouts. Okaasan's TV is usually on a bedside table that is pushed back out of reach and vision. Okaasan herself doesn't have the decision-making ability to ask someone to set it up for her. When someone asks she says "Oh, I don't watch TV", but of course she does. Hours and hours. The nurses clear it out of the way. I think in a private room in a care home we could set up the TV exactly how she can watch it easily from her bed, or a chair. She could have all her stuff around her. It would be "home", not "hospital bed". I think her hour to hour life would be happier.
When we come to see her she will get 100% of our attention, not the usual harried conversation of tired, working people.
She will be safely monitored and at far less risk of falling again.
She will have all the activities - the singing, the seasonal events, the hobby things....a community of activity. Not just us and the cats.

* Best for us.
We can get on with our lives knowing she is safe.
We - and really I - don't have to worry about being late for work etc when Okaasan suddenly refuses to go to day care...I can imagine the driver coming and me trying to get her dressed to go out...her refusing and the care unit van blocking a snowy road....lots of staff and I try to get her out.....and my work responsibilities pressing.
When we see her we will be happy to go and chat. No stressed.

So. Let's see.
I think it will be hard to start this process....Dear Son seems to think it will be easier.....just a matter of applying and then getting her to move to another place in the same, or neighboring, building.

I doubt she can get a room in the same place. It is a hospital and care home - but it IS a city wide company, and the fact that she is already a patient in the system must be good. Japanese systems take forever to unwind....it won't be easy. 

Anyway. Cross your fingers!!! It may be happening......but it won't happen at the speed I am hoping for, that is for sure. I will have to keep on his case...can this all happen by the end of November??

Watch this space...


Monday, 11 September 2017

Downhill...sharply

Okaasan's condition has deteriorated. No real clear reason why. Yet.

Since last week she has had a fever, not very high...but a change. The hospital but the physical training on hold, and she ate less....and stayed in bed.  quiet...

We spent 2 hours with her Sunday. Sitting at her bedside being chatty and gentle. She liked a dried persimmon fruit we took in and snacked away on it....but her body stayed curled up and facing away from us.
When she nurses brought the lunch tray, they tried to get her to straighten her legs...it was a big performance and she seemed to have pain in the right knee...but finally stretched both legs out.

She ate a bit. Tried to. Gripped the chopsticks and the spoon strongly...but almost fell asleep while feeding herself and spooned pudding everywhere...I tried to help by supporting the plate and putting food on the spoon...and trying to get the spoon near her mouth.

It was agonizing....slow...quiet and a big struggle.

I wondered: is the beginning of the end? She seemed exhausted by the smallest effort. The hospital had her on an IV drip the day before....the doctor couldn't find anything specially wrong with her leg. Worrying.

After a bit of lunch she did look at photo albums a little. Smiled a little. But very different.

Most worrying: a week now of no physical training...again...so all her muscles will get weak again.....just as we were seeing progress.

I suggested DS tae in music and headphones on some device, so she can listen to songs she likes. Watching Tv or a magazine seems too much effort.

Worrying.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Walking...strolling...

Occasional updated blogging...sorry.

We visited Okaasan at hospital and saw her physical training session again. She was mentally and physically a little dull, but she could walk around the training room using a walker/stroller on wheels - but with the staff firmly holding the belt of her pajamas.
Not self standing and moving yet.
She and I paid a toilet visit, she was quicker about standing up from the wheelchair and moving to the toilet seat - but sat down half on and half off the seat! Noooooo! very dangerous. That is exactly how a fall happens.

She is happy though. Chats to us, drinks a can of coffee...looks at the newspaper a little.

Tomorrow she is having a dementia test at the hospital - I don't know what the test a week or two before was. Anyway - it all helps to assess what kind of help we can get, practically and financially.

Next week NEXT WEEK!!! I am going to the Uk for a 2 week holiday, so I doubt Okaasan will come home before or while I am away, which leaves her at the hospital until the end of September. It's a long long time since her fall in the kitchen in May.

The house selling is still on hold. Dear Son will try to apply to the court to become Legal Guardian for his mum.

And so. All of that.
Over and out.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Missile approaching...


Not what you want to see on your breakfast Tv screen...missile course over where you live.

