6/16/2008

At the Nursing Home 老人ホームにて


A room at the nursing home.
(老人ホームのある一部屋。)

Before we drove to the nursing home, we had a lunch at a restaurant. That was the last chance to have a meal with Grandma. She was clear after the doctors put her medications back.

When we checked in at the nursing home, there were a couple of problems. First, 3 pm medications for Grandma were not ready although we called the nursing home in advance from the hospital and confirmed. Luckily, we had 3 pm pills from the hospital just in case, so we used them. Without medications on time, Grandma's physical and memory function goes down due to Parkinson's. The next problem was that no one at the nursing home really welcomed us. We went to the front desk, and we were told to go to a certain room number, and we took us there, and when we got to the room, no one came, so we did not know what to do. Loren looked for a nurse, and finally, a nurse came and set the room up for Grandma. These incidents made us a bit nervous in terms of what kind of care Grandma was going to get from now on, but they were a very seasoned physical therapist, a professional nutritionist who has been working there for a long time, and a keen social worker who helped us feel better. We set up Grandma' phone line and got her phone number. I saved it in my cell phone, thinking that's the number we will call from now on to talk to her. A nurse made Grandma's bed, showed her how to use a bathroom, how to push a buzzer to call her. Grandma seemed to like how the room and the nursing home are decorated which made us feel at ease. She had a roommate, and she seemed to be a nice person. She could not talk loud and fast, so Grandma had to learn to quietly wait her to finish what she had to say. Loren took care of all the necessary documents with the nursing home, and Grandma was exploring things around to adjust to this new "home."

A dinner time came. All residents eat together at the dining room. I pushed Grandma's wheel chair there. She was assigned at a table with five other people. Some could talk but could not hear well. Some could hear well but could not talk well. Some had tubes going up in their nose. I was actually scared, meeting new people with various circumstances. I tried not to show that on my face. Grandma seemed a bit hesitant to sit at the table as well, but kudos to her, she introduced herself to everyone and initiated a conversation with everyone. That's something she is really good at. She makes friends easily and makes everyone feel like included. Loren and I sat at the lounge area where we could see how Grandma was doing in the dining room. We pretended that we were watching a TV in order to let her know that we were not watching her, but we observed carefully. She said that she liked the dinner.

After dinner, she did not want us to leave until she fell in asleep, so we sat around her bed, looking back the crazy days at the hospital and wondering how the next couple of days would go.

Loren, his mom, and I were exhausted. We slept like mud (in Japan, we have this expression. It means that we slept deeply).


A kitchen attached to a dining area.
(食堂に付いているキッチンエリア。)

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Grandma showing how much she can walk to a physical therapist while Loren pushes her wheel chair behind.
(おばあちゃん、どれだけ一人で歩けるかリハビリセラピストに見せているところ。ローレンは念のため車椅子を後ろから押していっている。)

老人ホームへの途中、レストランでお昼ご飯を食べました。それがおばあちゃんと水入らずに食事を出来る最後のチャンスでした。ローレンの説得の甲斐があって、お医者さんが薬を元通りにしてくれたので、おばあちゃんの意識もこの頃には大分元に戻っていました。

老人ホームに着いてからいくつか問題が起こりました。一番最初の問題は、おばあちゃんの3時の薬が用意されていなかったこと。病院を出る前から老人ホームに何度か電話してその確認をしておいたのに。幸い、念のためと思って病院に頼んでもらっておいた3時用の薬が手元にあったので、おばあちゃんにはそれを飲んでもらいました。規則正しく薬を取らないと、パーキンソン病のために身体の機能と記憶力が弱くなってしまうのです。次の問題は、誰も老人ホームで迎えてくれた人がいなかったこと。フロントデスクでおばあちゃんの部屋の番号を聞いて、その部屋も自分たちで見つけて、そこで待っていたけど誰も来ないので、ローレンがスタッフの人を探しに行ったという始末。このような問題がローレンと私を「この先、一体どうなるのか?」と不安にさせましたが、その後に「どうも失礼しました。」と言ってスタッフの人たちが来てくれて、ベテランのリハビリセラピストの人や、長年働いている栄養士の人や、ソーシャルワーカーの人と話をしているうちに「おばあちゃんのことを任せても大丈夫そうだなぁ。」と思えてきたので良かったです。

