I spent this past weekend in the Four Corners area of Colorado and New Mexico, visiting my 99-year-old father. He unfortunately took a fall in early January, and while his injury, a broken coccyx, would've been painful but relatively minor in a younger person, it set off a cascade of events that have affected him a great deal. After a short stay in the hospital, he was moved to a rehabilitation center that specializes in senior care. That is where he remains today.
He has been undergoing daily physical and occupational therapy attempting to restore some mobility and independence.
I must say that we are truly blessed. While this type of event could turn almost anyone sour, it has not done so for my father. He has remained positive and relatively upbeat the entire time. He has been determined to get better, and every time I have visited him, he tells me how nice the people are and how they are taking good care of him. The staff seems to reciprocate the feeling, calling him their “happy man.” A walk through the halls of this facility will give you an idea of why they might feel this way. There are people there with extremely stark challenges. In that environment, he is a standout.
My family and I will second his opinion of the staff in this center. They are terrific, and we have been very impressed with them as well. A shout out to the company that owns it would be very appropriate here, but for my desire to keep his location private at this time.
My father has been determined to get better, return home and resume the life he had prior to his fall. While my sisters and I have not shared his optimism on that front, we did not want to discourage him. Our goal has been to get him back into his home aided by appropriate home health care services. We've been very cognizant that, without a certain level of independent ability, the odds of him staying in a nursing home environment have been strong.
He has made progress. When he arrived at the rehab center, he could not stand. Today, he can walk about 100 steps with assistance. Still, time is running out. This weekend was particularly poignant, as he told me they have advised him they are close to reaching the end of their efforts; in industry parlance he will soon be at MMI. He relayed what they told him, and with a worried look said, “and I'm not ready yet.” That resulted in a somewhat somber conversation with him, discussing a future that was based in the reality of his current situation. He was disappointed and reflective, but not bitter. His positive demeanor remained largely intact.
And that is the takeaway. My father has always been a stubbornly independent soul, and I have frankly been surprised at how well he has dealt with this challenge in his life. His attitude not only facilitated some improvement, but it eased the burden of his family and caretakers during a very stressful time. It has made his own life easier and less stressful, as anger and bitterness would only suffocate him in that environment. He would be far worse off today if he were simply an antagonistic and unhappy old man.
Yes, a positive attitude has meant everything, even if it is not going to give him everything he desired. In the days to come it will hopefully help him adapt and accept the changes that are inevitable. His challenge now is to keep that positive outlook.
Everything after that will be much easier to accept.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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