Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas in the care home

Happy Christmas everyone!

Here is Okaasan in her care home room - opening up the Christmas present I took her (her fave bean jam cake/dried persimmon/chocolates) and a can of sweet rice drink.
The norovirus on her floor cleared and I got in yesterday for the first visit in 2 weeks. 
She was fine - happy to see me, chatty, laughing - very relaxed actually. Sitting right in front of the big TV in the shared lounge. In her wheelchair. 
I stayed an hour. We chatted about TV programs, Christmas, food, persimmons and she was good. Took her to the toilet once. Cleaned her room a little. I didn't get her walking with the frame...I'm still nervous to do that alone with her...she isn't at all steady on her feet.

So - 2017 was a bad year for her and us...but now as it ends she seems fine in her new home. I feel a little guilty that she isn't home with us, but in a public environment - one of 30 old people to be toileted/fed/washed by staff.
But. Having her home WOULD be impossible. And dangerous. And so...

My Christmas is the usual weird one in Japan. I am actually working today, December 25th, and tomorrow. But I will finish early, have time to go to the gym and then come home to open presents sent by friends from the UK, cook myself steak, open a bottle of wine...and watch Season 2 of the The Crown on Netflix. 
Recently was crazy busy at work. I had 26 classes/work parties last week and felt exhausted.
Wonderfully two New Zealand friends have an annual Christmas dinner in their home, which I went to on Saturday - 10 guests and a LOT of food :-)

I feel nostalgic at Christmas for my family in the UK...all long gone now, of course. My mum and step-dad used to do amazing dining table centerpiece decorations - create little worlds of Christmas scenes with cotton wool, sparkly stuff and toy gnomes.... We once went to a Christmas Eve church service with real animals in the dad and his wife did wonderful Christmasses at their home in the countryside...I miss it.

This year I am alone (apart from cats) in a large house in Japan. Netflix is my companion :-) I hardly decorated the house, and tomorrow at the classroom I will take down the tree etc and prepare to close the classroom for the year end. Dear Son is at the ski instructors' winter home, he just Skyped with me from the ski area parking lot....working Christmas.

Not sad, though. This year, finally, I got Okaasan into professional care. And she is happy enough. That is a HUGE happiness!

Saturday, 16 December 2017


All set, I was.
All set for my first winter life visit to Okaasan in the care home.
Our new Normal. Yay!!!! 
No longer do I have to think of shopping and cooking for her at a weekend, and where to take her out for a walk. And sitting, having boring dinner with her....and lunch...and another dinner...

Dear Son is away ski working. Saturday morning - I collect a photo album of memories from the cats' room, take the little side table for Okaasan's room, pick up some hot can coffees from a convenience store, sign in at the care home ground floor desk and paste on my warm-friendly-smile.

Take the elevator to the 10th floor.
The doors open to a strange sight: a tray with a wet towel in it, and a dry towel are on the floor. Odd. A resident had a toilet accident here and the staff are in the midst of cleaning? I step around and make my way to the staff station and lounge.
Bustle of activity....a staff rushes up. In a face mask. Not SO surprising in Japan, when every winter half the nation hooks a paper thing round their ears in the hope of cold protection.

"Oh! So sorry! Our boss didn't call you yet? You don't know? We have a case of norovirus here, since yesterday. We can't let family members in at the moment. Maybe for one week. Can I take anything for your mother-in-law? I'm so sorry - she is fine, don't worry. It isn't her, but we have to close the ward to outside visitors!"

Then I notice the screens and trays and towels etc round one of the rooms and the elevator scene becomes clearer. That was a shoe disinfectant tray and wipe!

So, of course, I come away. Gave the side table and cloth to the staff for Okaasan's room, glimpsed her across in the lounge happily watching TV...and came away. Suddenly with a slightly emptier Saturday morning than I'd planned. :-)


Well, you know - not exactly YAY for norivirus. That's horrible for everyone, and a killer for the elderly. Of course we don't want Okaasan getting THAT. It's worrying....but all we can do is hope that the care home can get it under control and protect a whole floor of elderly residents who all share toilets/tables/chairs....

So. First time for our new Normal. And it isn't Normal at all....:-()

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Still settling....

Another week of new home uncertainties.
The doctor said the evening meds could be delivered in powdered form, so the staff have been giving them to Okaasan in her evening coffee - fine until she declares (as I expect she will sometime) : "Coffee? I NEVER drink coffee after dinner!!"

But for now good.

