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Caring For An Elderly Parent: First Week With Mom

Blog - Pic 57“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

The first week having Mom live with us in California has certainly been an adventure! And my husband and I can’t believe the improvement we see in her from the day we arrived in Florida to moving her out here.

The other day I came out of our place and Mom was actually sitting in the courtyard. I can’t remember Mom ever wanting to be outside (being allergic to light and all), but there she was sitting there with her dark sunglasses and heavy sweater. Did I mention it was 86 degrees out! I’m not sure how long she was sitting there because she gets confused with time, but I had mentioned earlier that we’d be going out when we were finished what we were doing. I guess she only processed the “going out” part. But hey, she was getting some sun and seemed to enjoy it; I¬†guess we’ll just have to start wording things differently.

And what’s with her having to be on a schedule anyway? Yesterday I told her I was going to have a shower and then we’d go out; well I got to doing other things first and obviously (for her) took longer than expected. She called out her back door to my husband (who was working in the garage) questioning where I was. He knew I had just jumped in the shower so told Mom that, but she had to argue with him – “She can’t be taking a shower because she already had one. She must be doing something else.” Yea, I was doing something else alright – trying to de-stress in the shower! ūüôā

But things are going pretty well considering how new this is to all of us. We’ve been trying to keep Mom busy so her mind is not focused on Florida. My husband gave her the task of folding ¬†the paper that came in her boxes from the move (you never know if she’ll need it again!) – you should have seen the perfectly placed piles around her chair in the living room – too funny! I’m pretty sure she loved having something important to do.

What I Learned: Everyone has their own way of going about things – try to understand.

 

 

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Moving In!

Blog - Pic33“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

“What do you mean you’re at the front door!? You said you’d be here after the new year!” Crap! The movers arrived New Year’s Eve at 8 AM. Mom was down the street at the hotel and we hadn’t finished figuring out where things were going because we thought we had a few more days! Arrhhhh! OK, let’s get this done. My husband dealt with the movers while I’ll ran and got Mom.

Once we got the day going everything fell into place. We got all Mom’s things moved in and situated where she wanted them. For some reason Mom was obsessed with her dining table – when it was brought in it was apart (obviously) and Mom couldn’t wait to tell the movers to make sure they put it together. Every time they came and went Mom would mention about putting the dining table together. We told her not to worry, they’d put it together when they were finished bringing everything in, which they did – with Mom (of course) instructing them every step of the way.

The day was somewhat stressful, but we got through it.¬†Mom was tired, which was probably a good thing since¬†it was her first night alone in the house. My husband and I didn’t know what to expect with having our new neighbor all moved in. You may recall from my February 10 post Choices, Challenges and California that our houses are attached. The only bad thing about being attached is that our bedroom is attached to my mom’s bedroom – not so sure how that’s going to work out.

Let’s just hope we don’t get any knocking on our wall tonight!

What I Learned: Be Patient РMom will adjust (and hopefully so will we!).

 

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Acclimating Mom

Blog - Pic 56“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Christmas Day! ¬†We picked Mom up from the hotel and took her to her new home. We didn’t know what to expect – would she love it? Would she hate it? Of course she saw pictures, but this is the real deal.¬†She’s going from her quiet country club setting to city life in Los Angeles – will she adapt?

Well her first impression was a good one. She thought the house was charming and loved the wood floors and nice new kitchen. She honestly didn’t seem to have a problems with her new living arrangement. Wait…. maybe this is the calm before the storm. Maybe she hasn’t realized her situation yet. Well let’s keep her mind focused on the present.

We spent a lot of time driving around with Mom so she could see the area she’ll be living in and hopefully find her barrings. We hit up a few restaurants – did I mention Mom loves to eat out?¬†And we had some finishing touches to do at her house before the movers arrived, so that took up a lot of time.

We wanted Mom to spend as much time as possible at her new home so that she would get familiar with everything. We would give her little tasks to keep her busy so that my husband and I could have some time to ourselves – I can’t stress how important it is to have time for yourselves.

The next few days were long and tiring for Mom (us too) but that was a good thing – she basically got to her hotel room at the end of the day and slept. Each morning we would pick her up at the hotel, take her to the house, and figure things out. It was definitely starting to feel a little weird for my husband and me – we’ve never spent this much time with my Mom. We’ve always spent the time between Christmas and New Year’s just the two of us on a nice road trip to a nice hotel for a few days – not this year.

This is either going to be a great beginning for Mom or the end of life as we know it for us.

 

What I Learned: This is a huge undertaking – don’t take it lightly.

 

 

Caring For An Elderly Parent: The First Boundary

Blog - Pic 55“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

We arrived in California Christmas Eve just like we planned. We were all so tired and fit to be tied and I just wanted to sleep in my own bed for a change. Mom’s movers were scheduled to arrive 4 or 5 days after the new year so she would be spending about a week or so in a hotel just down the street from our new house. She wanted to stay with us and sleep on our floor (remember, my husband and I have the small house with only 1 bedroom) but we were not going to start that situation – we knew if we did she’d want to be at our place all the time. Also, how uncomfortable would that be for Mom.

