Time for a parent update and it’s definitely good news and bad news. They moved into Dogwood Forest 4 weeks ago, October 1st and they’re still getting settled in. The good news is that mom absolutely loves it, is thriving and doing so well. The bad news is that dad is struggling still after moving to memory care after that first weekend. You can catch up with all 3 posts about their move if you’ve missed it so far.
I shared the why’s for moving in this post, Honor Thy Parents and the actual move, and then after one week there when we had to move dad to memory care after the first weekend. It’s been 3 weeks of ups and downs since then.
Dogwood Forest is such a nice place and mom has settled in so nicely. She loves her room and spaces as well as the facility itself. She’s doing lots of activities like bingo, sittercize, and participating in a Bible study with some folks. She’s met some of the nicest ladies and one of them that she likes a lot is just two doors down from here, so that’s nice. There are more women than men in assisted living and that’s good for her as she is now enjoying social time that she didn’t have living at home with dad. Living with someone who has dementia is difficult as the real conversations go away and it turns into questions and answers all day long. She was starved for social activities with other people and I’m so glad she’s getting that here.
This is part of the lobby area, like a big living room with 2 fireplaces and a huge aquarium. It’s often filled with residents enjoying the fire and chatting here together. I’ve seen them gather here with a guitar playing girl who was singing to and with them. It’s a beautiful facility with lots of amenities and outdoor spaces. I love that it sits right in downtown Acworth and has a small town feel when you go outside. Mom has settled in so well. I shared her apartment last time and it really is a haven for her, a place she can rest and find comfort. No more work for her! That’s the best part, we are so happy she gets to rest and relax after working so hard taking care of daddy all these years. She has someone cleaning her apartment, doing laundry, and enjoys 3 delicious meals a day. She loves the food and has nothing but good things to say about that. I know she’s feeling pampered being there and that makes me so happy for her.
Her one bedroom apartment is just perfect and it’s so nice that it has a private balcony and she can enjoy the outdoors. We’ve had some beautiful fall days and she’s enjoyed sitting on the balcony too. She has full days now with no work and that’s the best part. She can do as much or as little as she feels like.
We sat out on the balcony one day last week when I stopped by to visit. It gets a lot of sun and shade and is a great place to read and relax.
So back to dad. We didn’t see him for about a week when he was initially moved to memory care. We got updates every couple of days and they told us that he was doing fine. We told them to ask him to pray and so they did and now everyone calls him Pastor and I think he’s praying for all the meals. They said he was leading the morning group when they all come together and talk and share, so that was good to hear. We are hoping his Pastor heart will come out even more the longer he is there. Right now he can’t see much except what he’s missing and that’s home.
We did finally go in one day to see him after a week and 1/2 of not seeing him and it was good to see him and mom together again. He face lit up and he told her how much he missed her. I sat with them and took it all in. He was sweet and told her how happy he was to see her and it was a good first visit.
We looked around a bit and let him show us around his area. There are about 27 people in memory care I think. About 1/2 of them seem to be in worse shape than he is mentally and physically, but some are better than others. It’s heart breaking to see them at this stage, but I know that so many families deal with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s not easy at all to see our loved ones lose their memories and their mental faculties.
We took him outside where they have a nice courtyard with rocking chairs and visited for a bit before we left. That visit didn’t go downhill too badly and we spent about an hour with him and then made an excuse that mom had to go to the doctor and had to leave, but we would be back. He let us walk out the door without any fuss.
A couple of days later I went and got him again and we went outside to the front porch rocking chairs, where a sweet couple friends of theirs came to visit, a couple from their church who they’ve known for about 40 years. I’m not sure Dad knew exactly who they were but he sat and chatted with the husband for a long while, as they’ve always done. I was listening to him talk about wanting to go home and that he couldn’t wait to leave this place and get back home as soon as he could.
One of the directors captured this picture of dad one day and it was a sweet pic to see. I loved seeing his big smile. We are so hoping that the new meds he is on will help with his dementia and help him with calmness eventually. It will take time to see how they will work and to get them adjusted better. After seeing him the first couple of visits in the last couple of weeks, the next visits didn’t go as well.
