The fugitives from South Hampton Place (skilled-nursing) are back home in our newly appointed memory care quarters. But our good ship Provincial Living at Columbia is still a work in progress: painting, carpeting, and a new waffle maker.
We can look across the barriers, through the empty dinning hall, and out the windows to see trees budding out. Spring has come three weeks early. It will be another three weeks before the dining hall will fill with over a 110 people (less those in memory care).
Adjusting to our return has been interesting. One of the first things the caregivers noticed was that after a week, clothes began to fit properly. Part of the weight lost over “two months, one week, and one day” has been regained.
My wife seemed thrilled to be back and especially to see her favorite caretakers; those individuals she had bonded with over the past year. Her time of getting everything together in the morning continued to migrate later in the day. Now it is noon.
Two days ago I got to see for the first time something I have been told about several times but have never seen myself. Up at noon. Out the door; without having to check, and recheck, a dozen things. Down the hall to the activity area to a “Home Instead” greeting. The smile. The grin. And the teasing. This repeated that evening at bedtime; including a real laugh with well-spoken words and sentences.
The planned switch of project and eating areas was made in memory care. This makes the eating area much larger with an enlarged second-kitchen area. There is now room for the 4-5 servers to work and exit from either end of an island counter that extends almost the full length of the west wall. There is ample space for residents using walkers and wheelchairs when 24 residents are here again.
I was surprised to learn that the number of residents had expanded from 90 to over 110 in our two-month absence. The building is quiet, very quiet. This is not the “happy place” at South Hampton Place where music, whistling, laughter and singing ring through the building. This is an apartment building with a noisy activity area that we are too far from to hear in our apartment.
It is so quiet that I did not hear the tornado siren that is about an unobstructed block away. I did hear the warning on my iPhone. It was louder than a lost child alert. I went back to sleep. A loud knock on the door at 11:30 woke us both up, “Tornado Warning.”
We pushed our two office chairs out into the hall. Everyone else in first floor memory care was already there sitting in chairs. Rain and hail were pounding on the window in our room as we left.
Our caregivers comforted individuals who were having problems with this event. “We are safe here.” “We are in Columbia.”
And, again the details. Do people seek shelter in their bathrooms where the door opens to the outside window in the room, or in the hallway, or the stairwells that are constructed of solid, tornado proof, concrete? In memory care, only a grouped area provides the environment needed for caretakers to function properly; in my opinion.
We spent much of the next 30 minutes discussing how to warn people in memory care. I had gone back to sleep. Many did not hear anything until a familiar voice said, “Time to get up.” [Please note that no reason need be given nor the time of day. Details just confuse.]
So what do we prepare for next: another flood, tornado, or a Madrid Fault earthquake? [The building rests on the sloping bank of settling clay soil on the east side valley wall of the County (Poor) House Branch of the Hinkson Creek. The footings therefore must extend to porous limestone.]
We all had our cell phones on. No radios or TVs.