This article was originally going to be titled Phase III, after I wrote Moving Mom Phase I and Moving Mom Phase II, I was going to relate how my mother was adjusting to life in Charleston, SC, and I had planned to write about how we had worked out all the kinks of her relocation here.
However, in December, I brought my mother back to Pennsylvania to another assisted living facility at her request. My sister located and vetted a facility very close to her so we all made the joint decision to see if she would be happier (Translated, have less to complain about!)
I have a few poignant recollections from the nine months I had my mother in my daily life again:
- We both had the chance to worship together. I took her to my church many times and she attended devotions at her facility here twice a week. We had the opportunity to talk about what faith meant to us and how we applied it in our lives. Previously, this had not been a topic that came up often during phone calls or brief, infrequent visits as I have lived away from her for more than 30 years.
- I really enjoyed learning more about her and consequently, more about seniors. I truly believe I have a passion for helping them. I enjoy errands, shopping, administrative tasks and decluttering. These activities are crucial to improving a senior’s quality of life and I have the patience and skill. (At Your Service Concierge). I was also forced to ponder how I and my husband should manage our senior years and we initiated many crucial planning conversations with his parents who do not live in South Carolina either. Do your best to try to imagine what it is like to be 90 years old.
- Since Charleston will always be my home, I do have a lot of places that, when I frequent again, I can now recollect that I was there with my mother. Also, I was able to have her in my home for Christmas and show her my new home.
Now, here are some practical takeaways that you may be able to use:
- Guard your time. Even if your parent is in an assisted living facility, certain parents will demand a lot of attention and not will not have a problem verbally wishing they could see you more often. They may not consider the time you are using for doctor’s visits, errands and completing tasks for them as “time spent”. I used a lot of time just going back to stores to return items. Discuss openly the amount of time you have and don’t shortchange your own life and your spouse and children. (If you don’t have enough time, call a senior expert!)
- Prepare for disappointment if your children are not as eager to go see their grandmother as you may have been. I assumed my children would, but it did not happen very often; this made it awkward at times for myself and my Mom.
- Accept that some individuals are not ever going to be ‘happy’. Despite my best efforts, my mother was not content living here. Yet, she is now complaining to my sister about the same issues in Pennsylvania. Remember to address the legitimate concerns; let the other gripes go in one ear and out the other. I have learned that some older people complain so they can legitimize their existence; this means that if they have something to comment on at least they have something to do.
- Make a concerted effort to get important paperwork organized and placed in a convenient place. I also know from working with veterans as an Accredited VA Claims Agent that many seniors (and their children) do not know where a lot of their important documents are. Unnecessary delays occur when one needs to locate such papers or request replacements.
As I put everything in perspective, I must state that I am grateful I was awarded the opportunity to do the best job I could in taking care of my mother. I was not so fortunate regarding my Dad; he died over 25 years ago. So whatever the situation is with your parent or senior relative, try to serve them to the best of your ability in regards to financial, emotional and spiritual needs as your time and lifestyle allows. Family dynamics are not the same, but at the very least make the attempt to serve and give back to your parents. My mother for the most part did the best job she could in raising me, and tried to give me good advice as I entered my adult years. Now the roles have changed as her children try to make her remaining years as pleasant as possible.
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