Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let's Try This Again

Three weeks ago, I announced I was back and then promptly disappeared again. I figure I owe an explanation.

Two things knocked me off my stride. I'll talk about one today and the other on Thursday.

The first was the need to reorganize my mother's finances to permit her continued residence in an Alzheimer's facility.

Fifteen months ago, my family moved Mom from the home she'd lived in for nearly fifty years to a residential facility (pictured below) devoted to patients with memory loss.

At the time we made the move, my three brothers and I were at varying degrees of acceptance that such action was even necessary. We were deep in discussion (AKA argument) when the police removed Mom from her home and took her to a hospital for evaluation. As you can imagine, this helped to move the conversation along.

The final decision came down to numbers. My youngest brother and I were in agreement that Mom could not return home. Our united front was enough to sway our middle brother. My oldest brother was not convinced, but chose to accept the majority rule.

This is a quote from the assisted living facility's brochure:
The layout is residential by design - small in scale and organized into four self-contained "houses." Each house has its own living room, dining room, kitchen, full bath and laundry. There's also a secured backyard for gardening and enjoying the outdoors.
"House" is a bit of a misnomer. The houses are wings off a central common area. The common area includes a library, hair salon, recreation room, music area, and large activities area.

Each wing has a max of thirteen residents, making the entire facility resemble a living deck of cards with 52 total. And, like a deck of cards, each suit has its own color scheme around which it is organized. The Green House, where Mom lives, has wallpaper with green borders and hints of green throughout the furnishings. Mom has a private corner room and half bath. Here's a photo of a house dining room with its three tables for the residents.

Note the door to the outside. Mom's house has at least three doors to the backyard that are kept unlocked until darkness. Multiply that times the four houses, and you realize just how open the living plan is. I walked out one of the doors early one evening and saw a deer on the other side of the back fence.

Of course, the setup is such that, although the residents are free to go outdoors, they cannot leave the backyard. There's a gazebo, and picnic tables and an old-fashioned porch swing.

One of my brothers--I don't remember which one--described the place as "Disney World for 80-year-olds."

Disney World doesn't come cheap. We're paying over $5,000 a month.

Understand, none of us begrudges the money. We recognize how lucky we are to be able to afford her care. Her occasional bouts of physical aggression and her very strong streak of independence would make it tough for one of us to keep her in our home although that possibility was the one we were entertaining when the police arrived at her house and forcibly removed her. She spent a week in the hospital tied to a bed.

However, when you add in the cost of the cocktail of medications Mom takes daily, we're running through her savings at quite a clip.

My youngest brother, who bears the burden of oversight, called me early this month. We had to do a review of her financial situation and move some money around to make arrangements for the next year of care.

My middle brother, his wife and daughter flew to Florida and spent last week visiting Mom.

She's good. She can hold it together in a social setting and waited until he had dropped his wife and daughter off at the hotel before asking, "Who were they?"

I call Mom almost every morning as I drive to work. I *think* she still recognizes my voice although I'm always careful to identify myself by name. In ten minutes of conversation, we talk about the weather about four times, and she asks me at least that many times how I'm doing.

It's hard to say whether I miss her more while we're talking together on the phone or when we are not.


Maria Zannini said...

Nice to see you blogging again.

I got your email. I'm due another week of purgatory before I can go out, but I'll call you then so we can do lunch.

Linda Lovely said...

I'm also glad you're blogging again. But, more importantly, I'm glad you were able to square things away to continue financing your mother's care. Of course, the financial part is the easiest. Seeing a parent slip away into a world where you're not admitted, a world that's often inhabited by frightening people and thoughts, is much, much harder. Hugs.

Maya Reynolds said...

Thanks, Maria and Linda.

I appreciate both of you more than I can say.