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The Decision

By Trish Hughes Kreis

(Page 3 of 4)

While at the Skilled Nursing Facility, I had several meetings with the out-placement director.  I still thought Rob could go home once the infection was cleared up and he and Judy could continue managing on their own, with my assistance on the weekends, and, hopefully, a few hours a day of some competent in-home care.  The out-placement director told me this was not advisable.  I don’t even think he was that nice about it.  He flat out told me Rob could not safely live on his own.  I continued to think they just didn’t know Rob, that Rob had been able to do fairly well, until recently, on his own.  I also argued with the facility about the “mental retardation” notation on Rob’s chart.  Sure, he was slow to answer but that was because his brain was in a fog and not able to process conversation as quickly as others.  He was not retarded and what an archaic description!  I was incensed he was saddled with this label. 

While visiting Rob everyday, I slowly began to realize that he really could not take care of himself.  He did not make safe decisions.  His short-term memory was terrible.  He occasionally couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time.  Yet, he did everything the nurses asked of him.  He was polite.  He dutifully took his medications and ate all of his meals.  In fact, he ate as if he hadn’t eaten in ages.   I eventually realized that Rob needed more help than I could give him on the weekends or a caretaker could give a few hours a day.

The nurses at the Skilled Nursing Facility loved Rob.  He was a sweetheart and they cared for him with extra attention due to his seizure activity.  Amazingly, neither the nurses nor residents feared him even though he was probably the only resident who would fall backwards without warning – sending little old ladies scurrying out of his way. 

Even faced with all of this information and new insight, I struggled with the decision to send him home to live with Judy or find a suitable Assisted Living Facility for him.  I hated to take Rob from Judy and worried what would happen to her if we found a Care Facility for Rob.  I fretted about taking away his autonomy but had to weigh that against safety and health concerns.

Rob couldn’t decide what he wanted to do either – some days he wanted to go back home to Judy and other days he wanted to live in a Care Facility and have people make his meals, give him his medications and keep him healthy. 

Our Mom had died nine years earlier and I wondered what she would have wanted for him.  Would placing Rob in a Care Facility have upset her?  Would she want that for her youngest son?   Dad thought it a terrible idea but his notions of Care Facilities had been formed 60 years ago as a child when he saw his grandparents warehoused in a facility.  Plus, he had proven he wouldn’t be much help if Rob went back home. 

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