That's us, that big green island - Hokkaido, with the north Korean missile flying over Tuesday morning...actually flying about 3 hours south of here...

Dear Son and I were drinking coffee at 6 a,m and watching Kevin Spacey in House of Cards - where as US President he rips up democracy in Season 3 - when both our mobile phones started ringing and vibrating with government alarm systems.
Incoming missile. Take cover in a strong building or basement!!!!

I mean really. What would you do? 

Do you actually get up from the sofa, grab a cat and run for the nearest basement - in our case the local supermarket? 
We didn't. We sat watching TV and checking Facebook...cos that's what we do...

And then you go on the BBC website and send a Contact email so that later in the day a BBC journalist can contact you for a few words of "local British person talking about missiles"....I was in a webpage story and my voice and HORRIBLE LinkedIn photo was used on the lunchtime TV news....very strange to sit here listening on my phone and to hear the programme presenter say: "UN...President Trump....North Korea...Japan....Amanda Harlow in Hokkaido"....

You can read the BBC thing here :-)



Sunday, 27 August 2017

Festa!!!!

Here we are!
Okaasan and Me Festa! Festa!

The hospital annual summer festival for patients and families was a wonderful WONDERFUL event.

Big and well planned. Staff in festival jackets directing cars, manning game corners and food and performances. Lots of kids - lots of old people in wheelchairs - pajamas - festival coats - aloha shirts - music - balloons - food!
The physical training room transformed, corridors decorated.

We had a blast.

Dear Son was on his last day of bike taxi working with the special customer, so I was the family member with Okaasan for this event and she and I ate our way thru octopus balls, friend noodles and shaved ice with syrup - had our picture taken, pulled lucky strings and chatted to lots of friendly staff and volunteers.

Okaasan had a good time, watching the kids play with their balloons and laughing and smiling. She kept asking me WHEN the commemoration photograph had been taken - "was this a long time ago?"..."No, it was 3 mins, 10 mins, 20 mins 1 hour ago...look you and I are wearing the same T shirts now!"... 

After 4 months of hospitals and stress, it was nice to do something normal and fun with her.  
Can she come home soon? I guess....one nurse said she is now walking with a frame....

We had a toilet visit together, and I took off her dirty diapers, but had to get a nurse to help with putting on fresh diapers...it's strange this - to change from being the friendly family member to saying "sit down, do this, go here, lift your bum, let's change these"....crossing back and forth over the personal line .

Anyway. A good day.

After the festival I went for a long walk by the river, came home and watched TV...went out with Dear Son for dinner, ate Christmas Cake and ice cream - a present from a British friend...it was a good day.


Saturday, 26 August 2017


Ahhh...who IS that sweet little girl?

All innocent and charming. With her daddy in a garden in London, UK a long, long time ago.
One day young girl you'll grow up and move to a country far away. Meet a man and end up washing his mother's underwear. What a delightful life you'll have! 

Today is the 8th anniversary of my dad's death. Well, actually it is the 8th anniversary of the day I heard he had died. We think he died 2 days before...he collapsed and died in his living room one evening, after returning from visiting his wife in hospital. He was cooking sausages. His dog was with him. The TV was on. His pancreas exploded. The doctor had come that morning to examine him...because of pains....but had gone away with a "nothing wrong, let me know if you feel worse".

I guess dead on the living room carpet is worse.

I miss my dad still. I'd seen him 2 weeks before he died, on one of my trips back to the Uk. Remember that year I went to the Uk...what? 4 times?? It was the horror year.

So. Today I will be doing Okaasan care. Dear Son is busy all day with bike taxies. And today Okaasan's hospital has some kind of summer festival event. I will go and watch her physical training and join her at the event.Daughter-in-law duties.

3 weeks from now I will go back to the Uk. We still don't know if/when Okaasan will come home. The idea originally was BEFORE I go to the Uk...but I wonder if that is possible.

Anyway. Dad. I miss you so much. I'll eat some delicious food in your memory today - a creme brulee. Or a cake.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Physical ability

Here is the physical therapy training room where we spent yesterday morning watching Okaasan being put thru her paces.

