Moving Mom Phase I

This series of articles will detail the experiences I’ve had moving my 88-year old mother into an assisted living facility here in Charleston, South Carolina.
My objective is to be humorous, practical and to offer some lessons learned. The move happened in phases and I will describe Phase I as the suggestion that she consider moving.
For years I never thought I would live near my mother again. Due to marriage and the military, I had moved away from my family in New Jersey almost 19 years ago.
Mom is now 88, and the majority of her problems started about three years ago. Her most challenging issues are hyponutremia (Sodium level in blood too low), dizziness and unsteadiness.
My sister and brother-in-law have been her constant caretakers and have taken her in for months after various bouts of rehab. She has a devoted “staff” (a collection of wonderful church friends) that would do anything they could for her.
In January, I was organizing a client’s residence in an assisted living facility close to me when I got the inescapable idea of moving my Mom down here.
I already knew and trusted the leaders in that facility. The price was about a third of anything in PA or NJ, I would be able to enjoy my mother being near me again, and at the same time allow my sister to regain her life with her husband.
Since I own a concierge business for baby boomers and seniors, (At Your Service Concierge)I would be able to plan and execute the entire move, including the sale of her unwanted items on a local online estate auction.
Since Mom has a great Long term care policy I didn’t want her not to benefit from it since she had been paying premiums for decades.
I called my sister before talking to Mom and asked her opinion; especially since I wanted to be sensitive to her feelings in case Mom actually did end up moving away.
She was very enthusiastic, especially when she mentioned all the bills Mom had incurred while living on her own that would go away. From every angle it was a win-win.
I intentionally made the telephone pitch on a blizzardy day in January; knowing that Mom hates to be cold. In that initial conversation I described the financial benefits, the amenities of the facility, the weather, the pleasure I would have to have her live near me and the relocation process.
I would fly up there, pack up her unwanted items, bring them back via a truck and sell them on auction while setting up her new place. With surprisingly little hesitation, she agreed and I was thrilled!
So began the planning process….
Lessons learned during this phase:
Get thorough pre-approval from the long-term-care policy provider to include the levels of care required before any contract is signed so there will be no future issues.
Give your parent ample time to downsize. I had the blessing of my patient sister who was able to take off for two weeks while culling items to sell or keep without overwhelming her.
Be sensitive to your parents’ idea of time. My time frame for being able to execute the move was far different from my Mom’s, whose main objection was the proper amount of time needed to sort through her mountains of “papers”.
Try to put yourself in your parent’s shoes. Moving is an exciting, yet stressful experience especially as you age and you feel you are losing control of your life activities.
Having moved many times and without having a lot of possessions beyond furniture, I thought it was far simpler than my mother could grasp. You’ll be surprised at the quantities of items your parents’ have gathered.
For example; why does Mom need 3 boxes of partially used tubes of various ointments?
My grandmother had dementia which encouraged my mother to buy the long-term-care policy at a time when they were not so well-known. From this, I am learning to plan for my own aging process.
I am sharing this information with my husband as well so we can plan for his parents. I realize that we may not be able to rely on our children to take care of us in the manner that we are trying to do for our parents.
There will be times when your parent gets stressed, tired and emotional. She used the term “railroaded” in a conversation which really hurt my feelings.
Don’t take this personally; if you are truly trying to make a better life for your parent and you are operating in your parent’s best interest, then proceed with patience but firmness so you can get your own life back on track.
Thoroughly vet the assisted living facility. Food and the meal-time process is crucial, especially when your parent needs to be on a restricted diet.
Be sensitive to the cultural food differences when you move your parent to a different region of the country. I suggest eating a couple of meals at the facility as well. Plan out the options your parent will have for transportation to and from appointments, shopping, etc.….
If your parent doesn’t get to see the facility before she moves in, make certain to plan according to the space provided so you can set up a cozy yet functional living arrangement.
I inadvertently misled my mother when I used the term “front porch”. This is the personal space available for decoration outside the resident’s room door, however my mother thought she would be have a patio right outside her room.
Finally my mother is still mentally sharp and desires meaningful conversation so be sure to ask about the possibility for companionship at mealtimes and during other activities.
The next phase will cover my flight with my son to retrieve her items including packing, organizing of her space and sale of her items in an online estate sale. read more

Golf, Cornhole and Okra Pickles

The title for this article is a bit quirky. What I am really writing about in this still-new year is that if you are actively living and experiencing new people and events, you can have some new “likes”, “dislikes”, and “never-again(s)!”

Due to college/career,adventures, and my Army Reserve obligations, I (and later with my husband) have lived in over 15 places for more than three months. We just moved again last year to Stono Ferry, SC; moving is definitely a joint never-again. However, the location for our last move was strategically chosen because my husband loves golf and plays and understands the game very well. One day I went with him to the practice range and after a few drives myself with great coaching, I was hooked. We now have an activity that we can enjoy together individually and as a couple as life allows.

Become an Informed Citizen

A couple of years ago, I read an article encouraging readers to take the time to research and know the answers to a few basic questions about our local, state and federal governments. I have kept it in a box with my other “someday” projects.

However, the recent election cycle and the protests that ensued really encouraged me to get my house in order and be able to nail down answers to questions about my governments that are truly rather important. I have been fascinated by the various “interviews on the street” on TV of people, some of them protesters, who don’t even know what the issues are they are protesting about when asked. read more

“Honor Your Parents”……..Always?

