“…What is this place? A boarding house???…”

Well, we did it. We moved my mom into a memory care home, or an assisted living home. We planned it so well. Ha-Ha-Ha! The idea was to have mom hang out with our grandchildren, and let them wear her out for the day, while we packed her up and moved her stuff into the AL home. (AL = Assisted Living). Because of scheduling conflicts, my son could not pick her up until after 2pm. But it worked out for the best, because I got mom to bathe. It was hell on wheels because she did not want to use the new bench we got her for the shower. We argued and argued, but I finally told her the doctor wanted us to get it for her, and we were all worried she would fall. Once we got her in there, she did well and enjoyed being able to sit while we sponge bathed her. When she tried to stand, she could not get up and clung to the chair, telling me how much she loved having it there for the support. Alzheimer’s is weird. It is so interesting to see how the brain rationalizes the parts that are missing and don’t compute.

That is a photo of mom’s new room. It is gorgeous. So much light – windows are on two walls – and it is so bright and pretty. We hauled all of her clothing up to her room, and we put everything away in the closet and drawers. I brought her bedding and made up the bed with things that were familiar to her. We arranged all her photos. I placed all her things in the bathroom (she got the master suite with its own bathroom and walk-in-closet) and on the dresser, so she would see her things right away. We then went to meet mom and our son for dinner. The “best laid plans,” as the saying goes. Ha-Ha-Ha.

Mom can be quite fun – and nice – when she is in the mood. And I guess the grandkids wore her out. Our son said she had a great time and they all enjoyed her company. We met at one of our favorite restaurants – and it is Greek and Italian. Yum! We had grape leaves for an appetizer with tzatziki sauce for dipping. My eggplant parmesan was so good! Dinner was nice, and we had a chance to sit and chat. Mom had difficulty eating her pasta, but she was happy. And tired. She asked us if we were taking her home and we said we were. As we walked out, she looks at my husband and says, “I don’t have any of my things at your place, do I?” He assured her she did not, and we chuckled at the fact we had just moved all of her things out! LOL! And she had no idea.

We loaded Mom into the car, in freezing, snowy weather, and drove her to her new home. She walked in like she had been there before, lying her way through (she does that to cover for things she cannot remember) saying how nice it was to see the gal working that night, how she missed her, etc. Then she looked around and said, “Where am I?” We told her she was home. She insisted she had never been there before. I handed her a key on one of those stretchy plastic bracelets and said, “This is now your home.” She looked at me and asked, “What is this place? A boarding house?” And I explained it was an Assisted Living home and she yelled, “I don’t need one of those places!” And it started to ramp up in intensity from there. I suggested we go upstairs to see her room. She said, “No. I do not live here and I will not live here.” We finally convinced her to ride the chair lift to the 2nd floor and she did. We walked her into her room and she saw all her things and got really, really, pissed off. “How dare you! You are very presumptuous to make decisions about my life without consulting me. I WILL NOT STAY HERE. I WILL NOT!” And she looked at me, with so much anger. The owner called and said that it would be better if we just left. And it was the hardest thing I have ever done. Hubby hugged her and told her he loved her. She was as stiff as a board and did not hug him back. I placed my hands on her shoulders and said, “Mom; I love you. And I hope you can learn to love it here. I will see you soon.” And then walked out. As I was making my way down the stairs, she was yelling, “How can you do this to me? I WILL NOT STAY HERE. I WILL NOT!” And then she started bawling. I put on my snow boots and jacket and walked out to her crying. It almost killed me.

The owner started texting me as we were making our way home in the snowy night. She said that mom had calmed down after I left. She was saying how beautiful her room was. The aide helped her into her pjs and mom was telling her, “I like toast and fruit for breakfast; I am a very light eater.” And then she went to bed. The owner texted me yesterday and said mom was enjoying the home, saying repeatedly how beautiful her room was and how beautiful the home was. She sat with the aide and one of the other ladies all day. She then said mom was going up and down on the chair lift, looking at her things in her room, and was being funny and sweet to everyone. The owner asked her if she would like a nice chair in her room. Mom said that she would like that, and so the owner told her they would bring up a nice chair and little table for her, so she could sit in her room and enjoy the views. She said mom was fitting in just fine and to relax. She also assured me that we had nothing to worry about, and that she would stay in contact with me every day, until we were both content that mom was happily adjusting. It really is like sending a toddler off to school for the first time. I barely slept that first night.

And you know, it is so hard to think mom is not here. I keep expecting her to walk into the living room. Her pills and cups are not in the kitchen. The bathroom doesn’t have appliances in it anymore. It is so quiet. And it feels like one of my kids moved out. But I also realized the tension level in the house has greatly diminished. My husband and I went out yesterday (even though there were so many travel advisories because of bad weather) and attended a dog show and then went to brunch – just the two of us. It was lovely. Weird to be alone, but so nice, too. We have missed our couple time, a lot.

I am looking forward to spending time with my hubby….we miss that. It is amazing how isolating being a caregiver truly is. We have not had time to spend together, let alone with friends. As the disease progressed, it made it harder for us to socialize. Mom does not do well with a lot of stimulation – it really wears her out. So we became more and more isolated at home. When we did take her with us, she would talk to everyone and anyone. She is very social. But the next day would be rough – she would be cranky and very tired, napping her day away. And so we ventured out less and less.

I am prayerful she will get the care she needs (the home has round-the-clock aides) and find some peace. Her health is my concern and I think she will allow professionals to care for her without such a struggle and all the fighting, and I can return to being her daughter. I can visit her from time to time, maybe doing lunch and mom/daughter things. I miss being a daughter.

6 thoughts on ““…What is this place? A boarding house???…”

  1. I really enjoy reading your blog, Missy Jan. It has helped me know ‘where you are’ in this journey & I felt such a sweet peace after this post. God always knows what is best and He has been gently leading to this place in His time. Her room looks lovely and cheerful and with the care you took to surround her with her things and especially the comfy bedding she’s used to…what a lot of thoughtfulness & kindness & love you poured into her room for her. Now to not feel guilty & ruin the new lease on life that God has gifted you with. I’m happy for you & Ed…ya’ll are like newlyweds again, eh? 🙂 Lots of love to you, dear friend!

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