Really interesting - stretches and massages, then:

* practice in sitting upright and swinging legs over the side of the "bed".
*  Walking between those bar-rails to the chair at the end, turning by changing hand position and sitting down.
* Standing up right from the wheelchair and remaining standing for a count of 20 - holding onto bars in front.

All of this while wearing heart rate monitors.

Okaasaan enjoyed it. You could really see that she enjoyed the physical challenges and chatting to the young, cute therapist. She did well and we sat nearby and watched and gave her smiles and thumbs up.

Before the therapy session started we spent an hour with Okaasan and her wheelchair. All over the hospital, looking at views, looking at prints on the walls and two trips to the toilet with the help of nursing staff.

"Can you stand by yourself?" Dear Son asked Okaasan at one point as the three of us, plus wheelchair, were squeezed in a toilet cubical.
"Stand myself? Of course I can! I couldn't live alone if I couldn't stand on my own!"

Very true.
That is the point!!
Okaasan thinks she DOES live on her own - somehow surrounded by other elderly people in wheelchairs and nursing staff in white and pink uniforms. We know she doesn't - and are trying to judge whether she can even come and live with us again and be left alone for a few hours safely every day.

The hospital did the dementia/life assessment again last week.
Maybe a score of 9/30....two years ago it was 8/30.
It was 14/30 six years ago.
Does this mean OKaasan has improved???????!!! OMG!!!

No. I don't think that interview test is so accurate. But I am surprised if they really think she is mentally the same as 2 years ago. Anyway. That interview result is considered alongside family interview and physical ability - and then the social services decide the level of public health care we can use.

Watching the physical therapy was interesting. Okaasan is getting stronger and can stand and move from bed to chair better. Her walking (aided) is good. Turning so-so.
Turning is important, because that's what we need her to do if she goes to the toilet without us at home. We need her to be able to stand up from the bed, walk thru the kitchen, open the toilet door, go in, turn round and pull her clothing down - and then sit.
Of course we can put in more hand rails - but the basic ability needs to be there.

It isn't there yet. 
Another 2 weeks? I guess that's when we could try and stay at home and see how she is.
To see if we can work it all out.
Or not.


Friday, 18 August 2017

Don't count...

...your care homes before they....are a reality.

Dear Son is not there yet.....

Another visit, another look at the physical training....and reassuring chat from the staff that the diaper use is not constant....really???...and he came away more positive about our ability to have Okaasan at home with us.

I am not so convinced.

But, I am playing the good wife role...gentle, understanding support.....whatever he want to chat about.

I AM being strong in opposition to the point that daily diaper changes are beyond me. And if we can't leave her safely for less than a few hours - home life isn't possible.

But.

Japanese man.
Man?

Making a decision seems to take forever.

I am guessing Okaasan will come home. And we all will see how that is...and then eventually....he will understand that a care home is a better option.

He is an intelligent person. Got one of those off the chart IQs, in fact....but sometimes SO BLOODY dense!!
"Oh, I talked to the social worker...getting a place in a care home isn't so easy..."

You think?
Yeah. Right. Japan - fastest aging society in the world...millions of families just like us, all trying to get outside care for their elderly. I know it. I talk to people....how can he not know this??

Am now waiting for him to reveal to me:

Eggs are not round
The world is not flat
Japanese office workers do no meaning overtime
Trump is going to bring America to its knees.

Sigh.

Holiday. 4 weeks from now.....counting the days....

Monday, 14 August 2017

Tectonic shift in thinking

Okaasan's future may not be home with us.....

A shift has taken place in Dear Son's thinking. A huge shift. Tectonic plate size change in thinking.

He is now thinking and talking about a care home future for her.

I'm trying to be gently supportive, not pushing one view or another.

A few days ago we went to visit her at the physical therapy hospital. He'd visited alone a  day or two before and watched Okaasan's training - how far she could walk holding onto bars and how much her heart rate increased when she tried to use a walking frame. He came home fairly positive.

Our joint-visit on Friday. Okaasan was in her bedroom with the deaf roommate shouting annoyingly. We got her into a wheelchair an the three of us sat in the physical training room - watching other elderly people have their training regimes with balls and bars. Okaasan kept saying how being in this room was a first time for her...despite having been in the room doing the very same exercises just a few hours before.

