The picture (right) on today’s Straits Times’ website about life in a nursing home reminds me of what three friends and I discussed over a scrumptious dinner (black pepper crab spahgetti, pumpkin soup followed by coffee) at Cedele @ Wheelock Place last nite hosted by JL3. (I have at least four friends with the initials JL).
Actually, our animated get-together hadn’t intended to focus on nursing homes but it so happened that JL — my regular benefactor to high-brow events — was interested in visiting a property owned by JL4 (my old school mate who wasn’t present at last nite’s feast), that’s a hop, skip and jump from where I live.
JL’s interest is due to the fact that she believed her octogenarian mum grew up in one of the houses in that cluster of pre-war homes next to Balmoral Plaza. She wanted to take her mother there as a sort of trip down memory lane.
But I pointed out that part of that cluster has been converted recently into a step-down care outfit, with capacity for 22 patients. It’s called the Good Shepherd Loft and “your mum”, I cautioned, “might get the wrong idea, if you take her there for a visit”.
JL took the cue, especially after I mentioned that an ex-classmate of mine had sent her 95 year old mum there recently to recuperate after a fall.
Since I’m living so nearby, I dropped in to see the old woman once and found the lodge pleasant, the care-givers kind and the two Catholic doctors who run the place friendly and involved. In fact the male doctor sat among the patients while dinner was being served. And the food (above) looked tasty and freshly home-cooked.
Following my “dampener”, JL asked: “Would you send your mum to a nursing home?” For her and JL3, it was a clear no but then their mothers aren’t anywhere near dependent yet. JL3’s mum goes out on her own and makes dinner. JL’s mum travels to Europe every year, including 2011 and still manages to cook too, though she was also in her late 80s.
For the other friend at our dinner, AE, the question is moot. Her mum went to heaven 20 years ago.
My own take? Never say never, even though the plan and the firm intention is to keep one’s mum close by one’s side, especially since we have been sharing a home for close on 30 years.
My mother is still doing fine with the support of her maid and is happy and healthy enough. A recently acquired wheelchair has allowed us to go out more often to eat — as her wobbly gait had made it be4 the wheel-chair excrutiating for by-standers to watch. Food alas is the only true joy that’s accessible to mum nowadays.
Still my cautious stand against making a firm promise never to abandon my surviving parent to third party care was reinforced today after a quick visit to a public assistance case who has been warded in Tan Tock Seng Hospital for a few days and may have to remain there for several more days yet.
The octogenarian lives in a one-room HDB rental flat and survives on $400 of public assistance.per month He has no immediate family that I know of and has in recent years been plagued by ill health. Now he is seriously ill and hasn’t been able to swallow even water for several days. He awaits further medical tests and treatment.
If any of our mothers should be in this state but is subsequently pronounced well enough to go home — to tube feeds for the rest of their lives — are we so certain that we would keep beloved mum at home, even if there is constant maid support?
That’s why I hope that none of the three of us with mother still living will ever have our tenacity and determination tested by having to choose between turning our homes into a hospital ward for one or sending her to a nursing home. 😦