Mom certainly wasn’t happy about being alone in a hotel room but we have to have boundaries – the RV trip across the country taught us that! And really she’d only be sleeping there and spending the days with us getting her house prepared for the movers. I realized that if you don’t create boundaries immediately when a situation arises it can get ugly – and trying to back pedal just makes things more stressful. There is no easy way to say “No”, and although it may seem harsh at the time, boundaries absolutely need to be set right from the beginning.

So we got Mom settled in at the hotel and the three of us headed home for a much needed rest.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day – let’s relax and enjoy!

 

What I Learned: Boundaries – gotta have em!

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Moving Day!

“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

The packers and movers are doing their thing while Mom sits in the living room watching her life change before her eyes. She is definitely aware of what’s going on but is still in the “I can always come back” mode. We all know she won’t be going back to her house but it’s better to ¬†agree with her that she has that option – why upset her when she’s already out of sorts with tBlog - Pic 52he whole moving thing.

While the movers were loading the truck, my husband, son and I were getting the RV ready for the road trip. We were going to be on the road for about 4 days and we were travelling during the Christmas holidays. We’d be stopping along the way and spending the nights in hotels – no way were we going to sleep in the RV! We were hoping to be home Christmas Eve – as long as the traffic and weather were on our side.

My husband and I have driven the California/Florida route numerous times and, thank goodness, my husband loves driving. Of course, this drive was definitely going to be a whole lot different. We knew we’d have to stop more often with Mom mainly because of cabin fever, and we wouldn’t be able to go as fast being in an RV, but we all had a positive attitude and we were going to make the best of this trip.

The whole trip, Mom sat at the table seat belted in facing the front of the RV so she could see out the front window. She barely left her perch the whole time and would make a big fuss if one of us stepped in front of her view. She always had her two cents to say about my husband’s driving and all he could see in his rear view mirror was Mom. Bless his heart, he was so patient for such a stressful trip.

I have to admit it was a little nerve wracking driving all that way with Mom, but having the RV made things so much better – especially when we ran into the snow/ice storm in New Mexico! We were stopped on the highway for about 4 hours before the roads were cleared for us to continue – thank goodness for bathrooms in RV’s!!

My husband and I have a totally different routine when we road trip, but obviously we had to schedule most things around Mom’s routine. All in all we made it to California safely and, believe it or not, my husband and I are still married!

What I Learned: Bite Your Tongue! (and talk Mom into flying if there’s ever a next time)

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Managing Mom’s Management

Blog - Pic 47“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

My husband and I arrived in Florida about a week before the movers were to arrive – we still had so much to do. We’ve got the movers and packers figured out but still have to work on suspending utilities and phone, letting her doctors know she is moving, redirecting her mail and making sure we have all important papers with us.

It was important to make sure I was an account manager on all my mom’s accounts that she held – credit cards, utility companies, phone companies, doctors – basically everyone that my mom dealt with, because my mom was just not able to handle any type of cognitive work any more. Her bank book was a mess, she was behind in credit card payments, utility payments, phone bills – you name it, she was behind. And the sad part about that was she was paying late fees and interest for no reason – the money was always there. Poor Mom, she just couldn’t keep up with it.

I literally spent days just calling everyone to try to get her out of that mess. I must admit, I did a pretty good job! I got her all caught up in her delinquent bills and got her set up on automatic withdrawal for most accounts. The hardest thing was getting the companies to put me on as account manager. They (obviously) needed my mom’s consent which meant mom had to talk to each of them – not too much of a problem, but my mom gets confused easily and it was a little stressful getting through it.

So we were all set for the big move; as you may recall, Mom won’t fly, so let’s go get the RV! ¬†Yup, we are driving Mom across the country in an RV. You realize we’d be home in like 6 hours if we flew, right?¬†But hey, ROAD TRIP!

Should be interesting….

What I Learned: I realized that Mom wasn’t super woman any more – someone really needs to step in at a certain point.

 

 

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Mentally Moving Mom

Blog - Mentally Moving Mom4“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

OK, so we’ve figured out where we all will live; the next step was to figure out what Mom will need to bring with her for her new living arrangement. Her place is much smaller than what she’s used to so she definitely can’t bring everything. Maybe we should just rent what she needs until we figure out if this situation is going to work – for all of us.

Well looking into renting everything just didn’t make sense, so how much can she bring and how will we get it here. U-Haul? Long distance movers? POD? So much to think about while trying to work it out financially as well Рany way we choose will be expensive since we are moving across the country.

After days of calling around we decided on using a long distance mover since they could handle all the packing, loading, moving, and unloading. Although expensive, this was the most convenient way for us to coordinate things from California. There were less expensive ways (like U-Haul, PODS) but that involved doing a lot of the packing, loading, moving and unloading ourselves, which was way too much work for us to handle.  

This was one of the most stressful times for me and my husband Рwe realized someone had to be in Florida to see it all come together.  Time to call in some relief!

What I Learned: With being such a stressful time, try to manage things to relieve stress.