I posted very recently about conversations with my mother on her thoughts of leaving the house that she has been in since I was 3; the house that my parents took the initiative to add onto about 5 years ago to allow them to live on one floor; the house with the first floor laundry, full bath and bedroom. 3 steps to get inside and you are good to go.
In the conversation that ensued (see ‘Home A-lone(ly)’ to read about the lead up), she ultimately decided that she really would rather stay in the house as long as possible. We talked about neighbors, friends, church, support systems, services that could help her do things that she felt she could no longer do for herself, if needed, and given the whole picture, she felt fortunate to have all of those things. We also discussed how her life had gotten somewhat small and some of the things she could do to change that a bit. I thought we were back to smooth sailing for awhile!
Since that was about 2 weeks ago, you can imagine my reaction when I got a voicemail the other day in which she announced that she has decided to leave the house! Back we go, into the storm……
I truly believe that part of the burden to her right now is that she continues to insist on visits to my father far more often than she can physically handle anymore. And as the interactions with Dad are difficult at best, they are draining for her. I’m not sure if this get-out-of-the -house idea is not, in part, a get-away-from-Dad idea.
When asked why she feels the need to leave, one of the reasons that she gives is that she can’t get up and down the basement steps very well anymore to which I say, don’t do it! Everything that she should need can be on one floor. That’s why they put on the addition!
She complained that the stoneware that she has for cooking and baking is too heavy anymore as is the cast iron skillet. Again, don’t use them! These are things that are easily replaced.
So I’m once again back to asking what is really driving her decision. Not that we won’t help her do that if it turns out to be what she really wants.
I live about 3 hours away in another state and have told her that she would be more than welcome to move close by to us. She could get a one level home around the block from us and my Dad can relocate to the nursing facility about 5 minutes from here.
That would allow us to help her on a more daily basis. Help her get groceries and the visits to Dad. Pick her up and take her to church on Sunday. Help with the yard (though she has that where she is now).
But the move would also mean giving up a lot of the day-to-day familiar: things like neighbors and friends; grocery stores and banks; doctors and other healthcare providers. It would mean leaving her church. It would mean parting with many of the familiar things that surround her in her home.
And it would mean moving Dad to a new facility: One where his friends and former colleagues could no longer stop in for a visit; one where the neighbors could not drop in as they walk by in the neighborhood. One where the postman who delivers mail to the house is no longer the same one that delivers mail to the facility.
So, we will talk again (my sister may join me on this one). Talk about the realities of the various choices. Talk about the ways that we could adapt her current situation to better suit her. Talk about what it would mean to move to another state (the good and the not so great parts). Talk about what is really driving her need to get away.
To be sure we will also talk with my brother. He is the one that has the best idea on the finances and is the financial POA. Finances have to be part of the discussion: What can she afford to do and what can’t she afford to do?
And then we will talk with Dad so that he feels included. We may not be able to talk in the same ways that we talk with Mom, but I think that he will follow her lead.
Whatever the outcome, there are more changes ahead. Either we will be planning a move of some sort or gutting out and adapting the home to better suit Mom. We will move over and over again from smooth sailing through the perfect storm and back to smooth sailing again.
And somehow, we will navigate through each transition…….
On the journey with you…….Kathy