We also had incidents of him losing/misplacing his wallet and claiming it was stolen and gone. I went in his room twice that first week and found his wallet and returned it to him. He was so happy to see it and after the second episode we talked him into giving the wallet to mom to hold. I even wrote a note for him so he could read the note and know that mom had his wallet. That lasted a few days and then they came to get mom and told her he wanted to see her. She went over there and he insisted on getting his wallet back, adamant about it so she gave it back to him. We knew this was going to be a continual problem and it has been.
Once he got it back, he “lost” it again and insisted it was stolen and gone. It was found once again and given back to him and he agreed once again to give it to mom, so she has it now. I’m sure he will demand it back any day now. We think we might get another wallet and give it to him without anything in it. This is the loop of dementia apparently. They can’t process these things and insist on one set of facts when in fact it’s not true. He had carried that note that I wrote that said “Iris has your wallet” around in his pocket and when he lost it for the 3rd time, when I told him that mom had given it back to him, he insisted she did not give it back to him. He had a note that said she had it. We are learning how this stuff works. We knew his dementia was getting worse and his reasoning is non-existent. It’s just a hard place to be, but we hope it will get somewhat better with time. We hope he can come to a place of acceptance and a level of contentment eventually, we’ve heard most people do.
We’ve gone the last 2 Sundays to have lunch with mom and after lunch we all went over (me, Mark, and mom) to visit him. The memory care facility is a wing off the back of the assisted living with a keypad we can use to go in and out at any time. The weather has been so nice so we sat outside with him which is his happy place. We hope that he will go outside more and more, but he may not remember how to get out there by himself. I’ve told some of the staff over there that he loves to go outside so I hope they will take him periodically on good days.
Both Sundays, the conversations spiralled quickly and all he could talk about was going home. Where was his car and keys, he wanted to drive himself home and if he couldn’t do that, he would walk. Here we go again. It’s so sad that he can’t comprehend where they are in life now, that they can’t take care of themselves and need to have help and daily care, but it’s just not possible for his brain to process that. He would say over and over again how miserable he is, he doesn’t want to be there, he just wants to go home. We would tell him they needed to be there for mom to get help and just a couple minutes later it would start all over again. When can we go home? He would say they could go home and hire someone to help them. He’s even lucid enough to come up with that idea and plead to go home, please don’t leave him there. It breaks our heart and really makes mom so sad that she cries when she leaves him. She hates that he has to be there, apart from her, but we have to make sure he is safe and protected and taken care of. We can’t have him ranting everyday to go home and blaming mom for their circumstances and where they are now.
We know that his entire world has been turned upside down and it’s our doing that made this decision, but all of the family decided on this together, with mom driving the decision. He can’t possibly understand it all. We know it’s for the best, we can’t second guess our decision. We’ve talked multiple times about the fact that even if they had stayed home and hired help every single day that wouldn’t satisfy him either. He gave my mom a hard time almost weekly even having someone coming in 2 or 3 days a week for 3 hours at a time. He would never be happy with having someone in his house for extended periods of times which is what they would need as they age even more. I just can’t take care of them like they need to be taken care of. Mom was completely exhausted with having all the burden of the house, meals, bills, laundry, home maintenance, even the yard work. Dad did mow the grass with his riding lawn mower, but that was the extent of his help with the yard. The rest of the yard needed much more help which had to be hired out too. He wasn’t happy when we hired some yard work either for a short time.
