August 04, 2006

Difficult

The assisted living home is lovely, with big windows that let in sunshine, a courtyard with flower gardens, a dining area that looks more like a nice restaurant, a cheerful staff, beautiful efficiency apartments, and everything an elderly person could ask for. And yet, it was a difficult move.

My mother-in-law had toured the facility and agreed that she wanted to move there. She needs help with everything from taking a shower to sorting out her medications. Her eyesight is failing. She liked the place and all the services it has to offer. The building is only about a mile from where she lives now, within fifteen miles of both of her sons. And yet, it was a difficult move.

Today we moved my mother-in-law out of a home she's lived in for 47 years. It's the home she moved into soon after she married, the home where she raised her children, the home of 47 Christmas trees, 47 Easter celebrations, and 47 summers. It's a home she can no longer take care of, with a driveway that becomes dangerous on icy winter days, a garage that holds a car she can no longer drive. It is no longer a house that is safe for someone with failing eyesight and shaky limbs. And yet, it was difficult for her to leave.

Her children and children-in-law and grandchildren all agreed that this was the best move. We all agreed that new place was wonderful. We knew she would cry this morning when we arrived to move her in, but that in the long run she would be pleased with the move. We all knew it was the right thing to do, that she needs the help of a staff who is there 24 hours each day. For the last few years, her three kids have spent endless hours taking care of her house, driving her places, shopping for her, doing errands for her, answering her phone calls in the middle of the night, taking her to countless doctors, and reassuring her when she gets scared by a thunderstorm or anxious over some medication. We all knew the time had come to move her, that the care we could provide on an almost daily basis was no longer enough.

And still, it was a difficult move.

36 comments:

Lisa V said...

It is rough making that move. My grandmother lived in a senior apartment for her last 10 years. It was for the best, it eventually became "home" and "Gram's". But moving there was closing the chapter of a huge portion of her life.

May your mother-in-law's quickly feel familiar and comfortable for her.

mc said...

I suspect there is a move like that in my family's near future, too... I don't think it's ever easy.

RLT said...

I remember well when we had to do this with my grandmother. The fact that this place is so close to where your mother-in-law was living makes such an enormous difference. It is only her residence that is changing and, although that is a major part of her life, the people in it are even more important. Unfortunately, it was necessary for my grandmother to move away from where she’d lived all of her life to a city where she knew no one and had only a handful of grandchildren and great-grandchildren to visit her on a regular basis. But, yes, it is always hard to make a move like that. Hopefully, it won't be too, too long before she adjusts.

Piece of Work said...

My grandmother has been living in the old folks home for 15 years, and she still complains about it. She's very stubborn. We all feel very fortunate that my grandather forced the move while he was still alive--had we had to insist on it after his death, I'm not sure what would have happened. My grandmother, she is very stubborn.
Anyway, it IS difficult, for everyone. So many of my childhood memories are at my grandparents farm in PA; I hate that we've had to give up making more of those these last 15 years too. It sucks, even though it's necessary, and better in many ways.

oliviacw said...

It is difficult - in the past 5 years, both of my grandmothers had to make such a move, even though both had sworn that they would live out their days in their own houses. But when you're over 90, that becomes very difficult.

However, some people do adjust quickly - one of my grandmothers absolutely loves her new home, because she's always liked being around people and she now gets to play cards whenever she wants to. The other (with more difficult health issues, who also had to move further) has had a harder time - the only thing that keeps her going is that she has her dog with her still. Hopefully, with all your family still close by, your mother-in-law will adjust quickly.

Bardiac said...

I dread that move for myself already, and it's a good 25+ years away.

I hope she finds good care, friends, and lots to do there, and adjusts quickly.

Shelly said...

Hoping for the best adjustment for all of you in such a major transition.

Kate said...

Thinking of you during the difficult move. Lots of love to you and your family.

Phantom Scribbler said...

It is tough no matter what. Hugs to you all.

Liesl said...

Such a hard time for everyone. I'm wishing everyone a peaceful transition.

Linda (FM) said...

Three summers ago we moved my mom from the home she'd lived in for 19 years, the longest she'd ever lived anywhere. It was a difficult move.

Blessings to you all.

Miranda said...

