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Working at moving out, Part 1

February 9, 2015
by Kathleen Mears
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Editor’s note: See part 2 here.

When Mindy* came to this facility three years ago, she had an open wound on the back of her neck that she scratched constantly, and it would not heal. It took the doctors and nurses a long time to find the right remedy to ease her itching and pain. But eventually, the wound healed.

CG (short for computer guy) came here more than two years ago, dealing with depression. He spends most of his day at his laptop in the dining room. He is a nice but quiet person who eagerly makes music CDs and movie DVDs for staff and residents.

Last year, CG completed a two-week trial work period successfully. He enjoyed getting out and working part-time. He used to be a contract worker on the line of an automobile manufacturing plant. He has been told he will not be able to return to that job since it is believed to be too stressful. Sometimes, however, that is all CG talks about.

When her wound healed, Mindy began to take walks outside by herself, sanctioned by her guardian and management. CG wanted to be able to get outside and get some exercise, too. When CG asked whether he could, he was allowed to walk with Mindy. They became walking buddies, and soon a romance bloomed.

Mindy sees a work development coach periodically and has applied for a few part-time jobs. She has done a two-week trial work assignment at a local thrift shop. She said working would allow her to get out of the facility three or four days a week and give her something to focus on.

A couple of nights after Mindy submitted a part-time job application, she was paged to the nurses’ station for a phone call. When she got to the phone, no one was on the line. Mindy kicked herself, believing she had missed a potential employer’s call.

Mindy and CG walk in good weather. Many days during winter, however, the weather does not cooperate. With the medication Mindy takes and with nothing exciting or more important to do, she spends a lot of time napping.

She and CG want to move out into the community. But with their mental and other health issues, placement is difficult. Although both were licensed drivers, neither has a license now. They would need to live where they could walk, take a bus or use paratransit to get to work, shopping, errands, etc.

Several months ago, CG looked at apartments online. But he decided a house would be better. When I saw the house online that CG was interested in, all I could think of was the maintenance it would require. The grass would need to be cut, and the snow shoveled, etc.


Look for Part 2 on Feb. 16.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...