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I put my mom in assisted living today

May 15th, 2015 at 07:17 pm

It's been a rough couple of days. I think it fair to say this was one of the most difficult periods of my life.

Well, it's been rough all week in fact, starting with Mother's Day last Sunday. We were supposed to go out for lunch but my mother was having heart palpitations and called 911. She got the heart palpitations because apparently she wasn't taking her meds. She had always told me she was, and I believed her.

I took her home Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, she called 911 again, this time for...wait for it...constipation.

This time, the hospital kept her for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. My mother was climbing the walls.

They wouldn't release her to go back home, where she lives alone, because she appeared confused and disoriented and they said it wasn't a safe environment. (Well I would too if I sat around a hospital for 4 days.) But I also agreed with them. They said she needed round the clock care, and again, I agreed, though I have been trying very hard to keep my mother in her home for as long as possible.

But the truth is, I was worrying all the time about her. Worrying about her cracking up her car. Worrying about how so many different people in so many different scenarios could take advantage of her, financially. Worried about her getting depressed and lonely and always anxious because she was trying to hard to keep it together with her million different sticky notes on which she tried to capture and retain her thoughts, but they were a jumble of thoughts.

So I knew, and I guess in a way the trip to the emergency room was an opportunity for me to get her into an assisted living place more easily than going from home, because I could use the doctor's orders as an excuse.

With a sister who is useless and unhelpful, it was all pretty much up to me as to where to put her. I had researched just 2 different places. Masonicare was quite a bit cheaper (about $500 less a month) but it did seem more like a typical nursing home with dated, old-fashioned looking furniture and darkish hallways and not really a whole lot of activity going on. It seemed more about "maintenance" than stimulation.

On the plus side, besides the lower costs, the available room there had a view of a lovely pond with fountain and a walking path around it which I know my mother would enjoy. I was nearly ready to commit to that place, but the guy really did not seem eager to help me get in, at least, not in the way the people at Maplewoods wanted to help me.

Maplewoods was just built this year and it looks like a resort, just gorgeous. All the spaces are light, bright and airy, and each of the 3 memory care floors has its own sun room, large lounge areas with a large flat screen TV and fireplace, books, etc and their own dining room that looks like a classy restaurant, with an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs prepare the food. Each floor also has 2 computer stations where you can use it free.

My mother's studio has a good sized room with small closet and attached bath but no kitchenette. It does, however, have a great view of a pond with fountain and a lovely kidney shaped pool at the upscale condos across the way that was also very recently built.

If after some observation as to her default mental level, it's possible they could move her to a higher functioning floor where she'd have a "kitchenette" in her studio: basically a sink, small fridge and cabinets, but no stove.

My day started at 4 today due to anxiety of my own. At 1 i was at Maplewoods to review and sign the legal paperwork and hand over lots of money. I felt very much the way I felt when purchasing my home; the stress comes from making legal commitments about so much money!

After that, I met my handyman who had agreed to follow me in his truck to my mother's condo to load my mother's 2 dressers, a small but very nice table and chair. I had already made at least 3 trips on my own prior to this earlier in the week, loading up my car with stuff I planned to take to set up in my mother's new room and trying to empty out the fridge so it wouldn't smell and I could pull the plug.
Mostly I took her art because I knew that would be comforting to see on the walls, but of course I also grabbed clothing, shoes, some of her jewelery, toiletries, etc.

The Maplewood people said the kindest thing would be to tell my mother a white lie, that the doctor said it wasn't safe for her to live alone (true) and that her stay there was "temporary (not true).

My mother saw right through it and was angry and talking about people telling lies, etc. Very, very upset, with them and me. I was so emotionally drained by it all that I just dissolved into tears, and then she asked why I was crying and I said it was becus i didn't like to see her so upset. This distracted her from the reason why she was upset and about a half hour later, she calmed down and I walked her down the hall to her room, which was now pretty well stocked with her stuff. We knew she would be startled to see all her stuff there. I smiled inwardly because her very first comment was, I did a good job hanging the art. Then I said I was starving and did she want to check out the "restaurant" and we had a very nice dinner there together with no other residents around. By the time I walked back to her room with her, she was pretty calm and peaceful, we hugged a few times and I left and said I'd be back tomorrow.

I am so grateful and appreciative for the support my friends have shown me. My handyman saw what I was going through and said he didn't want to charge me anything and said he would take $20, but I gave him $35; he should have really gotten $75 for his 3 hours with me.

And my friend Ron told me he'd come up tomorrow and drive me over to my mother's old condo so I can drive her old Subaru home and more easily sell it. I'll be lucky to get $1,000; it's a '96 Legacy wagon. And we can stuff his SUV with more stuff for my mom or just more art I want to take, and then we'll visit my mother on the way back. She will be so happy to see him; she knows him from when we were dating in my 20s, so he's like an old family friend. His mother died of Alzheimer's so he knows what that's about.

Billy the handyman has agreed tentatively to make another trip to my mother's next week with me to load up stuff in his truck, whether to take to the dump like the queen bed or to just take the good stuff, like the art; most of the furniture is old and junky and not worth keeping but I will at least look into having a professional tag sale company price and try to sell it for a little extra cash.