We drank canned coffee and chatted.
Okaasan smelled bad...I knew a diaper change would be necessary.
Then she asked to go to the toilet.
We wheeled her to the toilet and the three of us went inside.

Dear Son was advising/helping Okaasan to stand and move from wheelchair to toilet seat.
Advising her how to move her legs so her body changed direction. She had no idea....
I was pulling down her pants and reaching back and between her legs to catch the heavily soiled diaper as her bum swayed near the toilet seat...managing to catch and lift out the diaper before she sat - and into a handy trash bag nearby.
Then I went to get a nurse to help with cleaning and re-diapering....

We stayed for an hour or so. Wheeled around the hospital looking at pictures. Left Okaasan joining others for dinner time near the TV.
We came away.....for our dinner and life.

Hmm...

I wondered. Could Okaasan come home at all soon, like this? Come home ever, like this?
She has been in diapers for 4 months now, mentally and physically she is used to that. This will be beyond "toilet accidents", to regular diaper changes....even if she decides and activates a toilet visit on her own....I am guessing there will be more diaper use. Much more.
Could she turn in the toilet? Our toilet at home? Would she understand HOW to walk in, turn round, take down her pants and then sit? Could she DO a toilet visit alone?
Could we leave her for more than an hour alone...?

These thoughts were in my mind. I talked to friends about my worries...and said to Dear Son that I still thought Okaasn's permanent return to life with us was only a 50% possibility.

And he agrees...thinks the percentage is larger - in the negative.
He doubts we and she can manage together at home. Even with day service 5 days a week.

I guess this IS the hoped for/expected result of putting her in this kind of hospital/home environment - thinking by the social worker to get the family and the aged person accustomed to the reality of care outside the home.

Dear Son said he is going to talk to the social worker this week.
He is starting to believe that Okaasan may be generally happier and safer in a care home....

If you've read this blog for a while, you'll understand what a change in thinking this is for him. From not wanting any outside help - to accepting and coming to the realization that the time for us being able to care for his mother alone is coming to a close.

A new chapter is ahead.
I am relieved. I think so. 
I can't see how it would be here...specially how it would be for me in winter alone with her. Impossible.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Birthday at "home"


Happy Birthday Okaasan! 87 years old and getting stronger and stronger.
Our birthday cake visit went well. Just got the timing right:  at towards the end of dinner time in the hospital lounge. She enjoyed the cream and strawberry cake with her nearest and dearest...and only family members.

Still in a wheelchair, but she can stand and move to the  toilet or bed much easier. Blank memory about most things and confusion about place.
"Do you want to stay at my home?"
"U(m, this isn't your home, this is a hospital....you live with us at home..."

Doesn't matter. It just means she accepts the hospital as the "now" and ok place to be. It makes leaving her and coming away much easier.

Most years for her birthday we go out and eat her fave crab. This year was different. But happy enough :-)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Hospital Visit

I did the daughter-in-law/wifely duties yesterday - the hospital visit.

AFTER I remembered which hospital she was in. I drove blithely to the wrong hospital...and minutes away realised my mistake and had to turn the car round and head in the right direction...

DS was busy all day driving a bike taxi at a city event. So I finished work at 4 pm and went to visit Okaasan in her latest hospital.

She was in a wheelchair in the day room, parked right under and in front of a huge TV. Engrossed in the later afternoon local Tv show of cooking and housewife things. A nurse and some other elderly residents were behind her doing simple handicrafts at a table...folding bags...

Okaasan was happy to see me. Chatted happily about the TV program. Enjoyed  me wheeling here around the ground floor of the hospital - looking at all the paintings and flower arrangements. Friendly, positive. Happy.

NO memory at all of physical therapy - the room nor the activity. Never mind.
Aware of her own birthday tomorrow..after some prompting.
Quite accepting that DS was at work, and that when I came to leave that I had to go shopping. She seems perfectly accepting of being in hospital - whichever hospital it is. This bodes well for the future I think - whether that is regular day service or longer care.

Tomorrow is her birthday. 87 years old.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Final hospital before...

We moved Okaasan to the 4th hospital yesterday - two cars, two adults....a lot of running around and coordination. I had an unexpected window of 3 hours between classes - so was able to give my morning to the whole operation.
He took charge of Okaasan and wheelchair - and all the paperwork and consultations. I brought up the rear by packing all the stuff, carrying the bags, unpacking all the stuff. Amazing how much "stuff" Okaasan has...considering she has lived in pajamas for 3 months.