I spent yet another drive home from Grandma's sobbing tonight because she really can't take care of herself and I can't do it from afar either much longer.

I cried when I read this post because at least your mother-in-law will be safe and cared for. It hurts so much not knowing that for my grandmother who lives too far to drop in on more than once a week.

(o) and best wishes to your whole family. It is such a painful chapter for everyone.

peripateticpolarbear said...

(o)

Chip said...

it's sad but it's good that she's in a place that can serve her needs. My grandparents refused to even consider leaving their own home and it ended in disaster and much sadness. Now my wife's mom is headed in that same direction, also refusing to consider anything other than her own apartment. I know it must be hard, but I hope if I get to that stage I'll remember this and be able to let go.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

This must be hard. Perhaps I'm fortunate that my mom works in a decent nursing home and does not dread moving into one as necessary.... at least, that is what she says now, living in her own place :).

I hope that her new place has some social programs and opportunities. Many of my older relatives have enjoyed having their friends in the building. Since they don't need a ride to be social, they are more independent than when they were in their own homes. They also like the fact that when their kids come to visit, they can actually visit instead of doing the laundry and mowing the lawn.

Psycho Kitty said...

It is hard.
xo

Yankee, Transferred said...

Hard, very hard. Hugs to all.

Sally said...

Hard on everyone I guess... so many memories to leave behind

Marni said...

My heart goes out to you and your family. That is difficult, but is definitely the best for everyone.

Marie said...

Brilliant post. I love the way you convey the emotions. It IS hard, but so right. We didn't do as much for my grandmother and she became increasingly frightened and confused and, oddly, angry. She lived her last few years in a kind of paranoid frustration. So thank God that you all are doing the difficult work now. Prayers and hugs to you all.

Scrivener said...

It is very hard, but you have handled everything with such grace and compassion. Good for you for facing the difficult but important work.

kayni said...

I worked in several assisted living and nursing homes, and I do see where you're coming from. It's difficult to let go, but sometimes, letting go is the best thing you can do. I'm sure your mother-in-law will be taken cared of very well.

Gannet Girl said...

Beautiful post.

It IS hard. My grandmother (at 100) has been out of her home for about 12-14 years now. It's also hard to see the house we all remember as the scene of so many events large and small slowly deteriorate (it hasn't been either sold or cared for) and hard to see the woman who was such a vibrant hostess and conversationalist shrink into the darkness of deafness and blindness.

Kristen said...

OH, man. I can imagine how difficult that would be. My grandmother made a similar move several years before her death and it was very sad, saying goodbye to all those years in a house that represented so much more than walls and carpet.

cheesehead said...

(o)

revabi said...

Yes, very difficult indeed. Prayers for you both going through this.

liz said...

Hugs.

Sue said...

(o)

Dafina Girl said...

So sorry -- we went through the same thing with my great-grandmother a few years ago. I can't imagine living in one home for 47 years....

jo(e) said...

Thanks for all the supportive comments everyone. We've had lots of phone calls from my mother-in-law, and we've gone over there several times, but I think she is starting to get used to the place. I think after a period of adjustment, she is going to be fine.

Now we just have to tackle the issue of what to do with her house and all the stuff in it ....

DaniGirl said...

Oh jo(e) - that's tough. ((Hugs)) to you and your family. It'll get better, for you and for her.

Beth said...

Difficult and heartbreaking to read, too, as we all move toward the age where we'll have to make these decisions.

halloweenlover said...

It is always so terribly hard. I hope she settles in quickly and makes some friends.

BeachMama said...

We have been through a move like that. It is never easy. She will adjust to her new place and hopefully will love it once she gets to meet some new friends.

Anonymous said...

We are going through the same thing right now. Mom has dementia so she really can't remember day to day why she has moved. At this point it's all so hard. I don't second guess my decision to move her, it's just hard to deal with it everyday. After years of being the caregiver I am worn out yet I can't be, I have to go on and be strong for her. So many of us are going through this right now. I was searching online for ideas to cope and came across your site.

the reverend mommy said...

Just catching up with my summer reading =o)

I know how hard this is for all involved. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Oh, and expect a "Blue Period" -- there are those in my family who call them "Picasso moments"; where noses will seem askew to her and she mourns the loss of her independence. It's a hard thing, but she probably will go through it.