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.
Its such a horrible disease , prayers for your beloved daddy. They are safe and that has to be the top priority. He will eventually forget about going home…..ugh Love to u and a big hug!
Barbara Pitts says
I feel your pain going thru all of this. We experienced it with my Mama. It is such a cruel sickness and so hard to watch. Prayers for all!
Kristin M says
My 93 year old mother lives with me. She’s widowed and has dementia. Whenever she loses something I get blamed. Hearing “You took them!” stabs me in the heart and has the effect of erasing all the advocacy I have done for her to get her established here with new insurance, new doctors, new bank accounts, new television watching system. It’s so hard.
Thank you for sharing this. I’m going through a similar situation with my Dad. I can relate to this so much. It’s been extremely hard for me and my sisters to put him in a nursing home. It’s been about 7 months now and he still wants to go home. I visit as often as they allow with Covid restrictions. Praying for the day when he finally accepts that this is his new home. Keep on updating us on your parents. Praying for this new chapter in your life. We don’t even know each other but because of Instagram and this blog, I feel like I do!
Hi Rhoda, you did the right thing, your parents needed the change in order to be safe. I’m so happy your sweet mother is loving her new life. As for your dad, it’s a heartbreaking situation. We went through the same ordeal with my beloved father in law. Prayers for the entire family are coming your way
Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing all of this with us Rhoda. So many of us can totally relate to what you’re experiencing. My completely vital and independent grandmother had some falls and her very mild dementia became much worse very quickly. My parents and I are not in a position to give her the care that she really needs so we had to make the decision to have her move into assisted living. It has not been easy but we know without question that it was the right choice. Just know that you are not alone in feeling the things that you are and that there is no exact formula to any of this. There’s such variability in behavior and function with folks that have Alzheimer’s and accompanying dementia. Your dad will find his groove and get more grounded and calm as the days go on. My prayer is that in the time to come the diagnosis, treatment and possible prevention will improve dramatically to help the sufferers as well as their families because this is absolutely a disease that affects everyone. I know your lovely Mom’s name is Iris but I can’t recall your Daddy’s. I’d love to pray for him by name if that’s Ok. Wishing you all the very best.
His name is Albert and he goes by Al.
Thank you Renee! Praying for you all as well.
Lorrie Stovall says
Thank you for your honesty! I’m so happy for your mom!! I’m thankful she can socialize & unburden herself with new friends going through the same changes. I’m praying for your daddy. It struck me that as sorry as I am for him, I’m so very thankful he has his faith and it’s intact. I pray his caretakers will encourage him to utilize his love of the Lord & may that help him with acceptance.
I hope you don’t feel like you have to justify any of your decisions. You can only do what is best for them and your family. God knows your heart. Dementia steals the person we love. Blessings on all of you.
Not at all Brenda, my family is united that our decision to move them was the best.
Shirley J Foley says
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with all of us. I know it must be hard and just another task consuming your time. Praying for you and your family.
Thanks for updating us on your parents. I’ve been praying for them, especially your sweet daddy. So happy to hear your sweet Mama is enjoying assisted living. My Mama has lived in assisted living four years, and the support she gets there from medical to social is worth every penny.
Dementia is such a challenging disease. We’ve witnessed friends of mom’s progress from assisted to memory care, and we’ve seen firsthand the struggles the families experience. Mom’s facility offers “classes” for families, addressing various facets of dementia care. Hope your mom’s and dad’s facility will offer something like that, too. Know you all have made the best choice for both of your parents. Prayers that your daddy, in due time, will find the peace which surpasses all understanding. 🙏❤️🙏
Thank you, Susan, yes we are going to a monthly dementia support group and I think it will help us as we go through this journey. I have several books to read too, so we will learn as we go. The facility has been great to help us with everything we need to figure out.
Rhoda I am crying after reading your update I know you don’t really know me, but I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning when you were in Alabama. I visited your home when you completed the remodel with your Dad. I took a class with you at Michael’s the day you were all waiting for the first baby. I followed along with all the ups and downs you have experienced in this thing called life. So I do feel like I know you sand my heart breaks for you as you are going through this tough challenging situation. I pray that things improve for your family and you can all live with peace. Take care of yourself as you travel through this journey.
Thank you, Cheryl, I know that you’ve been following along for so long, thank you for the well wishes. We are all doing OK, just taking it one day and week at a time. I know that the Lord will walk with us through this journey. It’s so heart warming that so many people care about my parents.
