Up and Down and Up and Down

That’s how the days have been. One day it seems like everything goes into the toilet, the next hope returns. Today it’s the toilet.

The doctor issued a discharge for my mother today, with orders that she go to a skilled nursing facility for some rehab before she goes home. Not what I’d been hoping for. The only SNF she’d been in — and thus that we were familiar with — was the Forum, which has a five star Medicare rating but which she hated. I didn’t like it much either. It was dark, and seemed cramped, few windows, just creepy.

But we knew it and it had five stars, so we chose it. The case worker needed another option and suggested Villa Compana, which I recalled being on the list of places I’d looked into the night before but hadn’t brought with me. I thought I recalled it as having 2 stars, though admitted I could have been confusing it with another similarly named place that had gotten more. The c-w  was surprised by the two stars I quoted, but said yes, it had had it’s problems… she thought it was better now and often sent people over to it from the hospital. And no one had come back to complain to her. She suggested I go and look at it while we waited for some administrative stuff to be completed.

So I did. It had recently been renovated, and was beautiful. Wide, spacious bright hallways, clean smelling, brand new rooms with new furniture, TV’s for each person instead of one stuck in the middle of the semi-private room for both residents to share and best of all wide windows with a great view of the outside. There was also a spacious inner patio for residents to go out into.  I recalled my mother saying she really wanted to just sit on the patio under the blue sky and hear the birds.

I thought it was great. All the things the Forum wasn’t, it was. I thought she would like it. I went back to the hospital and said we’d go for that.

Then I went home and looked at my list. Not 2 stars. 1 star. One. Oh my. There was also an article on nursing home abuse associated with this facility. Granted the article was from 2005 and the rating seemed to have been given in 2009 so maybe things had improved. They were obviously trying to improve things… about then the representative called to say transportation had been arranged so I asked her about the 1 star. I told her I was quite freaked out by that. She was clearly uncomfortable on this subject. Yes, she knew about it, and assured me they were doing everything they could to improve on that. There’d been a shift of administrators  just last year. Plus they had something called an angel care program that I could use if I wasn’t satisfied. She asked me to give them a chance. I said okay and hung up.

Then I found a checklist of things to ask when you tour nursing homes, things I’d not even considered but that were very important — things like how do you handle residents who are incontinent? Do you ever use catheters to manage resident incontinence? How do you identify residents who are losing weight? How often do residents fall here, and what do you do when that happens? What is your fall prevention program? What is your nurse and nurse aid turnover? etc. All of which filled me with dismay…

 And then I found the medicare report itself. There were problems with medication dispensing among many other things, and the rating was not years old, but dated Jan 24, 2011. My misgivings mounted. Finally I came across a single review from a user. There were no good ones. Only this one, which said to stay away, it was a disaster and they had almost lost their mom there.

So that was the clincher for me. I drove back to the hospital, told the caseworker some of what I’d found, apologized for being so spacey, but asked her to stop the transportation order and instead try and get my mother into the Forum. She said she’d try, but it likely wouldn’t happen until tomorrow morning. I feel like an idiot. I feel guilty for bollixing everything up and causing my mother to have to stay in the hospital with her terrible roommate yet another night… and have to keep rebounding all that…

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…

I’ve learned a great deal about choosing a skilled nursing facility — most especially that I have a great deal more to learn. But with all the problems my mother has, I feel better about her being in the five star place than the 1 star (even if the latter does have new floors, furniture and great windows… ) Hopefully the transfer won’t be too terrible for her.

I feel like my brain is falling apart. Not remembering to bring the list of the SNF”s Mother’s insurance covers sand their ratings today… yesterday I forgot where I’d parked the car and wandered about the parking garage looking for it… also spent some time searching for my house keys only to discover they were in my hand…  the other day I forgot to lock the door to my mother’s house… etc.

And now I’m fighting off a new wave of guilt for sitting at home writing this blog post when I “should” be sitting in the hospital with my mother sharing her misery. But since she was asleep when we stopped in tonight, and I’ve already been over there two other times today, that’s probably not a valid source for self-flagellation.

10 thoughts on “Up and Down and Up and Down

  1. Dave

    praying that things work out, ma’am! hold on to that verse you quoted about no condemnation.

    Jesus, please come into this situation and bring peace, healing and comfort.

