Tuesday, July 26, 2011

moving... again

Mom's journey down the path of dementia, has lead her to another wing of the assisted living residence. The wing that is not independent living. Last week Mom moved to her new room.

This is the more-assisted living wing, the wing where the exit doors have key pads, so only those who know how, can leave. This is the wing where the glass stemware at the dining table has been replaced by safe plastic drinking glasses and the table cloths have been replaced by cloth place mats. The elegant dining room has been replaced by the communal gathering area.

This is a small neighborhood of people, those who need extra help. It's where Mom will get more daily help with dressing, cuing, bathing, more personal monitoring.

Hopefully she will be calmer and happier, because she will be more directed. For a while now she didn't know where she should be or what she should be doing. Mom was lost. She was lost in her head and lost in the independent wing of the assisted living residence. Her world had been 150' of a zigzag hallway, from her bedroom at one end, to the dining room at the other, and she was lost. She was frustrated, confused, anxious, and lost.

Her new room is in the part of the assisted living residence where I thought she might be placed last fall, when she first moved there. However, she was able to live in the independent wing for the past nine months. Now it was time to move. It has not been an easy move for Mom. She wants to be back "up there with the grown ups." She doesn't want me hanging up her photos and knickknacks because "I'm only going to be here for a week."

There is grief. I'm saddened by the continual decay of my Mother's being.
But there is comfort knowing that she is where she needs to be, where there are nice people caring for her.


I HATE dementia

I HATE Alzheimer's disease




Tuesday, July 19, 2011

we don't talk about money

We don't talk about money, just like we don't discuss religion or politics. It's bad form to talk about money. But seeing as how on this blog, and many other caregivers' blogs, we talk candidly about everything from love to poop, I guess I will talk about money.

For many years Mom didn't want my help with her finances, "keep your nose out of my business."
Then very reluctantly she started to accept my help, paying bills and coordinating the visit to the accountant at tax time. And then very quietly, I took over all of Mom's financial tasks.
When she moved into assisted living, I took her check book, ATM card, and credit cards out of her purse. I left her a pile of one dollar bills, and took the tens and twenties.

"I need new shirts, I have nothing to wear, I want the ones with the smiling face, I want you to buy them, I know my mother has lots of money, she told me."
(Oh boy, Your mother never had two nickels to rub together and she's been gone for 55 years.)

When my brother and I first started talking about Mom's demented situation, and the necessity of getting in-home care or moving her into assisted living; my sister-in-law told me to start with the money. I took her recommendation seriously, as she is the sibling responsible for her two elderly parents. She has twice the chaos that I have.

Find out Mom's financial picture. Then I will know what she can afford and how longs she can afford it.

Yup - I said it. Hey Mom, how long can you afford to live?
I'm budgeting your life Mom.

At $4100 a month you can live for another X years. At $7600 a month it will only be for Y years. When the money runs out, what do I do with you then?

Mom is very fortunate, Mom has a monthly pension. She worked at the same job for almost 30 years. She also gets a small widow's pension from my father's employer, where he worked for 30 years. How many of us have pensions? How many of us have worked for one employer for our whole careers?

But the value of her monthly pension is nowhere near enough to pay her monthly bills. Her pension is based on her earning levels of a job that spanned the decades of the 1950's to 1980's. Way back in the 1980's when gas was $ 1.25/gal and coffee was only $0.40/ cup. Way back in the 1950's when my father could fill his gas tank for less than $1.00.

Mom's monthly assessment at the assisted living residence is more than the cost of her first home; and she had a 30 year mortgage on that.

Yup Mom, I'm budgeting your life. Is it a race to see which runs out first?

Monday, July 18, 2011

new clothes

Mom has been argumentative when I bring her new clothes. "That's not my size, I can't wear that."
So I return them to the store.
Last week I had an idea. I bought some new jerseys, washed them, ironed her name tag over the "wrong" size, and then just hung them in her closet.
On my next visit she showed me one of her new jerseys.
"I found this in my closet, I haven't seen this jersey in a long time. I'm glad I found it."

Yes! Score! One point for the devious daughter.

Friday, July 15, 2011

hair dryer

Mom is so lost. She is loosing touch with reality, more and more.

"They gave me this hairdryer. They said it's mine for keeps."
How do you reply to this?
"Well that was very nice of them." I blurt out. Good thing she can't see the bewilderment on my face. This is the same hairdryer she has had for years. It has hung in the same place at her apartment for nine month. She uses it almost every morning.

I guess her aide found her the other morning with the hair dryer in one hand and the tv remote in the other, and no idea as to what she should be doing.