My adventure in caregiving this time around has been focused on my in-laws, who share our family home with us and the Day Program we are running at our retreat centre, Stonebridge Haven. But this house where I live is a BIG house on a BIG lot with permissive zoning and so the question has been there from the start as the 4 of us rattle around in this big house with our 3 cats. With a number of rooms simply empty, particularly 2 bedrooms on the 2nd floor, will we or won’t we get a home business going to support seniors? Well, we finally decided to give it a go, inviting in another senior in need of support in maintaining their declining independence. “J” was placed here by his niece through “A Place for Mom”, which she found doing an internet search for senior’s residences. While they charge a steep referral fee (to the lucky residence that is chosen), they are effective at getting people who are searching for senior’s residences hooked up with those who are geographically close enough to consider.

If you haven’t heard of transitional housing, or LHIN Crisis list accommodation, this is needed when your loved one can no longer stay at home but does not have a place ready for them in long term care. In the interim they need transitional housing and J was one of these guys. He had had a fall in his apartment and was no longer considered safe there. His niece who has POA (power of attorney) gave him the choice between staying in the hospital or coming to stay with us, and so he chose us. When he got here he hadn’t had a bath for 2 weeks, he was skinny, scabby, dirty and smelly, he was not taking his meds or doing any mouth care and his diet consisted of crackers and Kraft peanut butter and Nescafe coffee with sucralose. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

As soon as his niece left, I gave him a shower, gave him a real coffee (we grind organic beans) and began feeding him more balanced meals. Although he had been receiving LHIN care in Toronto (one bath a week with nursing visits to change dressings), it took a while for the LHIN care to kick in here. So I prevailed on one of our PSWs who was there for a 5 1/2 hour stint with my mother-in-law to give him his shower and told him he was going to get washed 3 times a week, government orders and ladies provided to do this.

Then his meds. He was diabetic and supposed to be taking metformin but we could not find prescriptions older than 2 weeks before his fall. With the help of our amazing local pharmacist (Pakenham Remedy Pharmacy) who called the doctor in Toronto repeatedly until he got his questions answered, we got him set up with blister packs for morning and evening medication and his testing kit for diabetes.

Meanwhile I attempted to give him some sociability, introducing him to my in-laws and getting him out to our Day Program. But he steadfastly resisted coming down the stairs to see anyone or do anything. He was very shy but eventually settled comfortably into his little nook on the 2nd floor as he got used to, and even looked forward to, the daily flow of PSWs handling his baths and mouthcare. I brought him the meals his PSWs didn’t handle and chatted a bit about the news and weather. I would have been happy to do more, but it was all he was up for.

But he was safer and healthier staying with me: we managed to hook him up with the local doctor, get his prescriptions extended to cover new needs, etc. I even planned a visit to the dentist for him to look at whether there was anything that could be done about his floating dentures that made eating and talking so difficult and a hearing test as well as to see if we could improve on how deaf he is.

But you just can’t push too much and you can’t go any further than they’ll let you…whether it would be better for them or not. Good ole J!