A while ago, I mentioned that my sister and I were looking for a nursing home for my cousin Jenny. She has cerebral palsy, and doctors predicted that she wouldn’t live long after she turned sixteen. She’s 68 now, and she’s taken strong medicine for years to control seizures and muscle spasms. Her right arm and leg don’t work as well as her left. And the medicine has caused some nerve damage, so she’s beginning to fall more than usual when all of a sudden her right leg won’t hold her. She’s reached the point where she can’t be left alone anymore. But doggone that girl has a positive attitude!
The three of us sat down and talked about her world shrinking, and the fact that she was watching more and more TV and socializing less and less. A nursing home that offered a lot of activities with people available to get her to the ones she’d enjoy looked like the best option. And we found a really good one. My sister and I moved her furniture in last Monday. On Tuesday, we moved Jenny and all of her favorite pictures and knickknacks in and let her decide where she wanted them. We met her roommate–a sweetheart. And at the end of a long day, her room looked really nice and Jenny was settled. It was hard for all three of us when it was time for us to leave.
My sister worried about her all night and went up early the next day. Jenny had already made two new friends and had gone to breakfast and then a daily coffee club where the activity director read the newspaper to whoever came while they talked sipped their coffee. After that, she went to an exercise club. And by the time my sister got there, she had lots of news to share with her, and she was excited. My daughter went to spend a couple of hours with her the next day, and HH and I went on Friday. And Jenny never stopped talking to us for the first half hour, telling us all of the fun she was having.
It will take more time for all of us to adjust to the changes, but it looks like Jenny’s going to thrive at St. Anne’s. The caregivers are warm and wonderful. Jenny gets therapy every day to try to keep her as strong as she can be for as long as she can be, and she’s determined to get even stronger. She won a prize at Bingo. Made a new friend.
I know it’s a hard decision when a loved one needs more care than you can give him or her, and each person has to make whatever decision works best for her and her loved one. Just like writing, one thing doesn’t work for everyone. But this decision looks like it’s going to be a blessing for both Jenny and my sister. Jenny won’t call St. Anne’s a nursing home, just her new home, with her new apartment and her new roommate. And right now, she’s happy.