Posted by: silverstar98121 | March 3, 2009

At the Retirement Home

When I first booked the trip to Colorado, I was going to stay at a guest room at my Dad’s retirement home. When he subsequently died, and I went to the funeral, the room was still booked, and it seemed just as well for me to stay there. Heaven knows staying at the hotel my sibs were staying at was way more togetherness than I felt necessary.

And so it was that I had a room at the Retirement Home. They fix up the guest rooms like a hotel, complete with the little basket of toiletries, a basket of snacks, and some drinks in the refrigerator. You also get a complimentary paper every morning. If I’d realized the Rocky Mountain news was going to close 10 days after I left, I would have brought them home for souveniers.

But, there were problems. For one, they put me in a room on a floor that they were in the midst of remodeling. Part of the remodeling was that they had stripped the carpet up, and there was bare concrete. and the concrete needed to be patched. And thus I found myself trapped in my room for a couple of hours while the concrete dried for a couple of days. The last day, I couldn’t go down the back elevator because it was blocked.

I don’t know what architect planned this building, but he should have been shot at dawn. You should not build a building for old people that has regular size doors and teeny, tiny elevators. It’s hard to get walkers and wheelchairs through the doors and elevators. The front elevator was smaller than the back elevator, such that electric wheelchairs and scooters were forbidden from using it. Well, I broke the rule and used the front elevator for my last trip, because the back elevator was closed off. And then I knew why they had the rule. I got stuck in the mofo, and had a panic attack before I could get out. But my ride was coming, and I needed to be there.

Back home, in my building  which was built for elderly and disabled people, we have 36 inch doors and huge elevators, with benches in the back to sit on. No panic attacks here.

Oh, Dad’s place was charming and elegant, and it had a lovely dining room, exercise room, and other amenities, but that doesn’t make up for the doors and elevators.  And because they serve three meals in the common dining room, there are certain times you don’t want to be in the hallways, either. I call it the “parade of walkers and wheelchairs.” As you might guess from the doors, the corridors are  also not built for two walkers or wheelchairs abreast. It’s a tight fit. One wrong move, and you are in trouble. Which is what happened to me the first day I was there when I was leaving to go to lunch with my sister. Not only was I inexperienced with the wheelchair, but now I had to deal with the parade, and with all the people who wanted to pet Friday. And then Dad’s wheelchair did one of its “drive wheel sticking” thingies, and instead of going forward, it started to go in a circle. I couldn’t stop it, and I ran over a little old lady’s foot and knocked her down. I wanted to crawl in a hole right there. Of course, at the time I chalked it up to inexperience, but I can see what happened now.

I ate out with my siblings until after Sunday, so didn’t go to the dining room. Monday morning there was bad news. There was a norovirus outbreak, and the dining room was closed. Which sent my plans to lunch with Dad’s lady friend out the window. The resident’s were served meals in their rooms. Which is why I was woken at some ungodly hour on Tuesday by an aide bringing breakfast to my room. I had to shoo her away, telling her I wasn’t a resident, and didn’t want breakfast. No way was I taking a chance on the food. Anyway, my room didn’t come with meals. And I didn’t want to catch it and have to deal with it on the way home, spreading it to a whole airliner of people, or delaying my return home.

I had gotten caught in a norovirus epidemic when I worked at a nursing home, and didn’t want a repeat of it. The vomiting and diarrhea are bad enough, but at the time I had untreated severe sleep apnea, and was exhausted by that and the fact that I’d had to work unexpected shifts over the Christmas holiday. And the the Director of Nurses wanted me to come in and work while I was still sick. Ummm, no, just no. The place was 20 miles away, and I wasn’t sure I could get there before something unfortunate happened, among other reasons.

Nurses should know better, infection control and all that. Indeed, I would have been forbidden from coming to work for two days after all symptoms stopped at Dad’s place. And probably at that place, since all the cruise ship outbreaks. But nursing is given short shrift in hospitals and nursing home budgets, which is why they have their middle managers working on the floor to save overtime or rent-a-nurse costs. Penny wise, pound foolish. Because then you have dedicated, intelligent people like me tell you to take this job and shove it.  I know, TMI.


  1. Whaaaaa! Sounds like I *never* want to go to a nursing home if I can afford not to! Glad you got back in one piece norovirus free. Sorry to hear about your dad’s passing.


  2. At least the little old gal didn’t break a hip – consider it her “reflex enhancement therapy”…

    • That’s what I was afraid of, Daisy Fae, that she’d end up with a broken hip or something.

  3. *Whew!* Home again at last, eh?

  4. As I’m discovering watching my dad maneuver in his wheelchair, dexterity is required! I’m constantly impressed that people in wheelchairs manage as well as they do.

  5. I couldn’t stop it, and I ran over a little old lady’s foot and knocked her down.

    I laughed out loud at this. Am I going to hell?

  6. I’m going to repeat what Rob said, I laughed out loud. God help me.

    Yeah, going to work sick is bad, but going to work sick in a hospital or nursing home could be deadly.

    • I probably should have been on sick leave myself, but the Powers That Be had let the staffing get so low I couldn’t go on sick leave. Idiots. Not that I didn’t warn them that if they let it stay low, it would get even worse over the holidays. Double idiots.

  7. those lifts and corridors sound just like the gimcrack’s. ours is not a purpose built facility – it used to be a hotel

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