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Olga Dougherty


January 1, 2007: We Visit With Mom

Well, here we are in a new year, and Mom is pretty much the same as she was last year. Fred and I have come by the Bentley Manor to sit with Mom at lunch (as I often do by myself), and these pictures and movies just record how she was doing.

I took a few still pictures, and you can view the full-size images by clicking on the thumbnails below:

I made a movie of Mom having lunch; use the player at left to watch it.


March 31, 2007: A Visit With Mom

Today, Fred and I have stopped by the Bentley Manor to be with Mom at lunchtime. Fred hasn't seen her in a while, so he can get a first-hand experience of how slow and hesitant she is becoming.

Mom eating her Jell-O

I took only one picture today; it is of Mom at lunch.


November 19, 2007: Mom Moves to the Holden Hands Home


Mom's Situation

For some time now, Mom has been having difficulty eating by herself at the Bentley Manor. Some of the servers get her started, and a couple of other residents help her occasionally, but more often than not she has to fend for herself. Her mental acuity and coordination are not such that she can eat by herself, and the Bentley Manor does not offer the option of having one of the staff sit with her and help her eat.

So, for about two months now, I have been investigating "group homes." These are regular suburban homes that have been retrofitted for wheelchairs and such and which are staffed 24/7 by at least one caregiver. These homes will feed the residents when needed (which, with Mom, is all the time). Each resident has or shares a bedroom, and residents are not left to sit in their rooms all day, which is what Mom does now. I investigated two different companies that manage these kinds of homes. One, Lexington Place, manages six homes, one quite close to where Mom used to live by Central Expressway. The other, Holden Hands, manages three. They seemed quite similar. Lexington Place offered a space much closer than the Holden Hands home, but its cost was higher and Mom would have to share a bedroom. So, I chose one of the three homes run by Linda Richardson, the owner of Holden Hands.


The Holden Hands Home

If we begin by taking a look at where Mom's new house is relative to me, you can see that it is in North Dallas, between LBJ (I-635) and the Bush Freeway. I have also marked Mom's old residence- the Bentley Manor- on the map with a red triangle. You can see that the new house is half again as far away, but I can make much of the trip on the Tollway, which is faster than using Lemmon Avenue and Marsh Lane to get to her old place. All in all, the time is about a wash, although I would have to say that the new place is maybe five minutes longer than the old.

On this more detailed map, you can see that the home is in a neighborhood at the northeast corner of Hillcrest and Campbell. Hillcrest is the same street that Mom used to live near, so she is just about as far east of me as she was when she lived over by Central Expressway, but she is a good deal further north.

Mom's new home is on Gracefield Drive, just about a block north of Campbell. It is a nice suburban neighborhood; very quiet. Actually, and coincidentally, Mom lives two streets over from where Donnie Graff, Grant Wagner's cousin used to live when Grant was alive. I think Donnie moved back to Chicago some years ago, though.

In the aerial view, you can see Mom's house. It is a typical size for the neighborhood; about 2500 square feet, I would guess. It is easy to find the house as it is the only one on the street with a circular drive in front. The house has a living room, kitchen, dining room and inside sunporch where residents may watch TV. Then it has six bedrooms and three baths; one of the bathrooms has been enlarged to accommodate wheelchairs and a larger shower.

As I said, the neighborhood seems to be a nice one, and the house is certainly pleasant and spacious. Here, courtesy of Google Maps Street View is an outside picture of the house Mom is in now.


Inside Mom's New House

I've come today for my third visit since Mom moved here on the 14th, so she has been here just four or five days. But already I can tell that she is receiving much more one-on-one attention than she used to get. Often, if I arrive at lunch, I will find Georgiana or Sandy sitting beside Mom helping her eat, and sometimes, I'll take over that chore so long as I am there.

Take a look at the kitchen and dining room; Mom is sitting to the right and towards the kitchen. Here is a close-up picture of Mom ready for lunch.

