My grandmother is a fit, active, healthy, vibrant and charismatic 86 year old. She has great taste in clothing, loves good food, is an avid walker and has short term memory like a sieve.
There was a window of opportunity this year that was closing…for her and my grandfather to move from their rural home of 56 years to Assisted Living. Go now and she might remember why and where she going or wait and have her forever confused. The time was now. In order to put the wheels in motion my mother who lives 5000 kms away arranged movers and began to mobilize a team. The most central person to this equation was Jenny, my grandmother’s respite worker.
Unfortunately the week of the move my grandfather came down with shingles and pneumonia and was admitted to hospital. This meant as we were flying across the country to help we had to mobilize and maximize our network fast. Sorting, packing, cleaning and moving a house of 56 years into 600 square feet is no small feat. Between hospital visits, trips to big box stores for new curtains, hangers and hardware my Mom, Dad and I packed and took turns taking on small jobs with grandmother. Jenny was able to provide us with extra hours to take my grandmother to the hospital while we set up the new place and cleared out the old. We hired a junk person to haul loads to the dump, we had the Salvation Army do several picks ups and my aunt scrubbed, cleaned and brought meals.
Yes, this was to tackle the job at hand (the move) but it was also all in an effort to ensure that my grandmother (and recovering grandfather) had the most stable network during this very stressful, emotional and confusing time. Our network took 20 different people over two weeks and included: hospital staff caring for my grandfather, Jenny (the beloved respite worker), Brenda (the veterans affairs cleaner), staff from a not-for-profit agency (Salvation Army to pick up usable household goods), several strong hired hands (for loads to the dump, lifting heavy items), three relatives, staff at the assisted living facility, my Dad, my Mom and me.
This was no crisis by any stretch of the matter but it was a huge transition marked by a few unexpected bumps along the way. We navigated the bumps by ensuring we had a network of helpers and that my grandmother was buffered as much as possible from all of the upheaval. While we packed, she visited the hospital — while we unpacked she helped stack cupboards. At the end of the day, the move happened, my grandfather was discharged from hospital and my grandparents have the security of their belongings in new safe environment – an environment that is beginning to seem familiar.
I find it interesting and yet perplexing that we often talk about health care crises as a catalyst for mobilizing our networks. I would suggest that we need our networks for so much than our health care crises. This is especially true for caregivers and persons with dementia who benefit from the stability and support of a strong and diversified network ALL the time. I believe our move experience illustrates not just the importance but also diversity of the network required to maintain some sense of stability. It is also an example of how a network can buffer a transition experience even with a few unexpected bumps. How about trying Tyze for your next big move?
Comments are closed.