When Trudy Skidnook moved to long-term care at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre (EGCCC) 10 years ago, she relied on her mother's help to adjust to her new surroundings.
Prior to long-term care, Trudy's multiple sclerosis (MS) had kept her housebound for three years. At the time, Trudy lived with her mother, Helen, 81, who could no longer continue caring for her daughter. Home care was visiting every day to provide support but it was determined Trudy needed more help.
However, Trudy, who was 44 at the time, was resistant to moving to the Edmonton General. She wanted to stay at home with her mother and older brother, Rodney. The transition was tough.
“At the beginning, it was very hard. I just wanted to go home. I was scared and nervous. I didn’t know what it would be like,” says Trudy .
“It was a difficult year for my mom and me to have to come every time to talk to her. She wasn’t accepting it in her first year. It was different for her,” adds Beryl Keller, Trudy’s sister.
Trudy depended on communicating with her mother every day to get her through the day. It was the support from her family and the EGCCC staff that helped her accept her surroundings.
“It took her over a year to adjust to her settings to accept that this is her new home. She has her freedom to do whatever she wants. None of us can tell her what to do anymore,” says Beryl.
“My mother has provided a lot of support to her by giving her guidance and advice.”
Ten years later, the tables have turned because Helen, 91, needs this type of support after moving into the EGCCC this past year. Her mother, who has hearing loss and dementia, also did not want to leave her home for long-term care.
“Her wish was to stay at home as long as she could. Her home is her comfort zone. It’s her security,” says Beryl.
Trudy, 54, visits Helen, who lives on the floor below her, several times a day.
“I am excited because I get to see her rather than talking to her on the phone. I love to be with her. I like to check on her to make sure she is OK. It makes me feel good to see her. I just don’t want her to be alone,” says Trudy.
Trudy didn’t expect her mother to be in long-term care with her, says Beryl. "It’s a bit of a surprise for all of us. It warms her heart that she is able to spend more time with my mom than she did before. She was only seeing her once a week. Now she sees her every day. It helps them both emotionally.”
The mother and daughter get added support from Rodney. “He comes every day to help our mother during meal times. I appreciate his support,” says Trudy.
The adjustment to living in long-term care has its challenges, says Aimee Bourgoin, Nurse Practitioner and Program Manager at the EGCCC.
“In many situations, long-term care is a person’s final home. In Trudy's and Helen’s cases, each has had an adjustment to make. What is most helpful for Helen is that Trudy is already here and has already made the EGCCC her home. Trudy knows the ropes and can help Helen settle in. We have learned in working with families that, where moving in is concerned, relationships make the difference in making the transition a success,” adds Aimee.
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