  2. Gregory Kurtz

    Ms. Hancock:

    I have read and re-ready your books. I even purchased the Kindle versions of the four in “Guardian King” series. I hope that my children are as dedicated and competent if I ever have to go to a Nursing Facility in my later years.

    You are doing the best you can. God knows of all of these events that you, and your mother, are going through. His arm is not too short, He hasn’t been caught by surprise, He isn’t punishing you or your mom. But you know that. You wrote about that. It is very hard to rest in what God is letting unfold, when we don’t know why. Suppose He told you. Would you feel better? I know I would – I’d know why. I know He’d have a good reason. But I already know His nature and character are good. So we don’t need to know why. Sometimes, I pretend that He told me. Then it is easier to live in His light and accept a difficult situation.

    I’m praying for you and your mother.

    Greg Kurtz

  3. KC Frantzen


    Karen, there is no telling what is going on with all this. Perhaps the hospital worker NEEDED to know this information for some reason. Yes, your Mom had to stay an extra night, but for some reason… it wasn’t the right timing to move her either.

    You ARE being a diligent daughter. Many, MANY people would not have kept these records, would not have asked the questions, would not have PRAYED about this situation. Yet you did.

    “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:13

    God loves your Mom even more (realllly???) than you do! He has provided the PERFECT place for her to be.

    Talk to the people at the Forum, and make sure they know your expectations and that you will be there often to tend to your Mom as well.

    “For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” Psalm 71:5

    Many of us are praying for you!


  4. kapatt

    My mother is 92 years old and lives next door to us. I know and understand what it means to be responsible for taking care of a parent. I have learned many things since my mother started living next to us.
    Sometimes we take on too much in our mind by expecting ourselves to be omniscient. We can’t be omniscient. God didn’t make us that way. Our job is to stay in fellowship and make the best decisions that we can make. God guides us when we are in fellowshp and will take care of the things that we don’t know.

    Sometimes we also try to become responsible for our parent’s happiness. We are not responsible for their happiness. They are responsible for their happiness by using God’s Word in their life.

    From reading you post, I believe that God wanted your mother at the Forums. He gave you resources so that you could figure out where the best place was for her to be. He has guided you and been with you and your mother from the beginning.

    Don’t worry about changing the plans with the caseworker. She is not your responsibility. Don’t worry about causing any problems with the hospital by having your mother stay overnight one more night. That was God’s plan. He knew in eternity past where your mother would be staying that night, even if you and the hospital didn’t know.

    Let yourself relaxe and let God take care of His part.

    I read these two verses on my prayer list the other day. They are great:

    Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

    Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

  5. Gayle Coble

    Karen, there is no problem that God puts before that the wisdom of His doctrines cannot handle. He is using you for His glory. He is using this situation for His glory. Yes, it is not easy. Where were we promised easy? We have been promised that He is faithful and never leaves us. We are not prefect, but He is…thankfully. Yes, there is the good, bad and the ugly. Yes, you want what is best for your mother. Yes, His provision is there for her by blessing by association. My prayers continue to go to His throne of grace for you and her at this difficult time.

  6. Loren Warnemuende

    Dear Karen,

    I remember one of my biggest struggles after my daughter died (and sometimes is still a struggle) was battling the “What ifs.” Thankfully God helped me realize early on that they were an attack from the enemy. When the “What ifs” started pouring in I had to mentally put on my boxing gloves and start beating them down. God was in control. He made the plan. He loved me and he loved Keren more than I ever could, so I could trust His plan.

    I know you know these truths; keep trusting Him like you’re doing!

    Praying for you!

  7. karenhancock

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Every one of them contained words of encouragement and refreshment that I needed to read and be reminded of. Again and again.

  8. Becky

    Walking it with you…..been there not that long ago….. My mom is only 73 and has dementia. When I started spending way too much time trying to run back and forth in between her place and mine, I knew it was time to find a place for her. The single-most hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Bar none. It’s a growing experience. Still is. Every day. The Lord knew in eternity past that our parents would get to this place in their lives and that we would be faced with finding the right place for them. Isn’t that wonderful? In eternity past He knew and He provided everything for them and us. Do we fail? Absolutely. But the Lord never fails. He is always faithful. You are doing a great job….. You were given this mission and you know Who has all the answers. We’re praying for you!!

  9. MsKathleen

    Keeping you and your mother in prayer. My hubby and I have been through similar situations with his parents and my Dad.

    Are you writing another book? I have read all your books, shared them, bought them for gifts, etc…

    You are an amazing writer!


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