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...