Okaasan was happy and cooperative throughout. She accepted it all. No chat about "want to go home"...maybe she doesn't know where IS home? Or, she is so in the moment that she thinks this is always just a temporary place?

The new hospital is a big place, currently undergoing major expansion. Half the site is a building site with cranes and men in hard hats. It's linked to one of the big care home groups. The hospital has a large physical therapy room...I was reminded of a training room for war injured people...there was even a group sitting in a circle throwing a big beach ball around - the classic scene of any physical therapy.

Okaasan is in a two person room. But sadly she is near the door.....where it is darker and the view through the doorway is to a busy corridor with all sorts of people walking up and down noisily. Not a great situation. The other occupant is a shell of an old woman...attached to an IV...who moans "mamama" every 90 seconds....

Hmmm.

We'll see if we can get a better room....

The physical therapist came to visit and asked Okaasan what she'd been doing up to now. Okaasan was a blank. DS was away with a nurse doing admin...I filled in the missing details as best I could. The staff were surprised that Okaasan can sit up and swing her feet to the floor by the bed - they will use a sensor to make sure she doesn't try to walk herself...

We get the feeling she will be here for a short time...and then...come home....

Our freedom time is going. So we are heading to a beer garden after work today.
Dear Son had better drink sensibly.....

Monday, 31 July 2017

Next stage...

Okaasan will change hospitals this week - to a physical therapy hospital. For the last stay to get her really prepped for coming home. Maybe 2 weeks there? 3?

She IS getting better day by day. Yesterday I went to see her, without DS so he could have a break from hospital visits.
She was very alert and friendly, happy. I took her a magazine with a free bag present. Opened the present for her and she was so happy with the bag she immediately put it round her neck and kept showing it to me and explaining its design points!

I also took a coffee  from a convenience store, and we sat sipping coffee in a friendly way.
When the nurses brought the wheelchair for the toilet visit - Okaasan could ALMOST stand unaided to move from bed to chair, and on return was even better.

All good.
Modern medicines are amazing - that her natural state would be that angry, shouting old lady - suspicious and delusional. The drugs have made her like this. Incredible.
I have a glimpse into the future that she CAN come home again and we CAN look after her. It won't be the same as before, she will have less independence - we will have to take her out more....I have no idea how the winter will be - can he work and leave me for weeks alone looking after her with just day service care? 
We'll see.....

We went to see the new hospital on Friday.
Not a great visit - he and I were still angry with eachother about the drinking and his fall. It was raining. I had a 3 hours block of time between classes - we visited Okaasan and then the new hospital and the social worker.
Lots of mis-information. Mistakes. Confusion about where to park the car. Shouting and stress. I never actually got to see the room because the introductory meeting went on for so long....didn't make for a happy Friday.

Anyway. a calmer weekend. A lot of sleep. A walk in the park and flowers. My foot condition is a little better? Maybe? The doctor is trying new medicine. I am being ultra-careful at home clean socks and dry surfaces. Every morning I help DS dress HIS wound. He started work again...with a baseball cap and sunglasses to hide the 5 stitches above his eye.

Onwards. August starts tomorrow...it is Okaasan's birthday next weekend. I guess we'll do something at the new hospital....or she will be allowed out in a wheelchair for a restaurant visit?

Onwards.

Friday, 28 July 2017

And another one down...

Shouldn't blog while depressed.
It'll make ordinary moans seem worse and crisis level.
But I can't help it. Need to vent.

Another member of the family has fallen at home...while I was upstairs...and I REALLY REALLY promise I have nothing to do with it.

Stupid fucker of a boyfriend. He got drunk and fell late at night in the bathroom. Hit his head on something and gashed his eyebrow area. Deep, long cut. Blood spatter everywhere. Bathroom walls and floor. Towels, T shirt, bed linen. The works. Nasty, stinky iron-smelling blood that dried in angry dark blotches everywhere.

Refused hospital aid that night. Of course. Next morning went and had 5 stitches to his face. Very lucky it wasn't his eye 4 cm away.

