About a month ago Irwin received a registered letter from the owners of Westhill Residence in Westend Montreal, informing us that the residence was closing as of October 31. Our mother, Ruth Block, had been living there for almost three years and at 102, was quite happy with the arrangement. She had become very accustomed to her caregivers, enjoyed her meals, and engaged in group activities such as bingo, and delighted when she won.
We had assumed our problems with caring for our mother were over and we could bask in the knowledge that she was safe and secure. We discussed COVID-19 protocols with Mario, the manager, and were relieved with the secure way that visiting was allowed.
At 102, Ruth is well aware of the pandemic, and reads about it every day in The Gazette.
Of course, we were shocked and dismayed at the prospect of having to find another residence and move Ruth but we knew that the sooner we could do that, the more relieved we would all be.
As she did with my mother and with Ruth when we chose Westhill, Bonnie Sandler, residence consultant, was the person we knew we could count on to make this move possible, even though we realized it was going to be anything but easy.
Bonnie suggest Beit Chai. We visited Beit Chai and liked what we say. Owner Sandy Beitel was friendly and approachable when she showed us her residence on Van Horne near Decarie, with its COVID-free sign in the window. We wore masks of course. We liked the idea of Ruth having a more Jewish atmosphere and the kind of food she hasn’t enjoyed in a few years.
After several twists and turns, Ruth moved in last Thursday, August 6.
And then the trouble began! Ruth was clearly not happy with the move and fearful that the new staff would not protect her when she walked with her walker. She complained about about almost everything and spoke rudely to the staff. On the one hand, we don’t blame Ruth. She has had her entire life turned upside down. On the other hand, the staff are having a rough time getting used to this feisty lady who still wants some control over her own life. After meeting with Sandy and Bonnie in the backyard of the residence, we came up with some solutions. I prepared sticky notes with reminders for Ruth, knowing that Ruth likes things written down. They read:
Be pleasant. Be patient.
Say thank you to your caregivers when they help you.
Appreciate the good in your life!
Be understanding of the caregivers and that they have to wear masks because of COVID-19.
Respect your caregivers and they will respect you.
Ruth said she understood all but one that read:
You cannot expect one-on-one attention.
She said she couldn’t accept that.
But we then showed her a card that read: You are part of a community!
And told her: “This is your new family.”
It seemed to sink in but we will have to visit in a couple of days and see how things are going.
Hopefully in a couple of weeks, life will improve for Ruth and her caregivers.
It’s nothing we ever expected to happen, this move. But this is our new reality.
And this wonderful 102-year-old woman will hopefully — with time, love, and understanding — adjust and be happy in her new home.