To start my search for the perfect assisted living, I had to find a place that my mother would hate the least and that would be not too far from my house. It was going to have to be close to me, so I could get transportation for visits and monitoring her care.To add to the challenge, Mom insisted on having an apartment with a separate bedroom, and most assisted living places have studio apartments only.
My friend Eve was so kind in taking me around to seven different assisted living centers near my home. It was way above and beyond the call of friendship. She helped me take notes, took photos, and helped me work through the pros and cons of each place. They all were beginning to run together in my mind. To help me sort them out, and to assist Mom in thinking she was making the final decision, I organized my notes about each of the three that were acceptable on separate pages. Then I printed them in large print, all in the same format, so she could lay them out and compare them against one another. First came the cost, then the services offered, and finally my own opinion about each place. I felt like I had turned in a term paper. She had always been in control of everything in her life, so I wanted to give her the feeling that she would be making the choice.
The place we hated the least had a waiting list, and we simply couldn’t wait any longer, so we started the process to move into my second choice. Thus I began what I call Project Mom.
Through a website called “A Placefor Mom,” I contacted Smooth Transitions, a moving company that specializes in moving elderly people into assisted living or nursing homes. It was very expensive, but it was worth it, not having to orchestrate another move with church volunteers and friends. Meanwhile, my wonderful friend, Eve, offered to drive me to Mom’s, pack up some of her antiques, take her to a hotel that night, and then make the 5-hour drive back to my town, and get her settled into her new digs, so she could sleep there that next night. That was a huge gift from Eve. She knew that I couldn’t do it alone, and that it was going to take a lot of patience and understanding, and perfect timing to make it work. We drove to Mom’s old apartment on a Sunday, and by Monday night, she was sleeping in her own bed but in her new place.
My daughter Kara, and my son Steve also had a huge part in Project Mom. While Eve and I were transporting her fromIndianatoOhioon Monday, Kara flew in from another state in time to meet the moving truck at the new place. Steve took off work and met Kara there to direct the placement of Mom’s furniture and get enough unpacked so that when we brought her in, there would be sheets on her bed, towels in the bathroom, and a path to the couch. I felt like a project manager, adjusting timing all day to make it happen the way I had planned. And it did. The movers arrived with the truck at2:00in the afternoon, and Steve and Kara scrambled to get the place presentable by5:00, when we brought in Mom. We all breathed a sigh of relief when my mother seemed surprisingly happy with the looks of the place. That first night, Kara stayed overnight with her grandma, to make sure she didn’t get disoriented during the night. While kara worked for the next four days, unpacking countless boxes and putting away an incredible amount of stuff, Steve came over every evening after work for the next four nights and hung pictures, rearranged furniture, and unpacked books and records. Phase one of Project Mom was more or less complete. In my next posts, I’ll talk about helping Mom make the adjustment and my plans for how we’re going to pay for this.