Dear Son continued his visits because there is a slow start to his work season. Some days Okaasan was in a good mood, other days the demons were raging and she was angry about going into the lounge, or even using the walking frame.
He came home depressed.
She will start physical training again tomorrow. It's taken the system almost 2 weeks to get THAT going...frustrating. Dear Son has taken her for walking frame walks along the corridor...otherwise she would have been inactive again for 10 days.

So. Fairly ok. A few more things are needed for her room. Things to do.

Last week should have been a week of freedom. But it wasn't because one cat got a bad urinary infection and had a high temperature for days. Vets visits (and bills) and general sleeplessness. An exhausting week.

Christmas party season is starting....

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Settling in ups....and downs...

The cat is settling into Okaasan's old room nicely....along with wintering house plants, drying laundry and the debris of a person's life...
It IS strange. She hasn't died. But I'm 90% sure she will never live in this room again, or use the things that are in it. Actually, she may not ever even see this room again - bringing her to the house may be too confusing.
But there are loads of her things - pink and red little towels, old clothes, hair pins, Hawaiian dance dresses...

This winter I will spend some time - when Dear Son is away at the ski areas - sorting thru stuff and getting rid of a lot of it. 
Is there a word for it? This appropriating of someone's possessions when they've died, or left the home? The kotatsu/heated table blanket that Okaasan lived under every winter has become a cat gym shirt is one of her old T-shirts...there are a million little things here and there which we might use, or throw away.

How is she?
I've been busy with work, so Dear Son has gone every day to the care home to visit Okaasan. Mostly fine - she was always sitting in her wheelchair in the main lounge - either watching TV with other residents, or looking at a magazine. Happy to see him...basically ok.

The staff said the bed sensor may be too sensitive - she moves in the bed a lot at night, and her alarm song "Hear comes the sun" was playing a lot in the wee hours. Moving in bed is fine, it's the standing up from the bed which is dangerous - and this may have to be changed for a mat.

She will see the doctor next week and start rehabilitation training again.

So. We have freedom. And we skied. Up early and out together to do our first ski. He will start work from tomorrow, he needs to practice...I need to get confidence back after a bad fall on the last day of last season - buggered up the deep parts of my knee and spent 2 months in a lot of pain this spring.

So - there we are - a free, relaxed couple at a ski area.....actually THE ski area where we met...oh God...about 20 years ago....a ski area romance :-)

All good.
On the way home we went to the care home...

Took Okaasan out, briefly, in her wheelchair for a walk round the block. Not very beautiful streets near the hospital in early December. Took her twice....the first time she started talking about toilet needs within 20 meters of the care home doors - so DS had to spin the wheelchair round and head back inside. Her standing and turning ability isn't reliable enough to risk a strange toilet where you can't get the wheelchair right inside...

Anyway. She seemed fine. A little tetchy with us about things. But ok. Encouragingly, she was actually talking a little to the old lady who was sitting near her in the lounge...I never, ever saw her really talk to other patients at the hospital. Will she start to socialise? At another table in the lounge a group of 6 women were chatting and laughing...will she make some social contact? She is a kind of proud lady, who dismisses others as "boring/stupid"...but there IS life and laughter in the lounge.

As we left we went to the staff station to talk to the floor manager.
He'd told DS before last week that Okaasan was sometimes difficult to medicate in the he really told us.
She basically refuses her medicine after dinner...and if the staff are lucky they can get her to take it within an hour or two...but she  is getting aggressive with them about it...and it's important medicine for the emotional control of the dementia...she needs to take it in the evenings.

Saying "here's your medicine!" of course is a bad idea...although she has taken medicine mostly acceptingly this year (to our surprise)...but maybe this is a backlash to the change of location/people/routine? The hospital didn't say they had problems with this.
Is it because the hospital staff looked like - and of course WERE nurses? But the care home staff are wearing casual clothes and Okaasan wonders WHY they are trying to give her medicine?

The manager said he will talk to the doctor about whether the medicine can be crushed up and hidden in a drink or yogurt...and I wonder whether the staff who gives it to Okaasan should wear a white jacket, and LOOK like a nurse....

Anyway. A bit of a downer. Dear Son was worried and apologised to the manager.
"I felt so relaxed at the ski area...and now this..." he sighed as we headed for the elevator.

I don't think it's a big problem. There must be a way round the problem. But she does need the medicine...

But it is a little worrying. The  anger is JUST there, lurking in the wings of the smiley, friendly old lady - a situation that isn't what she wants and it steps center stage and starts to perform....and it is a very scary anger. We saw it on the weekends she was home this summer....and we were unable to cope with it. I guess the care home people have more experience with it...but hopefully a way to get the medication down her throat will be found.
I am NOT going to attempt to wrap Okaasan in a towel and hold her you do with a cat!!!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

That day has come.....

