With this new stage, we have a new set of needs and issues to manage. Thankfully, we know they are in a community designed to support them, but it’s not perfect left to run by itself. Being involved and working with the staff is an important skill I’m working on developing. I’m working through how to identify and manage those needs while also respecting my parents need for independence and privacy.
The first two months were freeing, but I’ve recognized some gaps that need to be addressed … like making sure my parents are eating their meals. Their apartment doesn’t have an oven or even a microwave, so the community provides all three meals. I take my parents shopping weekly and I know they are going through two loaves of bread a week.
When I brought this to the attention of the staff, they confirmed that they stop by to let my parents know when meals are being served. There are two meal halls, so making sure my parent’s eat each meal isn’t as easy as it sounds. When I ask, my mom tells me they have only paid for one meal, so they choose to eat a sandwich in their apartment. I’m losing the communication battle on this one. We have discussed how nice it is that the community provides all three meals since my mom has no interest in cooking, but the concept doesn’t stick.
I stopped by to discuss it with the director since the simple reminders aren’t working. She shared that the staff reports that my dad wants to eat, but my mom keeps pulling him out of the meal hall. We chat through some strategies on how to get them to eat in the meal hall. We discuss letting them know of an empty table by the window that is reserved just for them as well as having the floor staff rephrase the announcement of lunch being served into an invitation to have a free lunch.
I’m glad I have trained staff in place that can help us figure this out. Supported.
We tried to prepare for this and limit the escape options. Our parents have surprised us with their smarts on this journey. When we thought disabling the car would keep them from behind the wheel, they manage to get someone to “fix” the car. We know to stay on our toes now.
After lunch, my mom decides that she’s going to demand 30 days notice and wants to speak to a lawyer. My mom get’s my dad back on her side and announces “I’m calling a lawyer.”
The retirement community did not do notify my parents and expect them to move in two days. They called me about this two weeks ago and I asked for some time to put the pieces in place so that we could make this happen. Part of the process included getting outside counsel from a lawyer to confirm that they had the right to move my parents and on a time line the retirement community could dictate. I also wanted to make sure my siblings could be in town to help and show a united front in support of this move.
My parents have done enough things, and most recently something that could have harmed another resident, that the retirement community is invoking the rights my parents gave them when they moved in. The retirement community is going to transfer my parents into the next level of care. The retirement community tried to help my parents get to this decision on their own, but none of the attempts worked – this is the last option.
We sit as my mom goes into the kitchen, picks up the phone, has a short conversation requesting a meeting about “real estate” and confirms a meeting at their apartment tomorrow at 1 PM. My mom returns and shows my dad the name of the person she called. It happens to be a lawyer listed in the directory of the retirement community. Witnessed.
My parents have just been told they are being moved into Assisted Living in two days. No one said a word as we walked back from the meeting, but as soon as we walk into my parent’s apartment in Independent Living, my mom erupts. “We are moving out. Let’s get our bags and go now.” My dad tells her “No, I’m not going to fight it.”
My parents disagree. Only a few times in my life have my parents disagreed in front of me. I should say, has my dad disagreed or contradicted my mom.
On the way back to the apartment, I texted my brothers and told them to please come as soon as possible. My brothers shortly arrive and my mom tries to tell them what’s happened. She hands them the letter. “The sale of the town house is really awful timing,” my mom laments. She decides that she will just move into a hotel for now until they find a new place. E, the brother who just spent the last week with them, tells them why he agrees with the move. This just makes my mom angrier and the conversation escalates into the illogical zone.
She’s unhappy with the fact that the three of her children support the decision made by the retirement community. She makes a variety of statements and demands about the situation. My siblings and I are wondering how we are going to make it to move day – and it’s only two days away.
I turn to my dad and ask him what he wants to do. He says he will be moving into Assisted Living in two days. Divided.
The Executive Director (ED) of the retirement community requested a meeting with my parents. I know she will be informing them they are being transitioned from Independent into Assisted Living. We arrive and are sent back into the conference room. My mom is chattering away, she is nervous. She has no recollection of this meeting room although we have been in here together at least twice before in the past two months. The ED and Manager of Independent Living join us. The ED explains why she called the meeting and informs my parents that in two days, they will be helping them move into their new apartment in Assisted Living. She hands them a copy of the letter detailing this change and the move date.
My mom tells the ED she won’t be moving and challenges her to provide specific incidents as to why this change is being made. The ED agrees to deliver a time line of events later in the day but does detail several recent incidents. My mom refutes each one. Deftly, the ED suggests we go look at the new apartment.
My dad agrees and asks if I will come along. I tell him I will. My mom refuses to go. As we are walking out, I ask my mom if she will join us. She has decided to stop and get some tea instead. The Manager of Independent Living says she will walk down with her once her tea is ready. My dad and I leave with the ED.
We arrive and I can’t bear to watch my dad. It’s a bedroom, living room and kitchenette with one bathroom. It’s the largest of the Assisted Living suites. My parents are both very mobile, which isn’t always the case for those moving in, which is why most Assisted Living units are so small. My parents are having to move from their 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom expansive apartment to this 400 square foot apartment.
My mom arrives and complains about the size, the carpet, the kitchen … the ED does a great job of selling the benefits and the positives.
The walk back to their apartment is quiet. My mom is holding the letter in her hand and no one talks. I am worried about what will happen when we get behind closed doors.
I text my brothers “911” so they know to get to the apartment immediately. I’m going to need some reinforcements. Revealed.
When the Executive Director (ED) called to discuss the timing of the transition of my parents from Independent Living to Assisted Living they wanted to move my parents immediately. The ED suggested giving my parents two-days notice and asked me to pick which day of the week we wanted to move them. I asked if I could have some time to prepare. She has known my parents for several years and knew they had a town house that kept them from accepting full-time residency at the retirement community.
Just retelling this has forced my breathing to quicken. I’d been working to get my parents to stay in the retirement community and now they needed to move into Assisted Living. For the past year, I’ve felt like my parents were was always one step behind where they needed to be.
Their promise to “not be a burden” shifted into a part-time job for me as I tried to allow for their independence but also manage safety, which they have been unconcerned about.
The ED agreed to give me a day to talk with my siblings. As soon as I hung up, I called my sister. I believed this is the right move for my parents but knew my mom’s first reaction would be to move back into their town house full-time.
I also knew that on the day this happened and following the move, all of my siblings needed to be here. My parents needed to see and hear from us that we agree with the recommendation to move them into Assisted Living. We also needed to be here to make the move happen in two days.
My sister and I talked through the need to:
Sell or Rent the town house
Get everyone in town
We set up a sibling call and then put together a time line so I could propose a notification date with the retirement community. Planned.