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Life With a Loved One in Memory Care

Art / Life With a Loved One in Memory Care

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This post is sponsored by A Place For Mom.

It’s been 2.5 years since my parents began their journey of moving out of their house of 50 years and into assisted living. It’s now been 6 months since mom passed away and as we approach Father’s Day, I wanted to bring you an update on how everything is going with dad in memory care. Life changes when one spouse dies and leaves the other one alone, but it may be a blessing that mom went first before dad. Her passing doesn’t seem to affect his activity and it’s good that he doesn’t actively grieve all the time after losing his love of 70  years.

As a reminder, when we were looking for assisted living facilities, I did call a company that helps with those decisions, A Place for Mom. It can be such an overwhelming time for families who are going through this. I get messages and emails from people pretty often asking me questions about the process of moving parents to a care home. Back then in 2021, this was all new for us and we had never navigated this journey before. You can ask friends for their opinions and help, but it makes things a lot more clear when you have a knowledgeable advisor assisting in the process of finding the right place for your loved one. At A Place for Mom, you get paired with a dedicated advisor that helps. Best of all, their guidance is free to families.

When working with A Place for Mom, you get paired with a dedicated Senior Living Advisor who guides you through every step of the process. Our advisor at A Place for Mom provided recommendations and helped me to set up appointments to visit 5 senior communities in my area. I visited all 5 of them in one day and my family made our decision quickly that very same day, leaving a deposit for our chosen community. Two months later, my parents left their home and moved into the community, getting a red carpet welcome. It really helped that this community was only 5 minutes from my house, as I am the primary caregiver for my parents.

If you’re new to this assisted living world, A Place For Mom has so many resources online to help you navigate this journey with your family. Articles like Moving to Assisted Living Checklist can really help you think about all the things you will be dealing with as you prepare for the move. There’s a lot to think about, especially if you’re moving parents out of their home. You have to think about what to take with them, what furniture will fit in the room and how to make them comfortable in their new environment. We did that for mom and dad both, assuring that they had familiar things around them for comfort.

You may just be starting this journey with a senior in your life. Sometimes family members don’t agree on these things, but Talking to Family When You Can No Longer Care for an Elderly Parent is a good source of information to read. My family (me, my sister, Renee and my niece, Lauren have all been on the same page with all of these decisions and it helps to have a united front. I feel for families who don’t have that unity, it’s a hard enough journey without the stress involved when there are disagreements about how to proceed. When a loved one can no longer take care of themselves at home, so many things become a danger to them and if it’s not feasible to move in with family, the care is too much, then an assisted living and memory care community are life savers. They certainly have been for us.t

So how is dad doing after losing mom 6 months ago? He’s doing very well. He’s stable and content, often telling me that he’s happy that he’s in such a nice place. He acknowledges that they take good care of him, he gets 3 meals a day and his daily needs are taken care of. That really gives me peace of mind when I travel and am not around for a few days. I know the care manager and we can message each other if something comes up. Having this peace of mind is priceless and we are so glad that we made the decision 3 years ago to move them out of their house. Mom had the burden of trying to look after dad in his stages of early dementia and it was wearing her out.

I visit dad a few times a week and he’s upbeat, positive, grateful and generally has a good disposition about his situation. Of course, he doesn’t totally comprehend that he’s in a memory care community, but he knows that he lives there and it’s become his new home. I take him outside to sit on the front porch pretty often. He loves to watch the traffic go by and the trains pass in town. He loves seeing the blue sky and always comments on that. I cut his fingernails regularly and he’s always grateful and says thank you very much.

I’m grateful for communities like this that take care of the elderly. It’s a much needed benefit at his stage of life. Living with dementia is not easy, but we navigate that as well. He doesn’t always remember that mom has passed away. He will say things like “my wife is around here somewhere.” Instead of reminding him over and over that she has passed, I tell him that I check on her and she’s doing fine. He will say “good, I’m glad to hear that.” It gives him peace of mind knowing she’s OK. We felt this was the best way to handle that situation. At first, I did tell him she had passed that first month when he asked a few times, but now I just deflect and we don’t dwell on that. He’s not remembering names now. He seems to still know that I’m his daughter, he always lights up when I come in, but when I asked him my name last week, he couldn’t recall until I told him. So, the journey with dementia continues.

Choosing a memory care community is something I had never had experience with, but we are still happy with our Dogwood Forest choice. A family in my dad’s old church just moved their beloved mom into Dogwood and it’s good to see that they are getting her settled in as well. I can see in their faces that this is all new and a bit overwhelming and I remember that feeling well. I sometimes take Daisy to see Dad and that gives us something to talk about. He loves it when I bring him ice cream, so I try to do that pretty often. Ice cream is his favorite!

I’d definitely encourage anyone to call A Place for Mom if you’re starting this process or you just want to prepare yourself and have a plan in place for when the time comes. Don’t wait until something bad happens and you’re forced to make a quick decision. Arm yourself with good solid information before you have to use it and you’ll be so happy you did.

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