Recently my friend who is a caregiver  told me she felt obligated to care for her cranky elderly mother (whom she loved but never really liked), because she suspected mild dementia and worried about leaving her alone. I told her how important it is to have her mother evaluated by a dementia specialist immediately because with early diagnosis and treatment the condition can be addressed more properly with the correct information.

When the family member we are trying to care for is impossible to please, it’s often because of long-standing family dynamics. I’m not talking about someone in intolerable pain, or someone who has little control over their brain because of dementia or Alzheimer’s. In those cases, we often need to get the help of professionals, whether it’s hospice for end-of-life pain or a memory unit for Alzheimer’s patients who may not be safe at home. read more

Planning For Digital Assets After Death

Recently, I wrote about my brother’s passing and factors related to processing death of a sibling as an adult. As my sister and I were discussing the article, the topics of what happens to accrued points and miles upon death as well as other digital accounts such as Facebook and Twitter came up.

Since I had no knowledge in this area, I researched these topics and I will present the most current information about digital asset management, according to South Carolina law.

Regarding how accrued points and miles are processed upon one’s death, it is best to query the individual hotel, airline or credit card because policies vary across the board, with some allowing transfer to a spouse but not to children (as in the case if mentioned in a will). A website I found helpful, the Points Guy, offers a lot of tips on how you can manage points and miles, to include gifting them to people and/or charities while you are still alive. It’s prudent to know what programs your spouse is involved in; a number of articles stated there are thousands of unused points due to death with a lot of value. (‘Til death do us part: Loyalty rewards don’t live on) read more

Making Exercise a Top Priority

I have been out of the military for over sixteen years but one of the disciplines I still maintain is my dedication to regular exercise. I also entered the military as a multi-sport athlete so I have enjoyed athletic competition for a long time as well. Regardless, whatever love-hate relationship you have had with getting your body moving in the past, you should realize that regular exercise is crucial to your quality of life, most importantly as we approach our “golden years”

The only way your fitness will become and remain a priority is if you choose to make it so, even if you have never exercised at all. It may not be easy, but it’s possible, and most of all, it’s important to your health. The key is to develop a routine that complements your new lifestyle–here’s how you do it: read more

Moving Mom The Final Phase

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!) read more

Bereaving Adult Loss of a Sibling

On February 3rd, I received an End of mail forwarding service notification from the USPS. At first I didn’t read it because I assumed it concerned my recent move in October.

But the notification concerned another event. I had set up the mail forwarding for my brother. Last March, Brian passed away in an isolated living arrangement in Washington. He was 59 and the oldest of my three siblings.

Whether our sibling was younger or older, whether the death was sudden or anticipated, whether we were very close to our sibling throughout our lives or experienced periods of separation, we all experience grieving when a brother or sister dies. read more

Self-Identity as a First Time Grandparent

We are now grandparents and I am struggling with my self-identity.

To clarify, I know how to be a:

  • Daughter and Sister
  • Soldier
  • Military Officer
  • Student
  • Wife
  • Mother
  • Manager
  • Volunteer
  • Business Owner
  • Veteran

To try to get some perspective, I started to reflect on the relationship I had with my only grandparent, my tough, German immigrant Nana. Living in New Jersey, my mother would take us on trips to see Nana in Wading River on Long Island, New York. When I was born my Nana was ten years older than I am now, so age was a factor.

I remember a lot of rules:

  • I could not get up early because she needed her “peace” in the morning with her coffee and bread and she wanted to be alone.
  • We had to finish everything on our plate. She was a great cook, but at times this nine-year-old could not stomach Swiss Chard which sent her into a tizzy.
  • We played a card game called Kings in the Corner, but if I won too many games, she would throw the cards down and storm off to bed. This would make the situation even more awkward because I had to sleep with her when I visited and I wasn’t allowed to untuck the blanket.

However, recently I discovered a lot of letters and cards she wrote back to me and she was supportive, loving and interested in my life. She was a tough, smart lady and later owned Mueller’s Deli in Wading River for many years. She was well-recognized in that area as a shrewd business person. read more

Veteran Presence in Charleston, South Carolina

According to the U.S. census, with a time frame of 2011 to 2015, there are 9,124 veterans living in Charleston City  and 29,554 veterans living in Charleston County. According to another source,  from Data USA, of the 21,812 veterans living in Charleston County, the numbers break down as follows:

  1. WW II (665) (3%)
  2. Korea (2087) (10%)
  3. Vietnam  (11348) (52%)
  4. Gulf (1990(s)) (3842) (17%)
  5. Gulf (2001-) (3870) 18%

In addition, in 2012 there were 1862 veteran-owned firms in Charleston city and 4,592 veteran-owned firms in Charleston County.

Bottom line, there are a lot of veterans of all ages living all around us.  American Legion Post 147 on James Island  is having a Veteran Resource Day on Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Our goal is to conduct an outreach as well as foster a sense of community among our veterans and their families. read more

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Nancy is the owner of “At Your Service Concierge”. She has an MBA and is a veteran with over a decade of customer service and logistics experience. She is also a Notary and can she can assist you or perhaps your parents with all of your personal assistance and lifestyle management needs. Nancy is an Accredited VA Claims Agent.