We moved my mom into the assisted living community today. All in all, it went very smoothly. We took Mom over in the morning with her clothes and personal items, met her roommate and spent about an hour with the nurse getting her care plan worked out. Then Mom stayed at the new place while we went back to get the furniture. It was all done by 5:00, so I was able to eat dinner with her in the dining hall and relax for a bit.
As I write this from the half-empty “old apartment” — surrounded by packing boxes, the only sound the hum of the central heating — I am grateful for so many things. I am grateful that Mom agreed to stay at the new place while we moved the furniture and that she agreed to go to the Ladies Tea just down the hall while we got everything moved in. By the time she got back, the furniture was in place and I’d even had time to make her bed. I am grateful for my mother’s easy-going nature and her ability to “let go and let God.” She doesn’t get freaked out about things, even something as major as this.
I am deeply grateful for her health… thankful beyond words that she is still Mom and hasn’t lost any of her essential nature, that she’s still active and engaged with the world. Her new roommate, Margie, is very frail and receiving hospice care. She has congestive heart failure and is legally blind as a result of macular degeneration. She spends about 80% of her time in bed, according to her son who was visiting when we first arrived. Talking to him, I got a tiny taste of how much worse it could be and how very lucky I am right now. He essentially told me that he’s been expecting his mother to die for the last three years — that every time she takes a turn for the worse, he braces himself and thinks “this could be it.” I don’t know how I would cope with a situation like that. Not well, I’m sure.
I’ve been seeing how much my mom has changed, seeing her increasing confusion and occasionally childlike behavior, her difficulty managing the daily tasks that used to be easy for her. After meeting Margie and looking around at the other residents in the dining hall, I had a shift in perspective. I watched the two old men at a nearby table, one slumped so low over the table that I thought he’d fallen asleep and the other dribbling food out of his mouth onto his bib. I watched a woman who didn’t look a day over 55 move at a snail’s pace with her walker. Compared to them, my mom is a spring chicken!
I love the nurse there, who took plenty of time with us to go over her medical history and assess her needs. I feel confident that she’s in good hands. And I was relieved that medication management and “stand by” shower assistance twice a week puts her at only Care Level 1, which is very affordable. I suspect that with the right care and daily socialization to keep her mentally stimulated and emotionally engaged, we’re going to see a change for the better. I think she’s going to thrive in this environment.
It was hard to leave her for her first night in a strange place. I dawdled getting ready to go, kept giving her one more hug… until she finally laughed and said “You don’t have to babysit me!” Although the roommate situation isn’t ideal (the bathroom especially is not well designed for two people), I’m glad to know that she’s not alone in an empty, silent apartment tonight. She’ll probably sleep better there than I will here. At least that’s my hope.