When you've dreamed of THAT day for ages.
Then it comes.
And you are too knackered to celebrate it......

That day. When Okaasan moves out of our home and into a care home. Well, actually out of hospital and into a care home. But you know what I mean.

Once I wrote about celebrating with cheese fondue and wine on this day. Eating the food we could never eat while living with his mum.
Well, I am still at the office catching up on paperwork (and blog!), he is probably at home with a beer. We had a late lunch, so we agreed to eat leftovers.

So. The moving day.
As if the saga of the bloody curtains and moving his mum across the city wasn't enough to deal with - we ALSO had to get one of the cars into the car dealer for a winter tire change. Booked months ago and just happened to be on the same day.

So. Cars all ready and packed with last things for Okaasan and winter tires, we were at the sewing shop at 9.30 am to get the curtains.
Then across the city to the care home - curtains put in place.
Then the car dealer.
Then...the hospital where Okaasan was sitting dressed on her bed, a little bemused about all the staff coming to say goodbye to her...
"Where am I going today?" she asked me while DS was away paying at the office.
"Ahh!! Look you have a nice, stylish muffler!" I cried with desperation....and got her looking and thinking about that...and not where she was headed next.

The 3 of us into the car and back across the city to the care home. Funnily enough, it is 4 blocks away from the very first hospital she went into after the fall in April.

Big welcome. Okaasan confused....lots of chat about the height of the bed and walker, and then Okaasan was actually wheeled away to the lounge for lunch with other residents while we sat down in her room for a pow-wow with the care worker, the 10th floor manager, the rehabilitation staff and the lady from the bed rental company. 
There was a general review of Okaasan's situation this year - and what level of care we hoped for now. DS had to sign about 15 documents...add his seal etc...duplicates...etc etc....all very official.

Curtains!!! Look!!!!!!!!!

After that we stole away for lunch and I did a class. Then 3 hours later we went back to see how she was faring.

She seemed a little tense, a little loud voiced...but also smiles and giggles. We took snacks and a magazine. She and I sat in her room watching TV while DS had a meeting with the doctor. Okaasan recognised things as hers, but somehow the room feels bare.
The nice flower wall stickers I had bought to decorate the walls seemed hard to use, I will have to try and do that another time. I still wonder if she needs a table....

When it was time for us to go (car dealer and back to work....) we took her back to the main lounge and the staff wheeled her into place at a table with other old ladies, near the TV. Okaasan did exchange some words with them...and she did wave at us as we left.

Dear Son said: "she looks happy, I think" maybe he feels reassured. He will go again tomorrow.
We'll see how the first night goes. 

I think she doesn't notice any difference in the lounge - at the hospital or the care home. Just a room with tables, people and a big TV.
But her room is a different space, and she will be alone there - before it was a shared room.

We will see......

Of course I am happy. Finally got her into a care home with professional care. My winter will be free.
But I worry that the change will make her condition worse again....the current drugs have her basically calm and happy. We don't want to go back to restraints and anger.

So. I am now going home to drink a glass of Yuzu wine and leftovers. And watch War and Peace, BBC costume drama at its best. Tomorrow I have to prepare for a tourism workshop I am speaking at this weekend....and OMG! Just remembered I have the dentist tomorrow...

Onwards :-)

* Thankyou for your messages of support for the blog. I will try to continue - but it will be less. I will probably see Okaasan twice a week....but we all want to know how she gets on in the care home and what happens.....and I promise some pix of Hokkaido snow, skiing, cats and ......whatever....

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Room setting up...


Sunday morning. With slight hangovers from DS's birthday dinner the night before...he and I are sitting in our socks on the floor of the care home room.
Sewing curtains.
I HATE sewing. Really. My mother was a skilled sewer. Hell, she actually wrote and edited books on the subject in the UK in the 1970s.
Me? hate it.

Our moving Okaasan's stuff into the care home started well - bright and early we managed to pack all her things into one car and arrived just after 9 am at the next stage of our life with Okaasan. The staff were so welcoming, we had 3 trolleys of stuff to take to the 10th floor. A slight wait for the room key and then - we were in and setting up.
As you can see - the rental bed, wheelchair and walking frame were ready.
We set to with TV and table, clothes boxes, clothes rack, trash box, personal knickknacks...and curtains.

They were too long.
Dear Son had measured the window for me. I'd sized up all the curtains we possess. And chosen the green ones. And washed the net curtains to go with them.

