Do Not Pass Go….Do Not Collect $200……

I used to play a game with my siblings and friends growing up called ‘The Mountain Game’.   It was a game featuring Southern locations such as Chimney Rock, Grandfather Mountain and the Tweetsie Railroad, and much like Monopoly, there were more than ample opportunities to ‘Go Back to ….fill in the blank…..’ during the course of the game.  Games could go on for hours because you might be almost to the end and get sent back to the very start of the game board.  You lived in hope of landing on a spot that instructed you to draw a ‘Good ‘Un’ card and always groaned when you had to draw a ‘Bad ‘Un’ card.

It was a game of two steps forward, three steps back and in order to ever finish the game you had to keep your sense of humor and maintain a great deal of patience; be willing to survive and move through that next roadblock in order to reach Ruby Mine at the end of the game.

I think that helping your parents with living transitions can feel a little like this type of game.  Sometimes it can feel like you are just breezing along and then, hold on, just don’t get too confident there….that bump in the road comes along to remind you that you are not all that and a bag of chips!

My family has been in the middle of a huge transition over the past couple of months.  After my mother had some medical issues earlier in the summer, it became apparent that it was time to discuss a move for her.  If you have been following my posts you know that she had been vacillating about moving out of the house for a while now.  But with the extreme amount of time that these health issues were beginning to consume for myself and my siblings, it was rapidly becoming a more pressing issue.  We needed to consider getting them both situated in a place where they would be safe and where there was somebody to respond to them in a timely manner around the clock.

This move involved visiting locations and making decisions about any number of things.  It meant involving my father, who has dementia, to the greatest extent possible and trying to find solutions for Mom and Dad that met both of their needs.  Additionally, we needed to consider the financial aspect of all decisions that were being made.

With Mom in a house that our family moved into in 1965, Dad in a nursing facility, myself 3 hours away, and siblings a bit more local but also busy with jobs, etc., it has become a bit of a juggling act.  There have been roadblocks a plenty but we pushed on.

My mother has just moved into an independent living apartment in a beautiful Continuing Care Retirement Community!  In the past weeks we have been going through the process of trying to scale her possessions down to a one bedroom apartment from a 2 story house plus full attic and basement!  I’m sure that you can imagine the amount of stuff that can accumulate in 47 years worth of living.  Especially with a father who was a pack-rat in addition to buying piles of things that were a ‘great bargain’!  Mom, being a good conservationist, would like to have found a home for everything but alas, we didn’t have the time to dedicate to that.

During the downsizing process, packing and wrapping up all the little pieces, and because we didn’t have anything else on our hands, we have moved Dad out to the nursing center at the same CCRC.  That involved coordinating record transfers, arranging transportation, packing him up and saying good-bye to the staff where he has lived since December.  I’m glad to report that he is having more opportunities to engage at the new facility!  His best friend from childhood lives less than 5 minutes away and is able to visit daily!  His dementia does, however, continue to progress……

Mom got the opportunity to pick out new cabinets, flooring and counter tops for her new apartment.  I took her furniture shopping to pick out a new bed (she wants a single bed so that she can get in and out of both sides), a new dining table and chairs (the dining area is much smaller than her current dining room) and a new love seat for the living room (rather than her oversized couch which would take up too much of the room).

And we spent hours boxing-up and cleaning-out.  One evening after a very long day we decided to have a shredding frenzy.  We had stopped to buy a new shredder while we were out that day, so we got ourselves a glass of ice tea and began the task.  It was very clear within about 15 minutes that the shredder we had gotten would have to go back as it repeatedly jammed even when we were feeding it 2 sheets at a time!  Two steps back……  It felt like getting a ‘Bad ‘Un’ card after the day that we had just had!!

There have been little surprises along the way, like finding out that my demented father had gone to the bank and taken everyone, including Mom, off of the trust that he had set up just 2 years ago so that we could all handle things that needed to be handled when the time came…..  Go back 10 spaces….. If we had not been able to approach this ‘game’ with a sense of humor and some patience, we would have gone nowhere fast.

So even though we have been sent back 3 spaces, missed a turn, gotten sent to ‘jail’ and been dealt a few ‘Bad ‘Un’s, Ruby Mine is in our sights!!

Oh, and I found The Mountain Game in the attic!  It now lives at my house waiting for grandchildren to play and maybe, just maybe, teach them the patience that they will need someday to help their aging parents!

On the journey with you…….Kathy

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