Moving. There is nothing easy about it. It’s especially difficult when the person who has to move, doesn’t want to.
After Mom’s diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment and more than a year of knowing Mom required more help, our family knew she needed to move. She didn’t like having an in-home caregiver and we didn’t live close enough to keep an eye on her situation. We thought that the solution was to find an assisted living facility that was impressive, beautiful and included all the fancy amenities imaginable. Mom would be safe, well cared for and happy.
We located an assisted living facility that was lovely. It was right on a golf course. There was a lobby with enormous fresh flowers, a concert hall, a movie room, and a dining room with white tablecloths. Her room had a patio. Lots of light. We brought her furniture from home so she would have her own things. It all made sense, at least to us. The staff was willing to do anything to make her move a good experience.
Mom was miserable. She got increasingly unhappy, anxious and depressed. She thought people were stealing from her. The staff would regularly administer her medications, and then she would march down to the nurse’s office to complain that she had not been given her pills. She asked why she was in a place with “crazies” and asked why she was living with people who needed walkers. She called me multiple times a day to “get me out of this place!” What I was learning was that these behaviors were all characteristic of her Alzheimer’s disease. They would have an ebb and flow, and would resurface periodically during her disease process.
It didn’t take us long to conclude that our grand idea wasn’t working. Most of the other residents were only in need of general living assistance and did not have dementia. She was closer to our home and my brother’s families, but still not close enough. Maybe we shouldn’t have focused so much on how beautiful everything looked.
We did a few things right but after several months, we took what we learned and moved on. We were right to know she needed help and wasn’t safe to live in her own home by herself. There are assisted living choices out there such as those with more of an emphasis on memory care, or smaller residential care homes with only a few residents. Some facilities even allow pets. We weren’t exactly sure what she needed but we did know that this particular place wasn’t a fit. We needed to do a little more homework.
The movers returned to pick up her belongings and we had everything put in storage until we figured out what was next. At least we were moving in the right direction, so to speak.
(Next blog, Moving Again: part 2 of 3.)
Suggestion: Dementia is progressive and won’t improve with time, so finding a place that will also be good in the future is important to consider. People with Alzheimer’s find moves very upsetting, so the fewer moves the better. A Google search of Assisted Living Facilities is helpful, or use one of the following sources:
A Place for Mom: Found at aplaceformom.com. This site has a source list for almost every state and a checklist of important considerations that can help you in your search.
Senior Living: Found at Seniorliving.org. This site has a lot of good information about Alzheimer’s along with a search bar for the city and state you are looking in.