Jeanie Nichols says
Thanks for sharing your story. Prayers for you and your parents. It looks like you have your parents in a beautiful place that is well maintained. I know this was a difficult decision for you and your family to make, but it was the right one. Your mom gets to be pampered, and she deserves that, and your dad is safe.
Debbie Delosreyes says
I really appreciate your honest updates on your parents. I really feel for your family and can relate. My Dad just accused my husband of taking his hammer, and my son of his change; both he found later. My Dad is a caregiver to my mom with MS. Both don’t want to change their living situation as life gets more complicated and I am an only child. Sometimes I feel resentful that my mom won’t encourage my dad to allow others to care for her. He also doesn’t like people in his home for long or touching his things. I know how hard it is for your dad to be angry at you, the threats. etc. Just remember he isn’t thinking clearly plus you know in your heart what is best. Your mom looks so good in all the updates. Your posts are so helpful to me. Thank You! Stay strong.
Cindy N. says
A million hugs to you, Rhoda.
My prayers are with you.
Sandy Knight says
Thank you for sharing your journey with your parents with all of us. My parents are about 10 years younger than yours and my sister and I will be taking care of them more as the time comes. I remember when your daddy helped you remodel your former home. I thought that was so wonderful that y’all could spend that time together doing something like that.
Hi Sandy, looking back on that 9 years ago, it was very special time and I’m so glad I documented it all here on my blog. We had no idea where the next 10 years would take them, but here we are now. We are confident that they are in the right place and I’m so grateful to have such a good place 5 min. from my house.
We put my Momma in assisted living and eventually memory care when her dementia got so bad. She accused the nurses, aides, drs and us of stealing her stuff. It was not who she was. It was the saddest thing ever to watch her go through. The best one we could find was about 30 miles away but I made the journey 3x’s a week. It was depressing at the time but now that she is gone I’m glad I spent all the time with her I could! I know it is so hard for you to see this but you will not be sorry for any and all you do. You are a good daughter!
Terrie Spurlin says
Thank you for sharing your sweet parents with us all these years. As a pastors wife I have soaked up everything shared. I know this was a very difficult decision and I am sure that at times you second guess if it was the right answer. My prayer is that you feel the peace that God can give that it is what was best! Know I am praying for you and your family. I am praying for your dad that the Lord will put a peace over him and that he finds that contentment. I am praying for your sweet mom that has been his rock all these years not just with the family but in the ministry as well. I know she is broken. Praying for all!
Thank you Terrie, it’s been a tough month, but we all know it was the best and right thing to do. We know that God will help dad adjust with time, at least that is what we are praying. Mom is so happy with the burden lifted from her shoulders and that is so good to see. She deserves it so much!
Nancy Anderson says
My mother in law had dementia and was also in a memory wing of a lovely assisted living facility. What she went through was so similar to your dad – she’d plead to go home, threaten to walk home, complain that someone was taking her things, etc. At one point we told her that we were having work done on her house and that seemed to help. Every time she asked to go home we’d say, “Remember we are getting the kitchen fixed up after the storm? Well, it’s not quite ready yet.” We did that for a few years.
Thank you for sharing your parent’s stories. It’s painful to go through (especially the holidays) but you are not alone and rest assured, they are being well taken care of.
I agree with what someone said above, you are a good daughter. Sometimes when I’d visit, I’d see the same people constantly without visitors and it was heartbreaking.
What comes through in all your posts about your mom and dad, is your unconditional love. I know your mom feels that and I’m sure your dad does too. I’m so glad you’re reading up about dementia and I’m sure you have support and the love of family to know that you’re doing the best thing you can do to keep your dad safe and your mom comfortable and happy. Sending prayers for you and your family.
Susan Morris says
Parents with dementia is just hard! My mother in law suffered for nine years. She and my father in law moved into the memory care area together for a time but this was horrible for my father in law. His was mentally sharp and he didn’t get the social interaction he needed so he moved into the assisted living area. This change was so good for both of them.
So glad you are looking into a support group and reading materials. We learned that trying to get my mother in law to understand what we were doing was futile. It was best to agree with her and just move on. One suggestion for your dad would be to get him a wallet with a chain on it that could be attached to his belt loop. It would be with him and he’d be happy. He could even loop it to his bed railing. Prayers for you and your family as you travel this challenging path.