Here we were, our hopes popping like a fragile bubble. It only took one sentence.
"I don't want to leave my mother".
We were hoping, so hoping, that my developmentally disabled brother in law, "Bil", could find a housing placement before the time (not too distant, we feel) that his mother will no longer be able to care for him.
When you are young, time stretches before you like an endless highway. Now, in my 60's, it seems like a rapidly revolving roll of toilet paper reaching its end. Bil is only about six years behind me.
Earlier this week, "Bil" and some of us toured the three types of housing that would be available in our community with someone who has Bil's disabilities. He has expressed interest in living away from his mother. In a day program he has been in for two years, he has made strides towards being his own person.
I feel I should explain a little more about these housing opportunities.
"Supportive" housing actually gives the least support. Bil would need to be almost fully independent, able to cook and shop for himself. He is not there yet - he is afraid to use a stove, and has done very little food preparation in the past. And we have found that he will not do basic chores needed for independent living without prompting. In this placement, there would be no prompting, and no staff on premises.
"Supervisory" is the next level, and the one that Bil decided he would be the most interested in. In supervisory housing, there are a couple of full time staff on premises, ready to help with any kind of emergency. Other than that, the residents are expected to be somewhat independent. Bil would have his own room, share a bathroom, and share a common living room space, all within a large house housing six men and nine women.
The home we saw was spacious and clean.
Finally, "IRA" or what used to be called group homes, is the most restrictive. We agreed this was not suitable; that Bil's level of functioning called for a more independent type of housing (but not as independent as the supportive apartment). In fact, the one we saw seemed to be more of an assisted living facility geared to people with physical frailness. That is not Bil.
As we toured, Bil said he doesn't want to leave his mother, who is nearly 90. He is worried about her and her physical decline. But, that shouldn't be his worry, and we've told him before that her well being is on our "worry plates" not his.
So this is an addition to our "worry plate".
So we asked what would happen if Bil tried the supportive housing. When I asked "what happens if he doesn't succeed?" it sounded like they were tip toeing around the truth. Finally, one gentleman said "he might be returned to his mother's apartment". In truth, if he turns down the placement, he goes to the bottom of the list. And it is a very long list.
And his mother's reaction to the possibility of Bil living apart from her (although he would be about five minutes away)?
Needless to say, she was not happy. She does not support him in this.
Her years of independence have also been ephemeral. Now, she falls constantly (one fall and one slip since June). She won't let go of Bil. But if something happens to her - then what happens to Bil?
She has to let go. She has to make Bil comfortable in his decision so he can keep growing as a person.
But life is a series of ups and downs. Perhaps another up is just around the corner. Perhaps this setback is ephemeral, lasting for a very short time.
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