I also ordered a new twin mattress, frame and headboard that will be delivered to maplewoods on Wednesday; right now she has a bed on loan from them.

After I clear EVERYTHING out of there, and that will be a while, I plan to have all the walls painted first. Then I'll have them rip out all the disgusting old carpeting and new neutral carpeting put in its place. If this doesn't exceed $10,000, I'd like to also replace 2 rickety old ceiling fans as well as the equally old 3 faucets in kitchen and baths. That is all I will do to update and then I will plan to put on market next spring.

I feel a little under the gun to do this quickly because the money from the sale of the condo, probably around $150,000, will be used to pay for my mother's very steep rent at the assisted living place ($5800 a month). Yes, you read that right. Comes out to $69,600 a year. If she deteriorates further and the level of care intensifies, the cost will rise even further, and i can also count on a 4 or 5% increase every year, she said.

Interestingly, they said the average age upon admittance was 86 (much older than I thought) although there are some people in their 60s there. (Sad.) And the average stay there is just 2 years. My mother is 80, so who knows how long she'll last, but the woman also said she didn't think my mother would run out as I feared; she said that in her 15 years in the business, she'd only had about 15 families who had to leave with their parent because they ran out of money. Usually, the resident died of Alzheimer-related illness or other causes. This actually makes me feel better becus I don't want to have to transfer my mother to a nursing home.

The monthly "rent" includes three meals a day plus snacks anytime, and the chef there is excellent. It really is restaurant quality food.

My mother was doing a little drawing in the hospital and I would like to find some sketch pad at her place to bring over, with some pencils. I wasn't sure my mother was capable of still creating art but at least she was drawing, and enjoying it.

By moving her there, she should have 4.5 to 5 good years before the money runs out. If she is still alive at 85, then I will have to put her in a nursing home under Title 19. I hope that doesn't happen. This place is probably the nicest place she's ever lived in and I believe that by removing her from an environment where she was feeling so anxious for so long over "paperwork" she just couldn't let go of, her more simplified life right now will allow her to just relax, let go and enjoy life.

I am exhausted, but in much better spirits than the past 3 days, when I kept second guessing myself and waffling between these 2 facilities. My friend from work assured me that both facilities were the right decision and I did the right thing. And Ron also said, after I told the long story of what I did this week, that I got a lot done in just a few days. I really did, but in the midst of it I felt nearly incapable of reaching a decision, because it came down to do I want to extend my mother's stay in assisted living 6 months longer at Masonicare, due to lower cost, or do I want to go for the place with the better quality of life and stimulating activities so she can make the most of it now while she still can and deal with what happens after that when it comes. Because I am so frugal, I was leaning first toward Masonicare, but when I thought about whether my mother would be happier at Maplewoods, that's what won out.

31 Responses to “I put my mom in assisted living today”

  1. My English Castle Says:

    Oh my word, you must be exhausted. I did this 10 years ago with my brother's help and we were wiped out with all four of pitching in. This is such a hard time, but it sounds like you did the right thing. All the best to you and your mom.

  2. Jenn Says:

    It definitely sounds like you made the right choice. Take care of yourself too.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    I'm sure you did the right thing. ((Hugs)) That is definitely an emotionally draining experience. While she probably can't thank you, I'm sure she feels much relief.

  4. Amber Says:

    Aw I truly understand, going through the same thing with dad. I know in my heart you made the right decision

  5. AnotherReader Says:

    You did well. Really well. Your mother is lucky to have a child that put her interests first and did the best she could for her.

  6. ceejay74 Says:

    Wow. You are incredible to take that all on by yourself. Such huge decisions and so much work. I agree, you did the right thing. I hope your mother comes to love her new home and realizes it's a much better situation for her.

  7. Petunia 100 Says:

    What a week you have had! I think you made the right decision. I'll bet your mom ends up enjoying her new home.

    I think it is very sweet the way she went into nurturing mode when she saw you were upset.

  8. Kiki Says:

    My thoughts are with your mom and you during this time of transition for your family.

  9. latestart Says:

    Hugs, my cousins had to make the same type of decision last year. While at first she seemed agitated to be in the assisted living facility, a year later she seems very happy.

  10. VS_ozgirl Says:

    Isn't it funny the way things turn out in the end! Your mother is lucky that you knew this would happen eventually so could prepare appropriately. I definitely think you chose the better option, you did really well

  11. PatientSaver Says:

    Thank you all! Your support means a lot as i kept questioning whether I did the right thing, partly becus my sister said I was "jumping the gun." She rarely sees my mother or spends much time with her, so I really think she is just totally out of touch with the changes I've seen during the past year.

  12. PatientSaver Says:

    I also feel fortunate that even tho the money may eventually run out, at least she had some savings that I could use to put her in a top notch facility. A lot of people, I am sure, can't even consider something like that due to the expenses.

    I've talked to so many people about this, and some focused on what I should do to get some kind of inheritance. (This was before I put mom in AL.) Honestly, I don't feel bad about not getting any money; it's her money, after all, and i firmly believe it should be used to help my mom out now that she needs it. I will be happy to take many of my mom's possessions that she can no longer fit in her new space, and I would like to try to sell some of her art or donate it to a public library, which I know would please her.

