Hey, Brunswick County!

How have you been?

Like many of you, our holiday season has been a busy time with family and friends, some traveling, a bit more shopping, turning off the news, singing songs, eating too much, watching Hallmark Christmas movies, popping popcorn, decorating, retrieving Amazon boxes from the front porch, undecorating, and staying up too late talking to loved ones on the phone.

Whew! Kinda glad that's over and we can recover.

We did add one activity to our final week of 2020 and the first week of 2021. We took on the task of setting up Cindy's parents home as an assisted living facility.

We had known for some time that Cindy's wonderful parents, both in their mid-80's, were experiencing some of the common ailments associated with advanced years including dementia, instability, and reduced mobility. But, a week before Christmas, we got news that Cindy's mom had fallen and, for a variety of reasons, had laid on the bathroom floor for over 2 hours.

The 8 siblings met on an emergency Zoom call to discuss the situation. The family had already arranged for a “helper” to come into the home for a few hours a couple of days a week to clean the house, do laundry, make the beds, pick up the Walmart grocery order, and drive to barber appointments. Siblings who lived within 30 minutes had been driving Mom and Dad to doctors appointments and taking them out to eat occasionally. The oldest son had taken over the financial duties of paying bills and balancing the checkbook.

But, sometimes the point is reached where you fear the possibility of confused suffering or worse.

In that Zoom meeting, some siblings insisted that their parents should be admitted into a Nursing Home immediately. They had done the research, visited facilities, and worked out the numbers.

Others (who had had very little actual contact with the parents) suggested that everything was fine and proposed that a wait and see approach would be OK.

In the course of the conversation, when all had shared what they had seen, the composite picture demanded that something had to be done differently.

Because Cindy and I are still in a holding pattern, waiting for visas to Japan to fulfill our missionary assignment, we volunteered to fly out to Utah and stay with the folks for two weeks, to see if they would accept more help in their home and avoid institutionalization or living in the home of one of their children.

We left Lawrenceville on Christmas afternoon. We put on masks and wore them almost straight for 2 weeks. I thought I was used to wearing masks in the dental office after 35 years but wearing a mask during all waking hours for 14 days was tough.

The good news was that we were able to show them the benefits and they accepted additional help. They also accepted electronic fall alerts.

We had prepared ourselves to stay in Utah for up to 2 months if needed.

So, some take aways from living in an “assisted living center.”

1. The TV is always at damaging volume levels.

2. Meal eating takes about 3 times as long as I am accustomed to.

3. People get used to someone else doing the cooking, the laundry, the grocery shopping, and the driving … to the point where they confidently say, while sitting all day, “we don't need any help, we are completely self-sufficient!”

(It's kind of like a goldfish in the bowl saying “I'm providing for all my needs!” while ignoring the source of the fish flakes and the changes of water.)

Anyway, things are looking good now. And I believe they will stay good unless a medical problem occurs.

We came home determined to live a more healthy lifestyle.

I am determined to start that lifestyle after I finish the cheesecake in the fridge.

Well, I hope and pray that all oåf you have plenty of 'mask-free' time in your lives and that we are all Covid safe soon.

Hang in there, Brunswick County.