Stupid stupid man.

I am angry with him. Disgust and anger. Tired and SO over this man and his problems. His mother, the dementia, the hospitals - the whole thing.

I am having holiday in UK in September. 7 weeks away. It can't come soon enough.

I hate his over drinking. It's the culture of Japan - drink till you are stupid. It's the culture of Britain too. Smart people should know that and not let it control them. I don't need this in my life and I am angry that he doesn't see how stupid it makes him.

Four of us went for a drink in the city beer festival Wednesday night. A friend and his new wife, me and Stupid Fucker. Met about 5.30/6 pm. Drank and ate until just after 8 pm. All of us had work the next day. I had an 8 am narration job for the university. I had one drink and then stopped so my brain and voice was ok for people who are paying me to be in control.

God knows how much Stupid Fucker drank. 4 large glasses? Maybe. But it was with food. It wasn't a binge night out. Just a few hours in the city park, at an annual event, with friends.

He and I went home. He was staggering and tripping. The usual. Got home. Prepared for bed. I dealt with the cat and yet another not-dead-yet-mouse....then Bed. He got up to to the toilet downstairs...and as I closed my eyes..glad we'd got home early enough to ensure a chance of sleep...

Crash. Crash. Bang.

I lay there. Wondered. Stupid drink had fallen against the kitchen door? the bathroom sink? Where was the noise from? I waited. 
And 3 minutes later he came upstairs with a towel round his head. Blood everywhere.

Stupid.

I hate him at the moment.


And just to pile on the moans:

I am enduring endless hospital visits and medicines etc because my left foot has some awful fungal condition. The skin is being eaten away and it is and open mass of fragile skin layers. I've changed hospitals and doctors, I'm on my third course of treatment. I can only wear one pair of shoes. I want to go kayaking, but maybe I can't because of getting the foot wet and dirty.

So, there is that.
Moan.

And Okaasan?

oh yes. This blog is meant to be about her.

Yes.

Later today we will go to the hospital and see how her physical therapy is coming along. Then we will go to a different hospital and meet the social worker....because the next stage is that Okaasan will transfer to this physical therapy for old people hospital? Two weeks there maybe to get stronger....and then come home to her super happy family.

That's us.
Stupid Fucker and Angry Zombie Foot.

And a nightly parade of dieing mice.

And how is YOUR summer???

This is mine.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Holding pattern and happy

Really sorry - getting behind on the blogging.
Sapporo turned hot again and I just don't have the energy for things...

Okaasan is doing well.
She is starting to walk with walking frame supports and they are pleased with her. One foot is still swollen. She can't stand up herself from seated position.

We've been to see her a couple of times and mentally she is good. All smiley and friendly. Looks at photographs of South Africa and Rome - this lady traveled! - and we wheel her around the hospital floors for a different view.
Hard to visit someone who doesn't have any conversation skills. She sits and smiles at us...we chat to fill out the space. Talk about the tree...talk about the picture...

But she is happy.

The nurse at the weekend said there will be a medical appraisal this week and maybe an assessment of how much longer she NEEDS to be in this hospital - and when she is ready  for transfer...AGAIN! ...to a care facility that will do more and more physical and mental therapy.

Japanese hospitals are a constant merry-go-round...I think this is their way of milking the national insurance system. Moving patients around every few weeks so everyone gets a share of the insurance pie.

But we are sure: until Okaasan can stand on her own and walk from her room to the toilet and back again. She can't come home. We can't sleep with her every night, we do need to go out and leave her for a few hours. If we can't get her to that state - then it's a care home future.

We are hopeful...that in August she will be home. Whether that is for good, or not, we don't know.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Restraints in hospitals....

A patient was admitted to a mental health hospital in Japan.
For 10 days he was tied hands and feet to the bed.
After 10 days he had a heart attack - the family suspect Deep Vein Thrombosis.......Economy Class Syndrome...whatever it is you want to call it.

Lack of movement and exercise in a mental health hospital. Restraints.
Something apparently long criticized as inhumane by international commentators.

Sound familiar?

A very sad story about a Kiwi English teacher in Japan.
you can read it here. 


Okaasan is doing ok. DS told me.

