My Family’s experience with Nursing Homes – Grandma Cook in hindsight

As I wrote in last week’s post (January 22, 2015), we struggled with the decision on where my Grandma should live after her broken hip.  Our positive experiences with Grandma Schneider (blog post of January 10, 2014) and Aunt Gert (blog post of January 16, 2015,) caused us not to fear nursing homes.  Still, each person has an individual personality, individual desires, and individual expectations.  After Grandma had lived alone for 34 years after Grandpa died, we worried whether she would like the nursing home (even though she had made the decision herself to stay there rather than return to her house.)

Grandma died on Halloween, at 100 years old, after 8 years in the nursing home.  I’m not sure her nursing home stay could have been much better.  She seemed happier during those 8 years than I ever remember her being before.  (It’s not like I haven’t known Grandma my whole life.)  She smiled more during that time than ever before.  Her voice was cheerier than ever before.  It was a great experience.

When living alone, Grandma had always been active.  She got out of the house and had breakfast with friends almost every morning.  She stayed out for card games or activities at the senior center and then had lunch at the center.  After lunch she had more things to do before returning home for dinner.  (Years ago, we bought her an answering machine so we could have some chance of letting her know we were trying to reach her.)  Because of her busy day out of the house, we weren’t sure how she would adapt to spending most of her time in one building.

We shouldn’t have worried.  It was the activities that interested Grandma and not the geography.  The daily activities at the nursing home kept her busy.  And, I believe she really liked not having to drive to get to her activities.

They had bingo every day and twice on Saturdays.  (Grandma loved bingo – always did.)  They had music every day.  (I’m not sure anyone in the building could carry a tune, but they sure had fun.)  She attended religious services.  (Now, Grandma was never religious.  At the nursing home, a religious service – Jewish, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, whatever – was just something for Grandma to participate in.)  There were lots of group outings, and Grandma went on almost all of them.  She stayed behind only when there wasn’t room for her because it’s someone else’s turn to go.  (Admittedly, Grandma did slow down somewhat as she aged.)

Grandma was also happy that someone else took care of meals.  She didn’t have to decide what to cook and didn’t have to do the cooking.

Grandma’s experience in her nursing home was about as good as it could have been.  We were lucky.  I’m sure, though, that the biggest reason it was successful is because Grandma made it successful.  She didn’t fret about what she didn’t have anymore.  She dove in to enjoy what she had.  Grandma was great!

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