Counting down to our departure...

Trip Start Sep 13, 2012
Trip End Oct 07, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, October 4, 2012

(Wrote this a few days ago, but didn't get a chance to post it. We are home now and I will do a final entry soon.)

I've just returned from my week's trip to North Carolina on the East Coast of the USA. It's all a bit of a blur... it was a busy and challenging time in so many ways. It was sad to see my dad's declining physical and mental health - he was so good looking and vibrant as a young man - and so different now. But I'm confident that this last "chapter" of his life can be a comfortable and rewarding time if he will trust us to guide the process.

All of the care facilities we visited were lovely and clean and happy places. The staff appeared very warm and caring and affirming of all the residents. I'm confident that once my dad adjusts to the new environment he will find that his quality of life and independence will actually be BETTER than it is now. He will have more opportunity to make choices for himself and have more people to relate to than he has had for some time. He'll be able to travel in accessible vehicles and not struggle with getting in and out of cars... he will be a able to have his personal hygiene attended to more comfortably and with more dignity than at present... he will have trained nursing staff on hand on the touch of a button... he will be able to choose his meals (steak every day if he wants!), be provided with entertainment and constantly be checked on to make sure he has everything he needs. Sounds good, doesn't it? Of course, we know that even with all of these positive elements it will still be a time of coming to accept limitations and losses.

It will be hard for him to "let go" of his home of 43 years, the independence of driving, the proximity of family and old friends. We will attempt to bring as many personal items as we can to remind him of home and we are learning the joys of trans-continental Skype calls - they are coming to be a great way to catch up in a really personal way. We can't make any promises about driving, but the staff in several of the places we visited were able to observe his current physical limitations and told us that they were confident that physical therapy (which they can provide) will improve his mobility. Being able to walk safely and get out of a chair on his own will greatly enhance his quality of life.

Well, the plane is descending in the San Francisco now and I will shortly meet Max and our daughter Michelle in "the city by the bay". I'm not quite sure what the day will hold for me yet... I hear that Michelle and my niece are hoping to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, catch a Cable Car and go on a tour of Alcatraz! I've done all those things... but I'd like to try a Segway tour of Fisherman's Wharf. I'll finish this off later and let you know!

Got the Cable Car ride, but not the Segway... maybe "next time". Max and Michelle got to ride over the bridge and it was a perfect San Francisco day - unusually warm actually. It was a VERY long day for me as I didn't get home 'till after 7.30pm (10.30pm North Carolina time).
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