He went to see her Sunday. She was up in the wheelchair and trying and failing to stand. She had lunch at the table in the day room. She chatted to him. He came away happy. This week the physical therapy will start.

Tomorrow Dear Son will meet case worker and social worker......

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Visiting dementia

Not a great visit to Okaasan yesterday.

No big crisis. Just the sad reality of a lady with dementia....and an hour of silence and a few words exchanged. a smile or two.

We came home sad. Drank beer. Ate dinner. Felt sad.
]
As soon as we walked into the room we could see it: her face. That face of dementia. She was on the bed, slightly curled up - looking at the wall with an anxious face. The nurse bustled in with us and started raising the bed and talking brightly about family visitors and dinner-soon.

We unpacked the things we'd bought - special shoes, another mug cup with straw...a magazine that....will she look and enjoy mangazines anymore?

Dinner arrived. We sat with Okaasan for 45 mins while she picked at dinner. Alternating between chopsticks and a spoon. Seemingly enjoying the orange jelly....a little miffed that the veggies didn't have soy sauce. 

DS encouraged her to eat gently. He and I talked a little about his customers and the weather. Okaasan ate. Stared at us. Stared at the name card on the tray. Stared at the food. Eventually we turned the name card around - because she stared at it so much and tried to process it. And didn't eat.

Stared. Long.....stares. As if every thought process was taking time. Which I guess it is. SO different from saturday, when she sat and showed me the South Africa pictures - elephants and hotels and friends. Laughing, informative. So different.
Why? She is taking the meds. But maybe yesterday was a lot of stimulation...and she reacted well. A day in the bed in hospital...with a few visits from well-meaning nurses....staring at walls.

It's a 3 day holiday weekend. No physical therapy is going to happen till Tuesday. We worry.

Can she really come home again? Ever? In August, when DS has the rich customer for 10 days of bike taxi work - will I be sitting with Okaasan for lunches and dinners with her like this?

What IS going to happen?

This IS dementia. I feel as if the last few years have been a gentle preamble. A confused old lady, who was able to do most things herself with our reminding and encouraging.

What is here now, and what comes next. Suddenly in 2 months we are here. And it doesn't look good.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Third hospital...

So.
Okaasan is in her third hospital in 10 weeks.

This time a large, bright Circulatory Hospital - with super bright nursing staff and a positive mood. She is in a sunny, two-person room near the nurse station and has already run a bunch of tests and preps for getting her UP and MOVING independently.

We hope that this hospital can achieve mobility without the need for the brain-fluid draining operation - that meds and physical training can do it.

Hospital decorations


We feel positive.
We think.

We moved her  from mental hospital to circulatory hospital ourselves yesterday afternoon. Sapporo was sizzling in a once in 127 years July heatwave. temperatures at 34 C.....I saw a deadcrow and another one thrown back when he tried to land on a cable....

First mental hospital. Pay the bills, get all the meds, check all the correct letters and mails have been sent between the doctors. get two huge bags of clothes and washing things, diapers.

Okaasan arrived in a wheelchair. Happy enough to see us.
Loaded her in the car. Drove quietly and gently to the other hospital.

Waited, endless tests...and finally admission.
More bedside tests for Okaasan.
Finally she is sitting happily in her bed and looking through photo albums with me - talking about South Africa again. It's the best conversation I've had with her for weeks. Entirely normal. Happy and good conversation.

I was so happy. I moan a lot about Okaasan. But I have - strangely - come to love her. When she is in a good place mentally it is such a relief and so welcome.

The hospital had a good vibe. Like a smart business-style hotel in Japan. Decorations, pictures, nice furniture. View from the window of the forests and hills.



The admissions procedure was exhaustive/exhausting. The staff interviewing us about Okaasan and her recent events - even the hospital dietician  talking about her food tastes (no cheese or milk or mince. No prawns, but loves crab etc)

And this is maybe a strange comment, but foreigners who are living/have lived in Japan will understand: the staff treated me as a human, NOT a foreigner.
They made eye contact while talking to DS and I, talked to us equally...asked me questions. Just treated me as the family member. It's a small but good point about a group of people.

Okaasan seemed happy in her new place. I worry that the change from quiet, non-stimulating mental hospital private room to a shared room near the bustling nurse station will be too much for her - but we have to hope it's ok. There are no private rooms available at the moment.

