To my son Tommy,
It is a very nice place. Very clean, decent decor, nice staff, etc..at $12,000 a month I suppose it should be. But the euphemism of it being a rehab center or even a nursing center is far from what I have seen. It is a nut house. It is caring for patients that are well beyond the level of your great grandfather when it comes to their state of dementia.
Yes, your Great Grandpa Leo forgets in the short term. He may tell you the same story in the same hour as if it is new. Around dusk he gets a bit more confused which many would say is the phenomenon known as sundowning. He may ask you more than once what day it is. Right now, he wakes up at this place and forgets where he is and why he is there and what he must do to get home (eat well, walk, etc). Perhaps he needs this specialized care because of these things, but the atmosphere created by the other patients is scary.
I know I am not being politically correct or forgiving or understanding, but some of these patients are out there. The yelling, most of it unintelligible, is constant and consistent. Occasionally I could make out a curse word or the N word or some other crap that was filled with venom and spite. I guess the anger comes from not being able to be understood. I have only visited a couple times in the past couple days but if I had to stay there the night, I would definitely stay up all night barring the door. I am a grown man with (despite what some would say) all my faculties about me and I got cornered by a few of the more irate patients and felt scared. I felt like Adam Sandler first dealing with the "mister mister" lady while bringing his grandmother to a nursing home in the movie Happy Gilmore.
Your great grandfather still has a sense of humor about things. Your great grandfather was wheeled out in the sitting area the other day because he has to sit up three times a day. He sat there nodding off pretty much every minute. One of the more vocal residents was screaming unintelligibly in the halls. Your great grandfather would stir, come to a bit, look up and respond to the other patients rant by saying to us "I agree" of course not knowing anything that lady said but figuring they must be on the same side if they both are upset about being there.
But even in such a chaotic place, you can find love. When I was there the other day with Nanna Jeanne, and she bent down and kissed his forehead to say goodbye for the day, Great Grandpa Leo looked up with almost an apologetic look on his face, as if to say he is sorry to have to put everyone through this, and sighed a heavy sighed and said "I love you girl" He said it with such relief and conviction as if that is the one thing that he will always remain crystal clear on in his lifetime.
Sincerely with love from your dad,