  13. Rachael777 Says:

    I just my Dad in assisted living. interesting to hear other experiences. thanks for sharing and sounds like you are doing an AWESOME job! Smile keep it up and take breaks for YOU too.

  14. PatientSaver Says:

    Thank you Rachael...would love to hear your experiences with your dad.

  15. Ima saver Says:

    My thoughts are with you. I am sure it was a hard thing to do.

  16. Dido Says:

    So sorry you've had such a rough week--but it sounds as though you did the right thing, and that your mom will come to adapt, and you'll BOTH have such an easier time from here on in. It's a true watershed moment, but I suspect you'll have no regrets. And you'll both sleep better at night.

  17. Laura S. Says:

    A tough week for sure, but a good choice and environment for your mom.

  18. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    It does sound as though you've had a rough week and made a tough decision. Your mom is lucky to have a daughter who cares about her so much.

  19. LuckyRobin Says:

    Wow, I feel emotionally drained just reading about it. I can imagine it has been exhausting and frightening and such a rollercoaster for you. You made good decisions and when you've had a little time to get further away from it, you'll feel it. I hope you have a little bit of time to take just for yourself, even if only a few hours, to take care of you, do something nice and relaxing. You deserve it. Even if it is just a bubble bath and a pint of ice cream.

  20. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    This is a major life event. For you, I mean! I bet Hallmark hasn't even made a card for it, though.

  21. PatientSaver Says:

    Yes, it did indeed feel like a major life event. Another generation moving on. This would be a great idea for a Hallmark card becus it happens to so many.

  22. Carol Says:

    When I finally acknowledged my mother's dementia ( and figuring out what to do then was soo hard), I used a phrase in my decision-making that her nurse practitioner said to me-- go for quality of life--it sounds like that is just what you did. Sending you caring thoughts at this tough time!

  23. Brooklyn Girl Says:

    I'm so sorry. It just sucks when you are faced with a "no win" situation, and all you can do is do the best you can. Frown

  24. rob62521 Says:

    My heart goes out to you because you have been through so much. Your mom wouldn't have been happy if you had told her the truth instead of a a white lie. It makes it easier for you to realize you didn't make the decision. Thinking of you and hope things settle down for you.

  25. CB in the City Says:

    Oh my goodness. What a tumultuous time. Your mother's facility sounds a lot like the one my mother went to -- she went to it willingly, thank goodness. She lasted there about four years and died of heart & renal failure. But she was happy there, and when she came to visit me, she was eager to get back to where she felt safe and protected.

    I know you have been stressed out about her deteriorating condition, and I am glad that the decision has been made. This will ensure her safety, in a pleasing environment, which is what it's all about.

  26. pnw Says:

    I think you did the right too. It sounds like it is the right place for her to be. Sorry your sister is no help...that has to be so hard. My spouse and I are dealing with aging parents also, but at least we have siblings to share it with and we are not at that point of thinking of assisted living.

    Thinking of you and hoping things settle down a bit and your mom will adjust to her new surroundings.

  27. Miz Pat Says:

    I know this has to be incredibly stressful for you. You are in my prayers. Your mother is extremely fortunate to have you.

    And this is why I feel everyone should have insurance to pay for extended care when they get older - it makes the difference with whether you leave a paid for house to your kids, or you have to pay for it with your house. I'm paying $3K a year to have this insurance now at age 59 and I'm extremely hopeful that it will help when I'm no longer able to live without help or have to have someone visit at the house.

  28. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    good luck.

  29. starfishy Says:

    wow, that all sounds so rough! but from what you have shared about your mom's condition over the past few years, you definitely made the right decision - for her and for you. Living with the stress of worrying about her safety is not living. even if she struggles adjusting to her new place, it's better than having her on her own risking the chance that she would hurt herself, or worse, hurt another person if she went out driving, etc. sounds like your sister is in serious denial. i'm sorry you had to deal with this on your own, but i'm glad you listened to the hospital staff and took care of both your mom and yourself. thinking of you as you navigate this new chapter.

  30. natasha.cornelius Says:

    I'm sorry for everything you're dealing with. It's not easy. I worked in an assisted living for 5 years and have seen many times how hard it is for residents and their families.

    The past couple years my grandma's dementia has been getting worse and worse, and unfortunately she never planned for her long-term care. She never worked, only relied on her husband's income. My grandpa died from the effects of Alzheimer's over 10 years ago and most of the money from his life insurance policy is long gone. My grandma has to move around every couple years it seems because the rent at the facilities go up. It's hard on her, but harder on her family since she forgets the move soon after it happens. It's strange because she knows she has dementia (she frequently tells people so they know not to be frustrated if she repeats herself) and most people who have dementia don't actually verbalize that they do.

    The right assisted living can be so helpful. Your mom hopefully will make some good friends and you will have to worry much less now!

  31. DeniseNTexas Says:

    I'm so sorry you're going through all of this. I've been down this road with my stepfather (Dementia) and it's very difficult. It sounds as though you've done the right thing, though. I'll keep you in my thoughts.

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