Setting the stage before my parents are notified

stageOur parents had a town house and had transferred ownership to me and my siblings. They suggested we sell it on and off for several years now, but continued to want to stay there several nights a week. From the time the retirement community initially met with my parents to suggest they consider accepting a personal companion and they refused, I increased my visits.

I found if they had things to do in the retirement community on the calendar they wouldn’t jump in a cab to return to the town house. For two months, I saw my parents every other day and we would go to the commissary, I’d stop by for a visit take them to the town house to look for my mom’s gold necklace, or join them for a meal.

During this time, we were also working to move their last few items to the retirement apartment and my siblings had already come on two visits and had made good progress.

Given the impending notice that my parents were being moved to Assisted Living, we knew we had to get the town house off the table. There was no way for us to physically prepare and sell the townhouse within a week, so we created the story and timeline to communicate the sale.

I share this story with mixed feelings. I think lying is the coward’s hideout to telling the truth. I knew that for the well-being of my parents, in this case, we needed to be sneaky. I still reflect on the psychologist telling me this would be required as we help our parents almost a year ago and I initially fought the idea. I want to treat my parents as I would want to be treated. In every instance, up to this event, I had a conversation with them about what was happening. In most cases, they never recalled the conversation, but at least I tried (as well as did my siblings.)

I realized that to help them make this transition, which was desperately needed, we had to manage the options around them so their only choice is to accept the move since cognitively, they are unable to make this choice.

Each sibling has a role in our plan – from making a phone call to coming to town to move their final items out of the town house, everyone is ready to help. United. 

3 thoughts on “Setting the stage before my parents are notified

  1. I support you completely in this “lie.” You are entering your parents’ world and their different way of processing and thinking. If you tell them that you’re selling the townhouse, they will forget that you told them. They will be sad, angry, disappointed at first….and then they’ll forget. And if you tell them again, they will be sad, angry and disappointed all over again. The last thing you want to do is be hurtful.

    We are preparing my mom’s house to be sold. I tell her about the renovations in the kitchen, and I say, “That will make it more marketable when the time comes.” I just don’t tell her that the time will come sooner rather than later.

    As for choosing….people with dementia (at least in my mom’s case, and I think it’s true for most) have difficulty making decisions on what to order on a menu. Giving them options about where they are going to live and how they are going to manage seems to be more than they can handle at this point.

    When my mother was diagnosed, her physician gave us two words to remember: “structured and uncomplicated.” The assisted living facility where Mom is now living offers that to her. She balked at first and wondered “what am I doing here.” Now, 2 months later, she brags to her friends and her sisters about how she is “living like a princess”. She has made remarkable progress mostly because of the social interactions. I keep her life uncomplicated by not bothering her with finances or other things that might make her anxious. She worries plenty about finding her wallet or her misplaced boots. It would be unkind, in my opinion, to burden her with too much information.

    Reassure them that you will always be there for them. It must be harder for you, since you are dealing with two individuals with distinct personalities and different issues.

    But, you are doing the right thing. We are all doing this out of love. It would be nice to get a “thank you” once in awhile, but this is the new normal. Just as they took care of us without a thank you for years and years, it’s our turn to care for them and love them unconditionally.

    1. Thank you so much for your note. I’m finally sharing the story of what happened in January, and my parents have been in Assisted Living for two weeks as of today. My mom doesn’t really remember where they used to live and seems much happier (it could be the new medication they are giving her is helping too).

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