Dad was on the Board of Trustees of the United Methodist Retirement Homes when Croasdaile Village was built. We used to walk past the entrance to the memory care unit and he would point and say, “Don’t put me in that area.” Honestly, seeing the blank faces and apparent loss of dignity made me feel uncomfortable too.
Many years later we became aware of small signs that Dad was beginning to have memory issues. He would have trouble making decisions or ask the same question repeatedly. Following extended prodding and after a health crisis, he sold his home and moved to Croasdaile. Dad loved to walk, but macular degeneration, especially in bright sunlight, made walking more difficult. One day we got the call that he had fallen and been transported to the Duke Medical Center. While assessing the head trauma the doctors determined that Dad was suffering from cerebral amyloid angiopathy. This diagnosis explained much of his behavior and symptoms of dementia.
We witnessed the demise of his health as he moved to different areas of the community, each a step towards greater care. In each case we became acquainted with the caregivers. Each one has been gracious and kind. We have been able to sleep easy at night knowing he is safe.
Now we understand that we are at our last stop on his journey. The staff meets his every need with the utmost dignity. We can still get that wry smile from him from time to time. The staff can get him to sway to music. But most important, we have come to understand, by the frequency of our visits, that this facility is too a home, and the residents are more than blank stares. Just talk to them a while and the wry smile will surface.
We feel fortunate to have a top continuing care retirement community in our area. We are blessed by the dedicated professionals who have care of Dad along each stop of his stay there. We are thankful for their competence and their compassion. We appreciate their support, not just of my father, but also for me and the rest of the family.
Gary Milton Whaley