And so. We hope again - to get her standing and walking a little. To try and get her OUT of diapers and using the toilet herself. It's a holiday weekend in Japan now, so not much will happen for 3 days - but then we hope this hospital will get Okaasan's body matching her new, calm and happy mind.

She's been gone from home over two months now. In August DS has a demanding, regular customer for the bike taxi and in September I will be returning to the Uk for the first time in 5 years. At the moment it is easy for us to share the Okaasan worries - in the coming months our lives will be busier.

Anyway. Mercury is rising...I have sweated the computer chair into a mush. I am going to go and stretch out by Netflix and indulge in "Homeland".


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Huge choices :-(

Came the message from DS on my smartphone at lunchtime.

"I'm in a different hospital with Okaasan :-("

And so our day changed...

The mental health hospital alerted him mid-morning: Okaasan's legs were swelling up, they were worried it was signs of heart problems etc. Please come quickly. 
He swept into a rush of getting away from work, taxi to the hospital, consultations, ANOTHER hospital recommendation - Circulatory Hospital? - then he took Okaasan by taxi to the other hospital for 4 hours of checks, advice...waiting and diagnosis.

Not heart problems....phew! - but circulation problems which are probably due to inactivity and blood thickening. Meds for thinning the blood...recommendations for circulation treatments and physical therapy...and recommendation of admission to THIS hospital to tackle these issues...

DS very shocked to realize in all of this that Okaasan couldn't stand by herself or walk....he was hauling her in and out of the taxi and hospital chairs. She is in diapers. Happy enough, luckily. Not over-stressed or angry.

He took her back to the mental health hospital - she was happy enough to be returning there. During the long waiting in the afternoon she'd constantly said to him: "Oh, it's busy here, we should go home" - but seemed happy enough that the "home" place she returned to was a big building with a smiling woman in a white uniform...

So. All of that.

And THEN he had to change tack and rush off for his 5 pm appointment with the lawyer to talk about the house sale and the legal problems of that....

Trying to summarize:

Selling the house is going to be hard.
He can't become her Legal Guardian for the housesale unless there is some major reason WHY the house needs to be sold.
Just "nobody in the family needs the house now" is not enough.
If she needs the money from the house for expensive care - better.
Hospital stay/general care home - probably isn't a good enough reason for a judge.
This is why - there are empty homes all over Japan. Many families are stuck with former homes they can't sell until the elderly person dies. 

Bugger.......................

Very unlikely/dangerous to try and get her to sign documents now - the fact she is in a mental health hospital and her dementia level has gone up - no legal professional is going to go near that situation and risk professional censure.
If she had signed the documents 2 months ago, before the fall, all would have been ok...

Bugger.

Oh .....and even if he and I get married....and then he dies before his mother...I would be able to take care of her life decisions and use her money for her care...but after she dies...the proceeds from the sale of the house would go to the Japanese State...and not to me...unless I have children. Cats don't count.

I don't need/want Okaasan's house money...all I want is to know I can make decisions for her in the event of his death by over-skiing.

Are you still with me?
I'm not.

So. We have had looong, sad discussions last night and this morning.....and it's only 7 am...

We both feel that her physical decline in walking etc is the most pressing concern. Bad.
The latest meds seem to be calming her mental condition. Good.
The mental health hospital is making her physical condition worse. Very bad.
She can't be at home unless she can at least walk to the toilet herself - even if she goes to day care Monday to Friday daytimes, that would still leave us nights and weekends of DS having to sleeping in her room to stop her walking and falling....and all the diaper changing.

So. If the mental condition is under control - she should be admitted to the Circulatory Hospital to get standing and walking again? They have a physical therapy training room and program?

IF she can stand and walk a bit.
THEN come home?
OR - find a care home for her?

TRY to start the process for DS to become Legal Guardian. TRY to get permission to sell the house?
OR: just leave the house empty and unsold, until Okaasan dies?

We are exhausted by all these choices and decisions.

There you have it.

The orthopedic hospital last month didn't care for Okaasan's mental condition.
The mental health hospital now isn't caring for her physical condition.

In 2 months her mental and physical conditions have declined sharply. All because of a fall.

Bugger.