My grandparents, ages 91 and 92, moved into assisted living on Friday. This was the end(-ish) of a saga that had begun on Sunday, when, while trying to change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time, my grandfather went into his garage for a hammer and nail,* tripped on the threshold, fell and was trapped between the van and the garage wall for who knows how long before Grandma started to miss him. A 911 call, a couple days in the hospital, and one very lucky result--he's bruised and battered and hurt and looks like hell, but he didn't break anything... or tear anything, even.
That's not to say he doesn't have injuries. He is messed up. Luckily I have very strong cousins who came to help once he got home a couple of days later... because there's no way my mother and aunts could have done what needed to be done without their help. When you can't even walk, that's a problem.
He qualified to go to the one nursing home in town, but there was no way any of us were going to let that happen because A) been there, done that, and 2) that place is crap. They're more worried about the fee than they are about the people they're caring for--and I am not exaggerating. My mother had to bust Gramps out. Literally. So that was not an option.
Assisted living offers respite care, though, and, while Medicare won't pay for that, it was unanimous--that was really the only option available.
And lo and behold, Gramps went from being adamantly opposed to assisted living to announcing that "this thing" was bigger than all of them and he needed to go. The catch was that he wanted Gram to go with him--they were a united front on that end, and of course no one thought they should be separated anyway. (Apparently the place had to call corporate because no one ever wanted to have their spouse in a respite room before. Well, they've been married 72 years, you guys.)
So on Friday, several family members got them moved. When push came to shove, the reality of this plan hit everyone hard--it's easy to say they need to go into assisted living and easy even to set that all up, but physically moving someone out of the house they've lived in for 65 years? That's a heartbreaker, although I think maybe the rest of the fam is taking this harder than I am. Mostly I am just relieved and grateful that they're both there, and that it was their own idea. (That's a gift. My Grammie M. was pretty much moved in kicking and screaming, although I think she sort of came around in the end.)
And! Their rooms are comfortable and full of their own possessions. They've got 24-hour care, and a housekeeper, and meals, and plenty of people right next door to keep them company. Life is going to get a lot better. I don't know that being in a house until you die is the most important thing you can strive for. I think quality of life trumps where that life is lived out.
It's NOT the end of an era. It's the beginning of a new chapter.
*Gram was UP ON A STEPPING STOOL and apparently the nail the clock had been hanging on went into the wall, so Gramps went for the hammer and new nail. This story is alarming on so many different levels I can barely keep the threads straight.