Monday, March 27, 2017 – 3 a.m.
Mom woke up early yesterday and announced that her house means too much to her. She will not move to Missouri.
I sipped coffee and listened. She told me how comfortable she is in her home, how she likes Grayslake and “everything is so close,” that she goes to bingo and the grocery store is “just down the street.” She feels like Dad is there and she does not want to leave him. She reminded me that she has always had to take care of herself and how much she enjoyed sleeping in her bed last night. She doesn’t mind living alone. “If I die, then I die. Don’t worry about me.”
I continued to sip coffee and listened. I wanted to give her time to say all she needed to say and to carefully listen to her.
I know the way I’m trying to approach relocating Mom closer to me is mostly likely impossible. Her reasoning is hampered by her vascular dementia. On top of that, she is 90 and attached to the memories of Dad and her life with him in their home. My efforts to involve her in the relocation process and hopefully have her realize the benefits of living in the same city are probably futile. Nevertheless, I’ll continue for a while.
When she finished talking and sat sipping coffee, I started to cry. I had tears of frustration from two weeks of her talking about moving one minute and then changing her mind the next. I shared my thoughts and feeling, tried to give reassurances, and pretty much pleaded with her to have an open mind about the situation…all the while realizing the futility of my efforts because she has such difficulty holding on to new ideas if they do not speak to her own understanding and needs.
By the time I finished sharing my thoughts, she was agreeing with the plan again. We had a light breakfast, finished packing, loaded up the car, told Kevin and Sue we would see them in a week or so and we were on our way to spend some time in Missouri checking out assisted living apartments and spending some time with friends and family.
Since it was Sunday and raining, traffic was light. Around 1:30 we stopped at Baker’s Square in Springfield, Illinois and enjoyed a late lunch that ended with blueberry pie.
When I make this trip, I use a rural route my Dad showed me years ago. It avoids St. Louis by going west from Springfield and then hitching on to 54 in Missouri. It’s a pleasant drive with lots of rural landscape.
About an hour after lunch, Mom wanted to know where we were…if we were heading back to Grayslake. I reminded her that we were going to spend some time in Columbia. She asked if we’d be going back to Illinois tomorrow because she missed her house. She gestured to the farmland around us and said, “Maybe you can live out here, but I can’t. I miss my home and I’m not leaving Grayslake.”
I listened as she lectured me on how I have my life and she has hers. She doesn’t want to be a burden to me and she enjoys being by herself. “I don’t have much time left and I want to live where I’m comfortable.”
It is important for her to live somewhere where she is comfortable…but also safe. A big cloud of dread took over me, but I continued to listen. Honestly, I’m pretty amazed at how well I’ve been able to avoid reacting and just stay focused to let her share her thoughts and feelings. Obviously, over the last year or so I’ve pretty much learned that reacting does nothing but end up in a battle of wills…a loud battle. Must avoid going there.
Once we got to my place, we unloaded the car and did a bit of grocery shopping. She would not let me pay for the bananas. Afterwards we watched an episode of Midsomer’s Murders on Netflix and then went to bed.
Although I slept for a bit, I woke up at 3 a.m. today with busy mind. I’ve hit the roadblock I was naively hoping to avoid: dementia in a 90-year-old fiercely independent widowed mother.
I’ve decided on the following:
- Cancel tomorrow’s visit to Candlelight Lodge.
- Make an appointment with the attorney and let her provide guidance in terms of what is required concerning eldercare law
- Try to do some fun things until the meeting with the attorney is completed
- Continue as I have been…and hopefully get her to agree to have a free lunch and tour at the newer assisted living facility we’re scheduled to see on Wednesday.
I’ve read about situations where some family members take the elder who has dementia/Alzheimer’s on a short trip while others move the elder’s furniture and belongings to the assisted living or memory care facility. The staff takes over and helps the elder settle in. Over time, most elders adjust to their new location. I don’t have others to carry out a type of abduction relocation. Not sure I would anyway. It’s just the two of us and probably a no win situation. It’s likely, I will need to rely on assistance from legal or medical authorities…and it’s going to be quite heartbreaking.
Mom’s going to fight me…to the death…as long as she has the kind of stamina and determination she has now. I can’t fix her inability to reason, her ongoing grief and her fear. I can only continue to listen, share my feelings, and move forward as gently as possible.