Moving Mom

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

Yesterday, while labeling my mother’s clothing and underwear, I had a surreal moment in which I felt as if I were moving another kid to college. In reality, we’re getting ready to transfer Mom to an assisted living residence, where she’ll soon have her own studio apartment.

Doug and I spent the past week moving pieces of Mom’s furniture (her apartment comes with some basics) along with decorative accessories, photos, clothing, TV, microwave, and toiletries. We also shopped for a bedspread and items for her kitchenette.

The new apartment looks traditional and beautiful — the style my mother is accustomed to — yet we know, deep down, that all the elegant things in the world won’t fool my mother into thinking this other place is superior to the condo she’s grown to love so much.

When Doug and I aren’t consumed by the moving process, I’m usually on the phone with a social worker or a physical therapist at the nursing center where my mother is undergoing rehab now. The social worker is concerned about my mother’s delusional behavior this week. Mom doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with her health — nor does she remember last month’s visit to the ER at Beaumont Hospital, which ultimately led to all of this. Sounding like Dorothy on a broken record, she just keeps asking to go home. To her real home.

While I know this move is inevitable and right, I still feel twinges of guilt for uprooting my mother from everything that matters to her.

And I don’t know how I’d survive the stress without Doug, the world’s absolute-best husband. It breaks my heart a little, too, when I remember that Doug plowed through a similar scenario less than two years ago when his late father (who had Alzheimer’s) had to be moved several times until he and his mother found the right nursing home. (Ain’t midlife grand?) Doug’s experience with lease agreements and medical/legal paperwork alone has been invaluable, not to mention his willingness to sit with me and write my mother’s name on dishtowels and socks with a permanent marker.

The big move from the nursing center to assisted living is scheduled for Sunday. What a long and winding road it’s been. While I’ll be relieved to get my mother in a safe place, finally, I know there’s a boatload of emotional work ahead of me. Mom will need time and patience to adjust. And so will I. –– Cindy La Ferle

— Top: Our family with my mom on Christmas night, at Woodward Hills nursing center cafeteria. My mother has been recovering at Woodward Hills following a week at Beaumont Hospital last month. Bottom photo: A detail from Mom’s new apartment at a local assisted living residence. —




21 thoughts on “Moving Mom

  1. Oh how hard all of this must be. My mother broke her hip last year and the recovery has been slow. I realized the same thing — that this is what midlife is going to be about: managing our parents’ affairs and letting go of our children. It requires real soul to get through it with any grace. It sounds like you have that in spades. Along with a stellar husband and son. All the best.

  2. Cindy…..I have no experience with elderly parents as both of mine died when I very young. I’ve read your recent posts with sense of what you have been experiencing because several friends have had to do as you are doing. I simply want to say…I hope my daughter and/or son are as patient, loving and involved should this situation befall me as you and your family has been. I’ve admire my friends for the fortitude they showed and I add you to that list.

  3. ah, Cindy… sending love.
    The photo is precious.
    My mother passed on Boxing Day, have been looking at old never before seen photos from a no longer estranged stepbrother. Life is hard and beautiful and always a gift.
    peace to you all in this..

  4. Now at least your mind can be at ease that she will be in a place better to cope with her symptoms. I’m thinking of you and hoping all comes out well at least for now. Your husband does indeed sound like a great partner, particularly now. And the family photo–so bittersweet.

  5. Sending hugs, prayers and strength your way, Cindy. I’ve been in your shoes and know the toll it takes so please take care of yourself too.

    I’m hoping that your Mom will enjoy the activities and companionship enough to improve and thrive at her new home. It’s a big change for her and the adjustment will take time but I’m hopeful she’ll eventually find some happiness in the new home.

    Hang in there. You’re a good daughter. xo jj

  6. heart goes out to you. I know you will work your way through this because that’s just who you are. Strong and resourceful, kind and caring. Hang on to all the good times and bring them out when needed.
    I’m glad Doug is there with you. Tim was there for me when I went through this with my mom. Aren’t husbands wonderful.
    Sending all good thoughts your way.

  7. I appreciate hearing from all of you! Many of you are right there with me in the trenches of midlife, and I know you’ve faced some of the same challenges. It sure helps to know I’m not alone. Thank you all, so much, for your kind support. Knowing that good friends are cheering me on means so much. 🙂

  8. Cindy , I’m closer to what your mom is going through than your experience. I sometimes wonder how I’ll be in a couple of years. But I too have children that I know will help me and their father through the difficulties that are yet to come. You are doing a wonderful job with your mom’s future.

  9. Cindy, sending some heartfelt encouragement your way! You are such an awesome daughter and your mom knows it even though she doesn’t(if you know what I mean). We just lost Brian’s stepmom to this disease and his dad is heartbroken to lose the love of his life. I wish your mom the best and hope she sees some signs of improvement in her new surroundings…..hugs!

  10. I know there will likely come a day when I have to deal with this in my own and my Mother’s life. She’s so independent, I shudder at the thought. I suppose, like a child going to college, it’s just another step, another new experience in one’s life. It’s just harder the older and more dependent on others one gets.

    Best of luck to all of you!

  11. Cindy, I’m sending prayers of comfort to you. As difficult as this decision is, you know it’s for the best for your mom. We’re dealing with similar issues right now with Ray’s dad. Love to you, all.

  12. It’s so hard, for everyone involved. My mom wouldn’t speak to me for weeks, which was both heartbreaking and a much needed break.
    Just recently it hit me, we’re next 🙁

    Glad to see Nate there with you!

    • Thanks again, to everyone here, for these heartfelt comments and wishes. Bridgette, I have worried that my mother will be/is angry with me. When she was in rehab last month, she told the psychiatrist that I “took everything away” from her, including her car and her condo. She also told the psychiatrist that I had my friends living in her condo while she was in the hospital! I had become “the enemy,” despite the fact that I have sacrificed a normal life for her over the past two years. The tough part is the dementia — and the delusions that go with it.

      I have learned, the hard way, that I cannot always reason her, given the dementia, and I never know what she is really thinking. Yesterday, as the assisted living place, she kept asking when she could go home again. Then she thanked me for being good to her. “Most kids would just throw their parents into an old people’s home,” she said. So she really doesn’t get what is happening.

  13. I’ve been trying to get back to comment since reading this post about your mom. I haven’t been through this yet, but I do worry about the hopefully distant future when I may have to help my step-mom with a move. I know this family transition has been coming for a while, but it still must be very difficult.

    Thinking of you.

    • Thank you so much, Elizabeth. Yes, it’s still difficult, as the adjustment isn’t happening yet. And I am not entirely pleased with the care level she’s getting at the residence. So far, there have been several staff slip-ups, and one of them — a ridiculous delay in giving my mother some medication — was especially worrisome. Thinking of you, too!

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