Thursday, March 25, 2010

Railing about Railings

We have a little problem with the lovely double door entrance way at the front of our beautiful senior-friendly bungalow just outside of the big city: we can't use it.
When Grampa George moved in with us he settled in quite nicely. He'd been in hospital for some serious breathing difficulties that revealed water in the lungs as well as considerable enlargement of his heart among many other issues. Once he was back with us, feeling better and able to walk more than a few feet at a time, he developed this charming habit of wandering up and down the halls (no problem, good exercise!) then stopping at the front door, opening it nice and wide (a little fresh air is always good!), then raising his shirt to scratch his belly for a good three to five minutes, then backing it up and s-l-o-w-l-y closing the door again, fumbling with the lock to get it to close properly (good for him for being security conscious!) and once back indoors, wandering some more. Ten minutes later, he'd do it all again.
We all have our little habits, no biggie, but this simple situation was a problem. For one thing, our indoor only cats figured this was a great opportunity to see what was outside in the great beyond. The two older cats had never been much interested in leaving since the doors to outside were never open long enough for them to bother. Our recently rescued six month old kitten, appropriately named Rebel, thought this was an invitation to take off. No amount of discussion, notes on the door reminding everyone to keep it closed, even close calls with the cats or rising utility bills since Grampa George was heating the outdoors about eighteen to twenty times a day, did anything to curb this growing annoyance.
Then Nana started wandering which presented a whole new problem. Nana's wandering, due to her dementia, had her trying doors to different rooms as well as the front door, on her way to no where in particular. An early evening attempt to leave the house caused alarm bells to ring, both at the door and in our heads. It was time to deal with this issue head on.
My very own Super Man came to the rescue: he drilled a hole between the door frame and the door, slipping a good sized bolt into both holes to prevent the front door from being opened unless you know to remove it (no tools or key required in case of fire or other emergency). Since Grampa George and Nana are never left alone, this is safe. We now enter and exit the house using the side door that leads from the house into the garage, then open the garage door to get in and out.
Two little steps lead into the garage from the house. Those two steps were dangerous for our two favorite seniors even with a good strong caregiver to hang onto while navigating them. Super Man came to the rescue again by immediately installing two sturdy, and very nice looking railings, one on either side of the steps.
It's not quite as elegant as our pretty front entranceway, but much, much safer in so many ways. Grampa George is now able to look out the windows of the front doors, but must use the side/garage door to scratch his belly out of doors. And Nana can wander, but is not able to make her way out of the house all by herself. Problem solved, thanks in no small part to one Super Duper Man!

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