So it was an ongoing battle with anything mom tried to hire out. Not to mention his driving. That was another battle that would not have stopped with them being at home. It was horrible going through that with him when we took his keys in July and I had to give his car keys back before they moved because he was so irate about it all. Thank goodness, he didn’t try to drive, but if he was left at home I am sure he would have tried. He’s threatened again since they moved to call the police on me and mom for keeping his car from him and keeping him from going home. It’s so sad to deal with, but that is dementia. It’s not him it’s the dementia. We are learning more about it as we go along. I’ve got some books to read to help me deal with his issues and mom as well. We are meeting other families there who have the same issues. Husbands who are in assisted living that have wives over in memory care where dad is. We are definitely not alone in this situation. So we wait it out and hope and pray that he can settle down eventually and find some sort of contentment. I can see why he’s not happy, memory care is definitely more isolating than the assisted living side. If there’s anyway he can settle in and get some sense of contentment eventually, we will see if there’s a possibility that he can go back with mom in assisted living, but we have no idea if it can happen or not. Time will tell. It all depends on what happens and if he can be trusted to go back and settle in with her. I know he would be happier with being with her there, but it might not be possible. We don’t want her to continue to have the burden of caring for dad as he gets worse. It’s so nice that he’s taken care of and we know he’s safe and sound and we can see him as often as we want. He might not be happy yet, but we hope that more and more we can interact with him often and things will get better for him.
I’m just sharing the absolute truth of what we’ve experienced and I hope this helps others who are experiencing similar situations. Dealing with dementia is not easy, we are still learning as we go. We are not experts on this subject and have so much more to learn, but it’s nice to be in a community of other people who have their own issues and problems with aging loved ones. We are all in this together and it’s nice to not be alone. The families and people we have met there have been such a blessing. Aging is not easy, but I’m happy to be there for my parents as we walk through this journey of getting older and needing even more care. We know they are both taken care of on a daily basis and that gives us such comfort. Having them both separated in two different spaces is definitely more expensive than it would have been if they could stay together, but we are so grateful that they saved their money and prepared for such a time as this (even if Dad never wanted to spend their money). We know we are fortunate that they have the means to do this. Walking this road with loved ones isn’t an easy journey, but I know that God will see us through. Mom has a lot of faith as well and that gets her through every single day. Thank you all for following along on our journey with us. I hope our story helps someone else as you prepare for this with your loved ones. There’s no easy answer at all, but we all have to do the best we can as these days unfold. I’ll be sure and keep you updated at least once a month or so as time goes on. It’s a little ironic that both of my mom’s living siblings, her younger brothers and their wives (one in FL and one in SC) are both going to assisted living facilities as well. One couple has already moved in and one is moving in December. They have come to the same conclusion that we did.
This is where we are as of now and we are hopeful for better days ahead for daddy. I’ve been sharing these sweet parents of mine here on this blog for going on 15 years, so it only makes sense to keep on sharing as we move forward in this aging process.
Gina D from Texas says
Thank you for sharing this journey with us. I know it is not an easy one but it is comforting to know others who are going through the same situation can empathize and understand. I’m praying your dad improves enough to either be content where he is or even be able to move back with your mom. Also praying for strength and comfort for your family. Be strong in the Lord. ❤️🙏🏻
My heart goes out to you and your entire family. My best friend has dementia and so did a close family member. Whenever I visit I take photos of friends or activities we did together. Sometimes I take a music cd of a favorite singer and we sing along. I wonder if you asked your dad about his childhood, or what he did during the war or his job would that help redirect him? Did he enjoy working in the garden? Does the nursing home have an area where he could plant some flowers? Even if he digs them up every day and replants them, it might be comforting to him. Wishing you the best of luck!
That’s what I was going to suggest about the plants—in a pot that’s elevated so he can sit and get his hands in the dirt. Or our aunt’s assisted living was gifted a raised up bed on legs by an Eagle Scout for his big project?
These are the best of times, and worst of times. I’m delighted for Mom and Dad. They have you and the whole family to look out for their wellbeing. Even if Dad doesn’t understand, he appreciates what you are doing on his behalf. Stay strong. The readers think of your folks as family and we are happy to see them doing so well at this stage of aging. Hugs to you and all the family. XOXO
You have a special family and I also enjoy updates on your very precious mom and dad. Praying for strength for you all.
