This week has been one of the most stressful weeks I have had in a very long time. Monday we moved my mother into an assisted living facility. I told my husband today that a part of me feels as if I am grieving. I am still trying to verbalize it, but after over two years of taking care of my mom it is hard to let go of control of her well being and trust that she is safe.
Monday was probably one of the longest days of my life. We started early getting things together at mom’s apartment that she would need for her new room. As expected she was extremely agitated. I would try to get her to sit still and relax and she couldn’t. She would ask questions like, “When will I be back home” and “Am I allowed to leave here?”
We packed up all of the necessary things that she would need, some of her furniture and her animals and headed for her new home. On the way she kept asking where her keys were so she could get back home. She was totally and completely confused. Pulling up to the building she saw “Assisted Living & Memory Care” on the sign for the community. She said, “Assisted living… I’m not so sure about that, but I do need memory care.” Once we got inside she seemed happy and upbeat and ready to jump right into her surroundings. That’s the mom I know and love.. always up for something new!
The staff was supposed to keep her busy while we unloaded the truck and got her room set up. She kept leaving activities because she wanted to be with me. At one point when everyone was gone getting more things out of the truck she looked at me and said she didn’t want to stay there and she wasn’t ready for this and started to cry. My heart broke in half. I tried with everything that I had inside of me to stay strong because I knew that showing her how I really felt wasn’t going to help. After 9 hours of getting her moved, we were finally done. We had barely eaten all day and my 7 month pregnant self felt like a train had hit me. It was finally over. When we had to leave she cried again and I held it together and told her it was all going to be ok and she would love it. Deep inside I wanted to scream and take her far away and pretend none of this was real.
The biggest transition for me these last few months is realizing that I can not give my mother the care that she needs to combat this terrible disease. Not only is it a full time job to deal with someone who has Alzheimer’s Disease, but I am about to be a mother myself. I have had to make sure I knew that I wasn’t in fact, super woman.
Tuesday went good when we went to visit. She was playing bingo and having a great time. We noticed her dog (who she hadn’t been feeding these past few weeks and that is a whole nother story) was still not getting her food because she was putting it up on the counter and her cat was hidden away under the bed. Then THE call came Wednesday morning. The director left me a message and told me that they found mom wandering at 4 in the morning and they know she isn’t fit for assisted living. They insisted I move her to Memory Care asap. My heart stopped and I froze. This can’t be real. Memory care is the part of the facility that made me so upset when I visited last month. The place with very severe cases of Alzheimer’s and “vegetable people” as I lovingly call them. This is the last step of care before hospice or death. My husband and I sat at the table and we called the Director on speaker phone. She told us why she felt mom wasn’t suitable for assisted living and explained that even though she was a very high functioning Alzheimer’s patient, she had been doing a great job of masking how bad it really was. I was absolutely heart broken. Even though I knew that my mom was progressing rapidly with the disease I felt we had at least a year (if not a few more) until it got to this stage.
They moved her within an hour of when I gave them the green light to move her. One of the stipulations of her moving to memory care was she could only have one animal. The thought of taking away one of “her children” was just about to take me over the edge. They had left the dog and cat in her assisted living room while she was settling in downstairs. PRAISE GOD for one of the caretakers that wanted to take her 13 year old Boston Terrier home! I am forever grateful and know she is in a great place. We were told not to come by on Wednesday because of the move and it may be easier for her transition. When the nurse called me Wednesday night to tell me about her day she said she hadn’t once asked about her animals? So strange. This is one of the MANY reasons I know the disease is out of control. My mom would NEVER harm her animals intentionally or be away from them. I made the decision Thursday to find mom’s cat a home since she was still a young cat and honestly I felt that the cat could live a better life somewhere else. If she was having problems with taking care of her baby (her dog), it was only going to get worse. And once again my prayers were anwsered and a friend, Mandi has stepped up and wants to adopt her!
(Present day 1/22/13)
Things have actually been pretty smooth since the move last month. Mom has taken VERY well to the memory care unit. They are all loving her wonderful personality and bright outlook which is wonderful to hear. She rarely asks about the animals anymore which breaks my heart, but I know that both of them are in a better home now.
The stress that I had in caring for her has literally vanished overnight and I am now able to focus on our little one.. Praise God! Up until the past week she still didn’t realize that I was pregnant and that a baby was coming soon. She would just point out that I was getting “plump.” At first I cried when she said it, but now after hearing it so many times and realizing it was the disease.. not her, I am finally at peace with it. She did ask last week about the baby though, so there is progress! Not sure if it is her getting her medications regularly now, or the fact that everyone around her has seen me and my large belly waddling around and talks to her about it. Either way, I am grateful that some part of her is happy and excited about our sweet Adalynn coming into this world very soon.
Everyday is an adventure, but we are always Blessed.