We recently moved my mom into her third “home” since my father passed away last January. We didn’t really know what to do with her as my father had been taking care of her very much on his own. She came to us with her suitcase (as they had been on a trip) containing her medications and some clothes. My father left pretty detailed instructions about where to find everything we might need to deal with their finances, but my mom came with no instructions. We had not really heard her speak much in more than a year and most of the time we visited, she was sleeping.
So, feeling overwhelmed by her gazillion (as my daughter would say) different medications and supplements, we found a place as quickly as we could.
Home #1: I thought of it as a cruise ship that didn’t move. Beautiful, nice pool, excellent dining, workout room, and on-site hair dresser. They had outings to various places and the activities staff, like a cruise ship, were energetic and engaging. My mom came out of her shell and enjoyed herself there, making friends and finding opportunities to show off her dancing skills.
Trouble arose, however, in the form of the independent living population. When mom saw their apartments, she wondered why she didn’t have a kitchen or washing machine or balcony. She was also very convincing in her conversations and people thought what she was saying was absolutely true. I received a call one day from a realtor in Florida that was given my number by a resident because my mom wanted to sell her house in Florida. That would have been great, but my mom had no house in Florida!
The assisted living residents were good company for her, often providing comic relief. Dinner time was always fun when the food came and no one remembered ordering what they did and the food shuffled around the table. One lady told a story of saying how she loved her V8, only her V8 meant 8 ounces of vodka!
Ultimately, between my mom’s lack of understanding of why she wasn’t in independent living and her ability to go outside the facility and walk around (even in the dark) without anyone knowing, led us to find another place.
Home #2: So, after about 7 months, we moved our mom to a smaller facility that had assisted living and a memory care area that was open to the whole facility. We were assured that she could be here for the long haul. It was a secure facility and they were well trained to work with people with dementia. From very early on, we saw that this was not the case. Interactions with my mom left her agitated and she quickly built a distrust for the staff there. This agitation grew and, in the end, she forced herself out of the building and became so verbally aggressive that they gave her very strong medication that she will probably never recover from.
Home #3: She is now, since two weeks ago, in a place that is only memory care. It is a nice size, has a great ratio of staff to residents, nice walking paths and educated staff.
Each move has taken its toll and we’ve lost more of her each time, but she is in a safe place and hopefully she will find some sort of contentment.