Home Care Worked For a While
For the past fifteen years my mother and her good friend Mary have shared an apartment. About two years ago it became apparent that they were going to need some assisted living help. My brother made arrangements for a home care companion to help with the housekeeping, meals and limited transportation. This arrangement worked great for over a year and allowed my mother and Mary to maintain their current lifestyle.
In the summer of 2009 we noticed a major decline in mother’s and Mary’s general health. At this point it became necessary to increase the amount of time the home care companion spent helping them. Mary was becoming more forgetful and new medical problems resulted in her needing to use a walker. My mother was having major problems with her back and was not able to do much around the apartment or to participate in social activities. Mother and Mary now were unable to prepare a complete meal and became more dependent on their home care companion to help with this and other daily living task.
My mother and Mary refused to give up driving. As frail as they were they would still drive to the grocery store, drug store and church. My brother and I expressed our great concern and fear to them about their continued driving and the possibility of them being involved in a major accident. Those conversations went in one ear and right out the other ear, instantly. As my mother said “ My doctor has not told me to stop driving and the state has just issued me a new Driver License”.
Time to Consider Assisted Living
In the fall of 2009 on a trip to visit my mother, my wife and I were shocked at what we found. My mother was totally incoherent from over self medication and was a very frail. Mary was also frail and had become very forgetful. In a phone conversation with my brother he told me that he had been down two weeks earlier to check on them and they were physically frail but their mental status was OK.
My brother and I had several conversations with my mother over the next several moths about moving into a retirement home or assisted living home. Mother was not open to this idea. My brother and I wanted to honor her desire to stay where her friends were as oppose to moving her to be near one of us. My brother lives only three hours away, so we were willing to consider this arrangement. Mother did tell us that if she ever did move into a retirement home she wanted to move to the Le De House because she knew the owner and she provided great care to the ladies that lived there.
An Unexpected Hospital Admission Tips the Scales
In December 2009 mother and Mary were faced with many challenges. That month my mother’s car caught on fire as she was driving to the drug store. A few days later Mary had an unexpected admission to the hospital and my mother was faced with staying at her apartment by herself. At this point mother was overwhelmed with all the challenges she was facing. During a phone call (I live out of state) late one night mother did agree to move to Ann’s (owner of Le De House) on a temporary arrangement. As soon as I got off the phone with my mother I called Ann. With my mother’s approval Ann went to her apartment at 10:00 PM that night and brought my mother back to her house. For the first time in months my brother and I knew that our mother was safe.
Two week later Mary was ready for discharge from the hospital and her doctor told her she needed more support than she had at home. My brother and I now had the unpleasant task of telling our mother that she and Mary would have to live at LeDe house permanently. Fortunately, Ann was able to accommodate both of them. Ann was a gift sent from God in helping with this transition. The first few months were a time for adjustment. My brother and I were happy to have our mother and Mary living in a home where they were well care for and loved by the staff,
A New Chapter in Our Lives
My brother and I spent part of Christmas 2009 closing down our mother’s apartment, closing that chapter in her life and our life. It was a very difficult time for all of us. Again, thanks to Ann and her staff we all survived and even began to move forward.
Living at Le De House mother’s medications are supervised, she enjoys delicious meals and receives the personal care a ninety-three year old lady needs, resulting in her return to a more active life style (but not driving). She goes to her bridge club on Mondays, has weekly beauty shop appointments, attends church on Sundays and enjoys going to restaurants and visiting with friends.
A Norman Rockwell Christmas Scene
A few days before Christmas (2010) my wife and I flew to Washington, D.C. to spend the holiday with our daughter and her family. We had planned for all of us to spend Christmas Evening with mother and Mary. We were unable to keep those plans as my wife and I became very ill with the flu on Christmas. However, our daughter, her husband and three children did meet my brother at LeDe House and celebrated a wonderful Christmas Evening with mother and Mary.
Our daughter said that Ann’s house was decorated inside and outside like a Norman Rockwell Christmas scene. When they arrived the staff went upstairs to help GeGe (the name her granddaughter and great- grandchildren call her) walk down the stair case and into the Dinning Room. The Dinning Room was set for a spectacular Christmas meal, with two tables of appetizers, three tables of special Christmas entrees, and a table of deserts.
My mother is at a point where she can no longer decorate a house or prepare a big Christmas Dinner. However, the staff at LeDe House brought back fond memories of Christmas past and created memories of a special Christmas with GeGe. As the evening came to a close my mother became very tired, the staff assisted her back to her room and helped her prepare for bed.
Mother was so happy to have celebrated Christmas with her family. She was able to do so with dignity, grace and hospitality thanks to Ann and her staff.
The Challenges That Children of Aging Parents Face
As part of the “Sandwich Generation” ourselves my brother and I faced some difficult challenges with my mother. There are no “off the shelf” solutions. For those of you who are children of aging parents I suggest you discuss all of the options open to you with your parents well in advance of the situation turning into a crisis. Don’t leave it too late like my brother and I did. Take special consideration of your parents personal wishes. Involve people your parents respect in the conversation such as a primary care physician or pastor. It helps to have a supporting voice outside of the immediate family. Do your research well on assisted living or retirement facilities, get a feel for the people who would be taking care of your parents and make sure all their needs will be met within the budget you have.
As you can see the outcome ended well for my mother and Mary. They have found a new lease on life and are extremely well cared for. Assisted living was an excellent solution for our mother and can be too for your parents.