Carol Landry says
Your words are so true and so heart-breaking. It was my husband. And he was still young. 62 when he was diagnosed. But here’s what I wanted to mention. There’s a documentary on Netflix. It’s titled “Alive Inside”. And it’s about the power of music to bring back the past. You should watch it. When I took my husband’s Ipod and put his music on for him to listen to, he smiled so big and even tapped his foot. ( which at that time he was in a wheelchair and had little ability to move). I will pray for you all. You are such a sweet daughter. God bless you!
Emily North says
So thankful for Sharing your story. My dad has suffered for 8 years at home with dementia and my mom at 82 is still his caregiver. He does go to a dementia daycare during the day to give her a break. I live within walking distance and help out daily. I can tell you from experience that he was taking off all the dementia meds and was put on risperdrol (seroquel) and he is much happier, no repeating thoughts with answers/questions, calm, less agitated and most important happy. Good luck to you, it’s a hard disease to watch and be a part of.
Becky in 'Bama says
Dealing with my Dad in this same situation, I won’t say it gets better (for the patient’s mental status), but as the disease progresses, there will be less angst towards you and your mom. Funny, but as much as my dad failed to know who I was, he NEVER forgot that he needed a car, and I needed to take him to such-and-such place to get a car and bring him the keys. 🙂 Men and their keys! Take heart, you all have done what is necessary, and it is so good to see your mom once again enjoying life. Love from the ‘Ham.
I am so happy to hear your Mom is thriving and is loving her new home. I am so sorry that your Dad cant be in the same mindset but that’s really impossible with dementia. Everyone I know who has had dementia whether in my own family or a friends family has become fixated on something. My husbands late grandmother was like your Dad and was continually losing/misplacing her wallet and then saying someone at the assisted living was stealing from her. Of course, we only left a few dollars in her wallet (to make her feel she had some money on hand) and eventually she stopped even mentioning her wallet. Another friend had a father who became fixated on getting his guns back. Of course, the last thing a person with dementia needs is a firearm and they were taken from him for his own safety but he drove them almost nuts everyday for months wanting his guns back or he was calling the police. Eventually, he forgot about the guns. I pray the wallet and the wanting to go back home with your Dad will ease with time. I just spoke with a friend of our family today and she was telling me how bad her Mom’s dementia had gotten and they will having to make some difficult decisions soon.
Kim Waldorf says
It is such a hard situation but pray as time goes on it will get better for him and all of you. I have followed you for many years now and you have the sweetest parents. Praying for your family tonight.
It is so hard to make these decisions. I have not experienced it, but have witnessed others’ experience. More than likely it would have continued to this point, even if they had stayed home, and then where would you be? Hopefully he will get more settled. I hope soon.
diane in northern wis says
Oh Rhoda, I feel like I know your mom and dad after all these years. I am pained by what they are going through and what all in your family are going through with them. I know how very hard it is. Bless your hearts for doing the right things for them even though it is so painful for your dad right now, with his dementia. I pray that things will settle down for him and that he will accept and even like his new accommodations, and if it’s at all possible, that he might be able to go back and live with your mother, if that doesn’t become too big a burden for her. Keep praying and Trust in God every day. I think of you and your family often and keep you in my prayers. God bless you and your good heart.
Linda Futral says
–Rhoda, Our Joyful Seniors from New Hope Baptist will be at the Memory Care unit approximately 10:30 Tues., Nov. 2. We would love to meet you, your Mother, and your family there. We plan to ask your Dad to say a few words and pray if he attends. We certainly hope he will join the other residents. We will have a banjo and guitar so we can sing and enjoy time with Sheila Shirley and her friends. Afterward, our Seniors will be eating at O’Charleys and welcome your family to join us.
I continue to follow your daily experiences, but I can truly say that you will never regret one minute of what you are doing. The last days with both my parents were some of my happiest memories even though some of the hardest I have ever lived. Your crown will be heavy with the many jewels you are earning.
Hope to see you Tuesday.
Thank you, Linda, I just sent you an email. What a wonderful thing you all are doing for these seniors.
