Two weeks from now, Dad will be here, getting ready to move into an assisted living residence. Only he won’t know that is what he is getting ready to do. Mom is working on her end, gathering the clothes that he will need, scheduling doctors’ appointments to get necessary paperwork filled out and signed, and having dinners with friends who won’t be able to travel half-way across the country to visit Dad. She is also mentally preparing for the day, in less than a month, when she will be living alone for the first time in her life.
On my end, I am gathering furniture, buying linens and toiletries, arranging for transfer of Dad’s prescriptions, and trying to imagine what it will be like with Dad living one place and Mom another.
I like the facility we have chosen – it isn’t Mom’s first choice, but it is the only place with an opening right now. It is secure, and geared toward Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients. Dad will have his own room, but will be sharing common areas (meals, activities, and social time) with up to 23 other residents. The setting is wooded and peaceful, with walking paths that I can take him on to get fresh air. It is only 6 miles from school and 7 miles from home, so it will be convenient to visit frequently. If I stop by on my way home in the afternoon, it will extend my commute from 8 miles to 13 miles – a small sacrifice to be able to see him often!
The next two weeks will fly by – our family is facing a big change. I know it is for the best… Dad will have 24/7 care; Mom will be less stressed over caring for him and still having to take care of their home and investment properties; my brother and I will worry less about what is happening to Dad, knowing that he is being cared for by professionals. On the other hand, we are all a little scared. Scared of the unknown, scared of what we know is coming, but not knowing how soon that will be, scared that we are moving him away from his home, even though he doesn’t really know it is his home. And just a little scared about what all this change will mean for our family.
We will all have to find courage to get through this transition. There will be some tears, but hopefully we can lean on each other. I know this will be harder on my mom, my brother and me than it will be on Dad. I also know it will be the hardest on Mom. I have a good support system – my partner and many good friends. Mom has lots of good friends, too – I hope she feels she can lean on them when she needs to. And that she will come visit as often as she wants. Maybe one day, she will decide it makes more sense to move here, but in the meantime, my guest room is always available for her to use.