We just hit the one year mark of moving Mom into a nursing home/assisted living full-time. Here’s how the year shook out:
The first couple months after Mom moved in, she was not pleased. I had regular phone calls complaining and asking to go back to her house. My siblings and I stood firm that it wasn’t an option. Complaining lessened after about five months. I haven’t heard a complaint in recent memory.
At the time we moved Mom into Oak Leaf Village, she had been hospitalized for three straight months. She was requiring Level 2 nursing care, physical therapy, speech therapy, was utilizing a walker to ambulate, and was in poor health. Her health has improved dramatically. Mom is no longer requiring speech therapy and did not have a single clinical episode for all of 2019.
The side effects of some of her drugs, and effects of aging are becoming more pronounced. Specifically, Mom has developed tardive dyskinesia. I had never heard of it. The shortest way to explain it, is the symptoms of it look very similar to Parkinson’s disease. She has involuntary tremors in her face and hands which was caused by years of taking anti-psychotics. To learn more about tardive dyskinesia, click here.
Life has improved for Mom tremendously. Since she is living in an apartment within a community, she has regular social engagement. She joined the gardening club, does arts and crafts, goes to concerts, out to eat, and she even started a book club. The community has a shuttle for its residents that goes to Kroger at-least once a week, and makes other trips depending on resident interest/demand.
Making this decision was not cheap, that’s for sure. After offsetting Mom’s income, her out of pocket for the year was about $42k. I go indepth on the costs in another post, so you number crunchers can see that here.
Change to Care Giving
My life has changed dramatically for the better. Prior to this, I was juggling an awful lot to keep Mom in her home. Grocery delivery, handymen, lawn services, locksmiths (there is a story), nurses, doctor’s appointments, sending her Uber’s, finances, dealing with law enforcement, neighbors – it was just too much.
It wasn’t uncommon to be awoken at 11:30pm by a telephone call from a store, restaurant, or law enforcement because Mom was lost somewhere or refused to leave a space. That was clearly a result of her being in poor health.
I literally HATED going into her home. It was always in total disarray and it literally drove me nuts. Now, I have hardly ANY of that stuff.
Primary care is handled by her community, as well as, dental, physical therapy, speech therapy, and podiatry. The only doctor appointment I still attend is psychiatry – mostly because she needs transportation to it.
Every other service provider is now gone and one less person to deal with. One less phone call, conversation, check, and minute taken from my life. Best of all, I only hear from her care providers when there is a change in the course of treatment or they are running low on a medication. It’s awesome.
Mom’s apartment gets swept and a light cleaning once a week. Sure, she still has clutter, but it isn’t nearly as overwhelming.
I still take care of her finances. To make that easier, I’ve setup all of the payees in her online bill pay, and all of her bills come to my office. Bill comes in, it gets paid, goes in her file, move on.
Saving Our Greatest Commodity
Perhaps the greatest benefit to this transition is that I am not losing more units of what I consider the greatest commodity we have – time. It is of limited supply, and to a large extent, we don’t know when ours will run out. Now, hopefully, Mom and I can make better use of our shared time.