Friday, June 16, 2017 – afternoon
At Last…Mom Has Settled In
It’s hard to believe that within two and a half months’ time, Mom has settled into her new “apartment” at Mill Creek Village – The Arbors. She started in the Assisted Living building next door, but within two weeks or so, it was clear that she was more suited for The Arbors which is their memory care building. She’s been there over a month with her own furniture and treasured things I had moved down, and within a short time she stopped drilling me about wanting to go home or to go back to Grayslake. These days she’s more worried about the car. It’s here in Columbia and my son is using it. “I just want to make sure he knows it’s my car and not his.”
The other day, while we sat in the shade of one of the patio areas, she asked, “What was it that made us move here?” I explained that because we are both older, we agreed to live in the same community…so now we are both in Columbia..
“Oh that’s right. I never thought I’d be living down here. It’s a nice place, though.”
This did not happen by itself. I give a lot of credit to the staff at Mill Creek Village, and especially to Mary Kaye, Mom’s special friend and guardian angel.
Mary Kaye is the Coordinator of Activities at The Arbors at Mill Creek Village and she has become someone Mom knows she can talk to whenever she needs an ear. Mom also knows that Mary Kaye will be honest and up front…as well as compassionate.
I’m an only child whose parents lived 400 miles away. Now that I’ve relocated Mom to Columbia after a few months of widowhood, it’s like I’ve acquired a younger sister…one who understands where Mom is coming from, who has gained Mom’s respect and confidence, and who can talk to Mom in a way I cannot…very straightforward gal-to-gal manner which Mom loves. She’s been a huge help to us both.
Mary Kaye plans a monthly schedule of activities and it’s always flexible. She has the group of residents involved in gardening, crafts, weekly play time with the pre-school group, cooking, daily walks when the weather allows, time with visiting dogs, artwork, and so on. Because Mom is pretty high functioning, Mary Kaye makes sure Mom goes next door to assisted living to enjoy Bingo and some chair Zumba or chair Yoga classes if possible.
At present, the population of The Arbors is not at capacity. Mill Creek Village is one of the newer communities here in Columbia. But even at full capacity, The Arbors is all on one level and designed to allow freedom of movement and exploration safely monitored in a small setting. There are only 18 rooms, which in my opinion is wonderful. As of today, there are two married couples, two widowed ladies and I think 2 or 3 single men…so about 8 or 9 folks or so with a couple more scheduled to arrive soon.
Here are some photos from Mill Creek Village Facebook page:
- Gathering some blooms and creating a bouquet for the dining area:
2. Residents and some staff being good sports on Walgreens’ Red Nose Day (Mom is a Walgreens’ retiree.)
3. Time Outside:
4. Holding Mary Kaye’s hand:
5. Mom trying to keep busy while Mary Kaye is on vacation:
6. Mary Kaye and Mom went shopping for “soda” glasses at thrift stores. Mom began her career at Walgreens behind “the soda fountain,” and she has lots of fun stories about working at the Walgreens on State Ave. in downtown Chicago during World War II. Mary Kaye came up with the idea that they should have a “soda jerk” day…and so they did!
The Relocation Is Completed
With the help of the administration, the nurses aides, the directors of nursing, activities coordinators, cooks and maintenance staff, Mom relocation to The Arbors at Mill Creek Village in Columbia, Missouri is completed.
Mom’s life is now far more engaged than it has been for years. For over a decade she was the primary caregiver for Dad; then she visited him every day for 1 1/2 years after he was moved to a skilled nursing facility. Now it is her turn to slowly let go of all the worries and responsibilities of trying to live independently with her confusion and memory problems, and instead be part of a community that helps her find joy, companionship, and meaning.