おばあちゃんの部屋に電話を設置し、その番号を私たちの携帯電話に登録しました。「これが、おばあちゃんと話すためかける番号か」などとしみじみ思いつつ。老人ホームで働くスタッフの方が、おばあちゃんのベッドを用意してくれ、どうやってトイレを使うか説明し、何かあったときに押すブザーの押し方などを見せてくれました。おばあちゃんは、部屋や老人ホーム全体の内装が気に入ったみたいで、おばあちゃんの反応が気になっていたローレンと私にとっては嬉しいことでした。おばあちゃんにはルームメイトが一人いました。その方はあまり大きな声で話せないのと、普通のスピードで話せないので、おばあちゃんは静かにその人の話を聞く練習をしていました。ローレンは色々と必要な書類にサインしたりと、老人ホーム側と忙しくやりとりしていました。その間おばあちゃんは、全てが珍しいという感じでこの新しい「家」の隅々見て回っていました。

夕飯の時間になりました。老人ホームに住んでいる皆で一緒に食堂で食べるようになっていました。私はおばあちゃんを車椅子に乗せて、食堂まで押していきました。ある一つのテーブルにつくように指示がありました。おばあちゃんの座ったテーブルには他に5人くらいの人がいて、ある人はよく話せるのだけど耳が遠い。ある人はよく聞こえるのだけど、鼻にチューブが入っていてよく話せなかったり。ある人は宙を見たままだったり。正直なところ、初対面で色々な状態の人たちに囲まれ萎縮していた私。必死にそれを顔に見せないようにしていました。おばあちゃんも最初は尻込みしていたものの、気を決したのか自分から自己紹介をし、皆に話しかけていっていました。そこがおばあちゃんのすごいところです。いつでもどこでも友達を作ります。

ローレンと私は食堂が見える、ラウンジエリアに座ってテレビを見る振りをしながら、おばあちゃんの様子を観察していました。夕飯はなかなかおいしかったようです。

夕食の後は、おばあちゃんは寝付くまで私たちに帰ってほしくなかったようで、私たちはおばあちゃんが寝付くのを見届けてから家路につきました。これまでの病院での波乱万丈だった入院生活と、これからの老人ホームでの生活に想いを馳せて、どうなっていくことやら思いつつ。

ローレンとローレンのお母さんと私は、疲労困憊って感じでした。泥のように寝た私たちでありました。

4 comments:

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) said...

Hi! I am a friend of Bree and I came across your blog 「あかりの日記」through her. I am also a student of Japanese, and your posts help me not only improve my Japanese reading ability but also my understanding of Japanese culture. So I hope you don't mind me reading your posts from time to time. I hope ローレンのお母さん is settling in her new home well.

Akari Ueoka 上岡安佳里 said...

Hello Bruce, Thank you very much for visiting and leaving a comment on my blog. As you can tell, my English is not that great yet (it should be by now, though), so if you find any obvious error, please point it out for me if your time allows. I greatly appreciate. I am glad that my blog is helping you to improve your Japanese language and understand about Japanese culture. Sometimes, I write Japanese in a casual way, and since I do not speak Japanese here on Maui, my Japanese is getting strange. I want to keep my 'mother tongue' as clean as I can. I do not mind at all that you read my blog time to time. Please visit anytime you like. Thank you also for wishing that Loren's Grandma (not mom) is getting used to the new place. Take care and talk to you soon. Akari

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) said...

Thank you, and thanks for pointing out my confusion between おばさん and お母さん. Of course, I realized this mistake right away when I read your reply. It just shows how much practice we need at any language. My Japanese is still very limited, but at least I can read the kanji (from my knowledge of Chinese).

Akari Ueoka 上岡安佳里 said...

Thank you for posting a comment again. I think that language was not only the reason you got confused about おばあさん and お母さん. It was quit common that people thought we were taking care of my boyfriend's mom instead of grandma. Maybe because it is not so common that a grandchild takes care of a grandparent. (It's skipping one generation in between.)

It is amazing to me that you can read kanji because learning kanji is such a difficult aspect of learning Japanese or Chinese language. Even though I grew up in Japan, learning kanji from the early age, it is till difficult for me to know all the kanji, so I admire your effort and accomplishment. Thank you.