Since lunch isn't quite ready yet, I'm going to walk around and take some pictures of the house. Right behind Mom and a bit to her left is the living room. It doesn't seem to be used much; I have never actually seen anyone sitting there. There is a piano and a fireplace, though, and it is a pleasant room. To the right of the living room as you are looking at it here is the TV area. You can see that there are basically two rows of recliners or overstuffed chairs, and I notice that the caregivers always help the ladies into one of the chairs should they wish to watch TV or just sit with everyone else. This is good, as getting Mom out of her wheelchair occasionally is a good idea. There is one lady that eats at a separate table in this area. Aside from the fact that I have noticed that she occasionally says things when no one is there, I am not sure why she is at a separate table- unless it is that the big dining table already has six ladies. There are eight ladies in the house, 7 who are there because of advanced age and one, who was gone with her family when I was there and who rarely comes out of her large bedroom, has advanced MS.

If you go back through the door on the far side of the living room, you'll find yourself in a hallway that runs behind the fireplace. There are two bedrooms to your left, then the large bathroom, and then Mom's bedroom. One of the reasons I've come by today is to bring the last of Mom's stuff that she will need while living here. We are trying her bed in the corner (although I can say now, since it is January, 2008 when this is being written, that the bed has been moved to stick out into the room underneath the window. This provided both Mom and the caregivers better access.

If you look back at the picture of the TV lounge, I can tell you that there is another large bedroom shared by two residents behind the wall the TV is against. And if you look at the dining room picture, I can tell you there are two bedrooms on the other side of the kitchen- one that is shared and one that is not. So, all in all, the house has space for eight residents.

Well, I've finished my picture taking for today and am back in the dining room. Lunch has been served and Mom is eating the things she can, and I'll help her with the chicken salad. Unlike the Bentley Manor, the evening meal is the large one here; lunch is usually sandwiches or a prepared salad along with cookies, chips and other finger foods. All the meals are prepared by the two caregivers who are present during the day, and one nice thing is that Mom doesn't fill up on Jell-O all the time, as they only have that maybe once or twice a week.

Mom isn't very aware anymore, but I am pretty sure she understands she's been moved. I hope she notices the additional help she is getting, and that this makes her feel better. I know I do.


December 6, 2007: Mom's 96th Birthday


It's Thursday, December 6th, and it is my mother's ninety-sixth birthday, so I have picked up a chocolate cake (her favorite, if she remembers) and have brought it and my camera up to her house to visit with her at lunchtime and then help her have some cake for dessert. Of course, I intend that all the ladies share the cake.

I arrived about eleven-thirty just as the ladies were sitting down to a lunch of sandwiches and chips and Jell-O. My Mom is OK with sandwiches and stuff that you can eat with your hands, although she is hesitant even then. It's the food you have to eat with a fork or spoon that is difficult for her. But today, since it's mostly finger food, I can spend some time taking pictures and movies.

Let's start off with a movie (player at left) of Mom working away at her sandwich (it was chicken salad, I think). You can watch her eating for a moment, and then continue to watch as I pan around the living room (note the Christmas tree) and the TV room and back to the dining table.

The actual pictures of my Mom having her lunch are unremarkable, so I have put thumbnails for them below; you can click on the thumbnails to view the full-size pictures:

Mom eats a good deal slower than most of the ladies, and when some of them had finished I thought I should go ahead and bring the cake out. So I took it into the kitchen, put the candles in it, and brought it back out to the table so everyone could sing "Happy Birthday" to my Mom and have a slice of her cake for their dessert.

A movie of these proceedings is at right.

I took a couple of additional photographs of Mom with her cake, and you can see those pictures here and here.

These were the last pictures I took of Mom this year. It has been a busy year for her with two hospital visits early in the year, her move to Gracefield Drive and her ninety-sixth birthday. Let's hope that next year is a bit calmer.

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