Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Family Fails at Inclusion

As I write this, I am sitting on the couch at my grandparent's apartment. Well, maybe I should start calling it my grandmama's apartment. It is grandfather's 89th birthday, and next Tuesday he is moving to a nursing home.

It's not exactly a sad occasion. In fact, things have almost worked out as well as expected. Grandfather had a stroke two years ago, and if it hadn't been for one geriatrician who, though extremely doubtful, gave him a chance at rehab, he would have been in a nursing home since then. 

It took him months, but he came home. He has been home ever since. My grandmama has been his primary caregiver, with a lot of assistance from my mother and my aunt. 
Now things are changing. Sadly, my aunt - a wonderful woman, a doctor, and a lifelong non-smoker - has been diagnosed with lung cancer and the surgery has been difficult. My mother has been torn in different directions: trying to assist with her ill sister, as well as her father. Grandfather is declining. I can see it. 

He is not going to the nursing home because he is 89. He is going to the nursing home because he has chosen to. The nursing home is in the same complex as Grandmama's apartment, so she can walk there. She can visit any time. He can come home any time. But it is less work for her. Honestly? I think this will be happier for everyone. I hope that doesn't make me a horrible person. I think Grandfather will be happier. I think Grandmama will be happier. I hope so, at least. They can spend quality time together, instead of focusing so much on care.

And the truth is, I think my family fails at inclusion.  Maybe we are in denial, but as Grandfather sits in his chair, everyone else gets up it seems. Grandmama, Aunt and Mum go to the kitchen and they are generally just talking. The men go somewhere else as well. I am the only one who sits with Grandfather. I don't often have much to say. My life is not overly interesting. We both have aphasia as well, and seem to take it in turns as to has it worse. I try to talk about medicine Grandfather after all is a doctor (I will never say he was. He still deserves the title).

My family are great at caring for Grandfather. But when it comes down to the social side of inclusion, the fact is they downright fail: and I don't really know why. Maybe they don't understand how it feels. Maybe they want to talk about him, but the weird thing is that although Grandfather is now in a high care facility... I think we might do a better job on the inclusion than ever before...

What do you think?

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