Dear Son hadn't noticed the small heater/air con unit on the wall below the window....both net and green were about 20 cm too long.

Luckily it's Japan on a Sunday morning and 100 Yen shops sell everything. So we went and bought a travel sewing kit and double sided tape for easy-hemming.

No problem! Curtains down again. Both of us in our socks with curtains spread out on the floor. He tried to tape up the net curtains, I attempted sewing on the heavier green ones....the travel sewing kit scissors disintegrated every time I tried to use them...designed for tiny TINY fingers??

Intense concentration. Sounds of the care home echoed around us. The resident who has "Hi ho, Hi ho" - yes, the Disney dwarf song - as their motion sensor alarm song was apparently trying to get to the toilet endlessly...we could here the staff chatting...people moving around.
We sewed and taped on.
Hate sewing. Okaasan may notice bad sewing. May complain. Have to make it look ok. Wish I hadn't sold her sewing machine about 6 days ago.....the tape didn't work. I sewed the net curtains too. Swearing at the scissors.

Finally done.
We hang them up. Um. Not hanging right. Gaps. Looks bad. Even to me. And Dear Son. I try to make them better. Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
If Okaasan notices them - she may throw a hissy fit and hate the room. Obviously.

"I think we should get them professionally done?" ventures DS.
I agree. We sigh and take them down again.....finish up the room and head out to lunch, exhausted. Later, deliver the curtains to a local sewing shop - professional lady will do a rush job and have them ready by Okaasan moving day - in 3 days time.....

The rest of the room? We hope it looks ok. We hope she will enjoy the familiar things...
Wash basin area.

The photographs, the clothes, the scarves, the Tv.....
The view....not great today...but there WAS a naked man opening his curtains at 10 am!!!!! I may have to move in myself...

Why did Okaasan cut this pic out of a newspaper ages ago and pin it to the wall? She loves flowers and pink and red - pretty things. Why THIS picture? Anyway, it's come with her to this new home...

Still things the need doing, before Wednesday.
A small shelf near the sink for towels.
Washing stuff.
A nice bath towel.
A curtain to hang above the entrance door, so she feels it is HER room...
Bedside table?


And curtains.

This will all be wonderful eventually.
Now, it is just tiring.
Her old room has great big dusty gaps in it now. I will spend my winter cleaning it and getting rid of a lot of her old stuff. Downsizing....the cats are already living there.

My Okaasan and me time is coming to an end...
9 years.
What will I do with this blog? Living together with Okaasan is coming to an end.
But I will continue, because I sense all of you lovely readers want to know what happens to Okaasan from now on.

And me?
Maybe so? I feeeel your lurve...


Thursday, 23 November 2017

We have a date :-)

Oh yes indeedy. Double kneedy. Don't get greedy...

We have a date for Okaasan to enter a care home!

Next Monday? Tuesday?  Ok...we have two possible dates.
Moving stuff into her room this Sunday, then moving her next week.
A new chapter of our life.

Dear Son spent THREE hours in discussions with the hospital/carehome/social work staff yesterday. 3 hours. A group of Japanese people can talk any possible decision into the ground and round and round.....
All about the rules of the care home and what they will do/we will do. What Okaasan needs.

DS said Okaasan didn't really understand what the visitors were coming for...anything about the impending move. Just smiles and greetings. Thankfully, she trusts him.
We will rent bed, wheelchair and sensor mat. Pay for bed lined and cleaning service. Hopefully we can furnish the rest. Starting to look around our home and my classroom to think what furniture could be used.

Funny, this blog started...9 years ago...with us doing the same. Prepping a small apartment near our then-home for Okaasan's imminent arrival to live "with" us. It was early December and we'd just come back from a holiday in India, celebrating Dear Son's 50th birthday. He'd decided his mom in the Tokyo suburbs wasn't coping well living alone and that she'd be better moving to our city.
A small apartment two doors down was free and we came back from holiday to finish furnishing it with new carpets and kitchen stuff, curtains etc And I was worrying about life in close proximity with a woman I hardly knew.

And here we are again.
This weekend is DS's birthday...and we are prepping a room for his mum. Her last home? Probably.

Meanwhile I am making plans to talk to my accountant about a business change as we are asking the house owner about moving my English school here...and Okaasan's old room in this house has become a cat dozing space, a plant wintering room and a laundry.


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 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 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 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


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 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


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

Gotta work now - more later.


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/ 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, 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 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.

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....


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 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 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 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. 


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 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.



Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blogging again :-)


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....)


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.


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 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


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 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 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.


Thursday, 7 September 2017


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


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 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'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 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.


Japanese 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 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.


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.


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.