While at rehab this week…..
One day this week I arrived at the rehab where my grandmother is staying. She said, “I am wet” (referring to she had wet herself). I said, “don’t worry, I will change you”. She said, “I’m really wet” and I replied ” it’s ok grandma I got it” and she said again, “no, I am soaked”.
I lifted the blanket and saw that in the bed was a pool of urine. She had urine up to her waist and down to her feet. I quickly realized that whoever had changed her last did not put a pad/diaper on her. So, throughout the day she was just sitting in her own urine.
Then one morning this week a nurse came in and took her blood pressure and heart rate. Her blood pressure was 95/36 and her heart rate was low. Thankfully I had a personal paid companion there at the time who contacted me right away. I asked the companion to ask her if she was hungry and she replied that she was. So I quickly drove over to see her, stopping at a fast food place and getting her a breakfast of scrambled eggs pancakes and sausage. I arrived and I noticed she was a little pale and very sleepy. I sat her up, she said she was hungry, so I gave her the breakfast and orange juice and she ate all of it.
I don’t know why her blood pressure and heart rate was so low. I know that they never called to tell me and no one ever came to see me about it. I do know that she was hungry and that she pretty much refuses to eat the food there, lol. Wouldn’t it be nice when they see if she doesn’t eat her tray that they offer her something else? Or call to let me know and I will happily bring something over? After she ate, all her vitals became normal again. Then shortly after she pretty much went back to sleep.
Last night the CNA we personally pay to sit with my grandmother two hours each evening in the rehab arrived and Grandma was slid down in the bed (again). The bed is sitting up but her head is in the flat part with feet hanging over the edge.
I can be there four+ hours at a time and not one person will walk in the room to check on her. I don’t understand that. People will push their call lights and it can be hours before someone comes in. The best chance of getting someone quickly is going to the front nurses station and getting someone. But of course a patient or resident cannot do that. When my grandmother needs helps, like most people there she needs it right away. One CNA for twelve patients is just not enough, not matter how good or well intentioned they are,
Advice for the day- if your loved one is in a facility seek support from any relative or friend you have and hire companions and cna’s as you are able. Have them come in shifts during the hours your loved one is awake (so if they sleep through the night you can skip those hours), so they are never alone more then a few hours at a time.
The shifts can be short, 2-3 hours at a time, with 2 hour breaks in between. In this example, we are hopjng that in the 2 hours that you don’t have an advocate with your loved one that they are left in a stable resting position. It is very important that your sitters understand your expectations, are aware of common situations, and know how to contact you. I like our sitters to oversee meal times.
Example schedule while in a facility.
8-10 sitter until asleep for the night
I notice for sure during the day it is best for my grandmother not to be unattended (with a personal aide) for more then 2 hours. Four hours always has a concern or issue! We are constantly changing her schedule as they alter therapy hours and right now as a family member is here to help. For us, at this point, someone is one on one wit her typically about 8-10 hours per day.
The purpose of this companion/sitter is to keep the facility on their toes, be a voice for your loved one, give one on one attention and companionship to your loved one, notify you of emergencies or concerns, and assist as they are able by fixing the problem or getting a facility employee. It breaks up the time so you are not solely responsible for every hour or every shift.
Make it known to your friends and family you need help! Maybe a friend will volunteer to take a shift/s per week. Maybe some family members will share the responsibility. Maybe those family members who can’t contribute their time will help pitch in to pay for paid companions,sitters,aides.
People can’t read minds, so if you need people you must make it known. It’s hard to ask people for help, but if you don’t, you will have to do it alone, which is impossible unless you don’t work, don’t have kids and have lots of extra money. I will tell you as I have learned, you will find out quickly who you can and can’t count on. I am completely shocked and dismayed at how some family are immediately “too broke, too busy, too lazy, too far away” too…too……too…full of excuses! Family who normally call won’t and those who have money are broke and those who have time are all of a sudden busy and committed for months. Prepare yourself for the disappointment in advance and hug and love those who unselfishly help and support you in your endeavors to take care of your loved one. Anyone believing that a facility makes things easier for the caretaker hasn’t experienced it yet. There are pros and cons in each situation.
My grandmother keeps asking when she is leaving, will I take her home now, and stating she wants her kitty, and wants to go! Sometimes her voice is loud but the last few days it gets softer and softer. Rehab has helped with her facial muscles which is great, but she won’t walk or stand again and her arm is completely paralyzed. Right now we are working on figuring out the next step.
If you have any related experiences, questions, or comments I’d love to hear them.