Celebrate! My siblings, Mom, Dad and I have come through the front wall of the storm and have arrived safely to the tranquility of the eye! With hurricane season upon us once again I could not resist this metaphor!
After months of visits, decisions, choices, aggravations, packing and more decisions, we have finally gotten both of my parents settled into a Continuing Care Retirement Community. I can now say to you that it was quite a feat, requiring hours and hours of on the scene assistance as well as time behind the scenes arranging and organizing.
The details of the how and the why were spelled out a little bit in my post ‘Do Not Pass Go….Do Not Collect $200’ where I describe this seemingly never-ending marathon of activity.
But I wanted to report that we have arrived at a calmer phase….at least for the moment. And, when you are a caregiver for your aging parents, you will take what you can get by way of relief.
My mother is SO HAPPY in her new independent living apartment!! She loves the apartment, stating outright that she does not miss the house one bit; a house that she moved into with 3 young children back in 1965. The apartment is perfect for her and she has nothing to worry about; everything is new!! New carpet, new bathroom, new kitchen; you name it, it is new! I think there is relief for her in not having all the ‘things’ that filled the big house that she was in all by herself.
She loves the food! Included in her monthly fees is one meal a day. I am sure that her nutritional intake has improved because when you are living alone, with just one to fix for and eating alone, well, you just make do without a lot of cooking. Not only have the meals boosted her nutritionally, they have engaged her socially. She bragged that she’d had lunch with a hall-mate and dined with many of the neighbors on her hall one evening (something they do once a month). The dining room has a ‘Friendship Table’ for newbies that come to the dining room without knowing many people yet. So she is out and about in ways that she has not been for years.
Then you’ve got the fitness trainers. She had a meeting with them her first week there and they have worked out an exercise program for her that focuses on her needs. Mom just got a new brace for her left ankle and is now having some new knee pain due to the extra weight of the brace. I suggested that the trainers could help her work on that (develop her thigh muscles) and she would likely see improvement. So now she tells me that she is going to exercise class on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons! Oh, and she will add in the water aerobics at some point as well (after all she has 2 new bathing suits that she had me help her purchase online before the move was even complete!).
I find myself singing, ‘Oh Happy Day!’ under my breath…… I truly have not heard my mother this happy and relaxed in years!
Dad is happier too. His new nursing facility has much more to offer and he is able, between the complaints, to grudgingly admit that he is happy. Though being in a nursing home and having dementia would never be at the top of anyone’s bucket list, he is dealing with it in the only way that he is capable of and his family and friends are glad to see glimmers of happiness in him again.
So for the moment, we are in the calm. The past couple of years have been stormy! Trying to keep my parents at home as long as possible, watching my mother have to provide ever-increasing assistance to my father, having to get help in so Mom did not burn out, placing Dad in a nursing home and now this final move have taken their toll. We are tired.
But we are satisfied…..and so are my parents.
One thing I know for sure is that the journey is not finished. My father’s dementia is going to continue to progress. He is already having a hard time remembering all of our names and it annoys him when you clarify. He has frequent falls which could someday lead to a broken hip or other bone. But for now he is safe, well fed and cared for and grudgingly happy.
And Mom, who knows?? With this new lease on life she could live for many, many years yet. Or, her medical issues could at some point become more problematic and create another opportunity for transition. But it will be a transition through the levels of care on the campus where she now lives.
So for now we will enjoy the eye of the storm. We know that the back side of the storm will hit us at some point in the future but for just this moment, I will relax, enjoy my mother’s happiness and keep singing, “Oh Happy Day”!
On the journey with you…….Kathy