Rhoda..Thanks so much for sharing update on Mom and Dad..I just love these two so much from following along with you all these years..I’m so glad Mom is doing good and getting much needed rest and getting to interact with other people and do some things she enjoys.. I’m so sorry Dad is having to deal with this sad dreaded disease.. it so heart wrenching for the person and family.. I’ve been there with my Mother..sending lots of love and prayers to Mom and Dad and all the family❤️❤️❤️🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
My dad was helped a lot by Zoloft, it was incredible to see the difference. He became quite pleasant although sometimes he was hard to visit. He would insist it was getting dark and I better get home. Or he was waiting for his brother to come by and they were going to get wood, I better go.
There was some bitterness in my family and I was the only child to tend to him. It was so hard I can’t even believe I got through it.
I hope you realize one day he might not be able to eat and they might start wanting permission about tube feedings. It’s really not advised as the body can’t absorb food at a certain point but often the staff will push for it.
Think about it, learn about it now. Probably you already have, sounds like you have great support.
It’s a terrible bridge to cross. You all have my promise of prayers.
HI, Nancy, no we don’t know anything about that part yet, so will keep it in mind. I hope it doesn’t happen to him, he eats great still.
Rhoda… my heart goes out to all of you. We walked this road, also … it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My Mom lost her watch all the time and it was always stolen. We usually found it where she herself had hidden it. Watching anyone you love walk down the dementia road is difficult to say the least. I think I was able to find comfort in the midst of heartache by knowing that they had to be safe and, also, that IF they knew what was happening they would wholeheartedly understand every decision we made. There is no way one can prepare for dementia and each person is so very different in the disease itself PLUS the meds work differently for each person. Try to find comfort in knowing you are doing the best you can for them both. My heart goes out to you and your family in this very difficult time. I would encourage you to join in a support group if they have them there… take good care of you so you can take good care of them. Hugs!
Bless you dear Rhoda. I know that this is very difficult. My husband has spent his entire 40 + year career in the long term care industry and I have been able to attend many conferences with him. One of the best trainers/ speakers in the industry regarding dementia is Teepa Snow. A quick google search of her name will give you a wealth of helpful information.
I will continue to pray for strength for the journey for your entire family.
Thank you Pat, I keep hearing her name so will definitely look her up. The more info the better.
I’ve been thinking about you, and your parents a lot lately. Even shared your story with my husband.
I know it’s stressful when your Dad isn’t content. It’s just so sad. Dementia with aging is a very difficult situation.
Will be praying that your next post he will be settled.
You are a wonderful daughter. Thanks for keeping us informed on your precious parents. ♥️🙏
Bless your hurting heart…..your love is blessing your mom…..confusing your dad…..but it’s still love. Never forget that.
Arlene Tankersley Grimm says
Thanks for doing an update Rhoda. My mother is almost at the same point your daddy is at. I have found a great you tube channel called Careblazers Dementia…it has helped me to understand more about this disease and its progress. A friend recommended it to me and I am so glad she did. Mother is still at home but I see the day when that will not work anymore. I am so glad your sweet mama is enjoying this season of life. I am sure she is a blessing to the other ladies who live there. I hope your daddy will become more resigned to his situation and even come to enjoy being Pastor in his unit. You and Renee are doing the right thing…sometimes we just have to keep telling ourselves that as the parent can make you feel so defeated. Hugs and prayers.
Rhoda It’s so good to read of the update on Mom and Dad. What caught my attention is that you are truly trying to learn all you can about the disease. However, I’m sure you’ve read that it does not reverse. My friend is in a Memory Care facility and her siblings and daughter keeping hoping she’s going to be back to “normal” and it’s so sad since I witness her getting worse and worse despite her meds. They also argue with her or used to when she would talk and that is the worst thing. Seeing them do this makes me happy that you and your sis are trying your best to do the right thing. I’m happy your mom is enjoying this season of her life and I pray for your dad to settle down since he’s in the best place he can be. Praying for your family!