Lying in bed, in that hazy state of semi-waking and sleeping, I turn my head toward the digital clock on the nightstand, and inwardly struggle to decide what to do. It’s 6:10 in the morning. I force a decision: with aching body and an ugh! I kick the blanket off my legs, painfully slide to the edge of the bed, and with my only useful arm, and grasp the side rail.
I remind myself I’m 85 and not as strong as I used to be – although with a single arm I lift a 15 pound dumbbell every day – tighten my core, stress my bicep, and push down hard. I manage to slowly sit upright. When straight, I dangle my legs over the side, feel for my slippers, slide my feet in, reach out in the dark to slip my left foot under the seat of my wheelchair – it better be there where I parked it when I got into bed – push my foot up, and stand for “a wrinkle in time,” before I glide securely onto the seat cushion.
I lavish in the moment of success – and pull the cord.
It’s a new era in living in the ALF: I know who’s coming to lead me through the daily ritual of “rising and shining,” because each resident has a specific caregiver assigned to him/her each month. The only wondering I have to do is when she will get here.
As I wait for her knock, I wheel from the bedroom into the living room, head to my computer, check the NOAA weather forecast and scan the news stories. Then, the knock.
I have “risen” by myself. But I require assistance to “shine” – to toilet, to dress, to brush my teeth and hair, to clean my glasses, to take my meds, to take a drink.
As a resident of an ALF with my cognition intact, “senior moments” at a minimum, not yet in the haze of dementia, regardless of my perception, despite my sanity, my achievements, and the variety and depth of my
life experiences, I can’t dress myself. I need help. That’s why I’m here.
(The Shining portion of Rise and Shine! Is the subject of the next blog. Stay tuned)
Redux is a French word meaning “redone” or “revived” or restored.” In his next several blogs, Dick Weinman, who has been lifting the curtain on living life in an Assisted Living Facility or ALF since 2013, revisits the events of his ALF life since he first shared them on AARP.com. Hurrah! Life in Long Term Care, or LTC, of which an ALF is one component, is changing for the better, moving closer to the goal of “person-centered” care for the final years of a person’s life.
Dick Weinman is our Assisted Living Facility (ALF) Guru and an AARP Oregon volunteer.