Friday is move day

funkillMay 23, 2007

I finally have my mom's *apartment* ready for her move. I am starting to dread her move to the ALF though. Last night I phoned to tell her that she'll be moving this weekend and she was surprised. She still feels that it is "ridiculous" that she needs assistance. However, she'd just phoned her companion, requesting she visit one day early because she's "out of food". Her companion visited and found four frozen meals still in the fridge = obviously she was not out of food...

Anyway, I told mom to think about what she wanted to take with her - clothes, personal items, nick-nacks. I won't be toting too many things as (until two weeks ago) she was a VERY heavy smoker and all her things smell horrible. Plus, there just isn't room for alot of extra items. Do any of you have suggestions of what I should definately remember to take with her? I have a list of the basic necessities and personal care items...

Also, I'm looking for suggestions on how to handle the day of the move. Should I just show up at her door and say "let's go" and pack her stuff? I'm trying not to expect anything in particular for her reaction ... I figure it could go very easy or be the fight of my life.

Oh - and in reference to her smoking... guess the dementia finally progressed to where she's actually forgetting to smoke! Amazing - but one positive amoung all the negatives. Since the ALF allows smoking on the porch, I'm hoping that when she sees the cigarettes that she doesn't start wanting a pack herself again....

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My mother moved to an assisted living facility two years ago. She had been living in a two bedroom mobile home. Shortly after she made the decision to move, I realized that I needed to pack for her. She was not capable of making rational decisions about what to take with her, what to store, what to throw out, and what to donate to charity. My mother was simply overwhelmed by her many possessions, especially knick-knacks, clothing, & pantry goods. In fact, the first things she packed on her own were several shoe boxes filled with jello packages!

Will it be possible for you to pack things before the day of the move? Will your mom's new apartment have a functioning kitchen or just a kitchenette (small sink & small fridge)? Will she have a sitting room/living room area along with her bedroom & bathroom? How much storage space will she have? Is the storage mainly for clothing? Do any possessions pose safety concerns (knives, scissors, electric blankets, etc.)? These are all questions that should be considered as you pack for her.

Good luck on the move. I know this will be difficult and tiring for you, and the adjustment may be stressful for your mom.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 7:58PM
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I would second the idea of packing a little in advance and, if possible, take the packed items back with you in your car trunk so Friday won't be a flurry of moving type activity.

Pack at least 7 changes of clothing at first; that will initially give your Mother enough leeway until her laundry facility routine is worked out. Will she be doing her own laundry, or does staff do that for the residents on a schedule? In some facilities, each resident is assigned a certain time slot. Just for your own benefit, it would be good for you to know about the laundry, what time meals are served, what time of the day there are group or planned activities, religious services, hair salon appointments... the daily facility routine. I've found that really helps with picking times to visit, etc. since I want my Mother to interact and socialize with the residents and don't want my visiting to take away from that but be an addition to it.

As for stuff besides clothing and personal care items - some family photos, clock radio if she enjoys music, small TV unless they have giant screen TV's in the common rooms. A favorite knick-knack or two. A few different sized plates, cups, glasses and silverware for the kitchenette.

Really, at first I wouldn't bring a lot; in a short while you'll know what she needs, would like to have around her or how to decorate to cheer up the space. Depending on how much space there is, might not be room for much more than a comfortable chair, bookcase and perhaps a small table.

I wish you well with this venture and let us know how it goes. It's not easy, but just remember that your Mother will be in a much safer environment and you won't have to worry about her day to day welfare.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 9:38PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. In my heart I know she also canÂt make good decisions on what to bring, but I wanted to give her the opportunity to think about it. By now, sheÂs probably already forgotten. Now that I think about it, when we evacuated for a hurricane a few years ago she packed some fairly *unusual* items too. I can go after work tonight and put a few things together (even take them back to my home for a good washing). Maybe IÂll just take two small boxes and tell her that we can only take as many items as the boxes will hold?

Her unit is fairly good sized and has a bedroom, bathroom w/shower, living room and kitchenette. There is only one closet but itÂs large and has an organizer. There are cabinets in the bath and kitchenette too. I have spent the better part of the month furnishing the place and doing a bit of decorating. I also got her a new TV since thatÂs her main source of entertainment. The facility has several TVÂs but IÂm fairly certain my mother will not want to sit around with all the Old Folks. Really, the place is quite nice and the only thing I can imagine she can complain about are the residentsÂ. That is, she will recognize that they are a lot older than she and most are more physically challenged Â. She will have a difficult time believing she is in the same boat.

Thanks again and IÂll let you know how the transition went. Oh, and thanks for the suggestion of finding the facility schedule!

One last questionÂ. A few facilities I visited mentioned that, after moving my mom, I should not visit her for a couple weeks so that she can "settle in". Do any of you have any comment on this idea?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:06AM
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"One last questionÂ. A few facilities I visited mentioned that, after moving my mom, I should not visit her for a couple weeks so that she can "settle in". Do any of you have any comment on this idea?"

I agree. All you will hear from her is, "I want to go home".

BTW, the premise of the outstanding moving "Away From Her" starring Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis involves an Alzheimer patient (Christie) moving into a facility, and in the 30 day day 'settling-in' period forgets her husband and forms an attachment to another patient. It's supposed to be an outstanding movie in all respects, and I look forward to seeing it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Away From Her

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 10:07AM
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I agree. She needs to get used to their routine and the other people. The tendency is for the new patient to stay in the room expecting the family to drop in at any moment. Be sure to tell her that you will see her next week. Lie a bit if you have to, tell her you are going on vacation. She probably won't remember, but just in case she does, you have an excuse in that you did warn her. Then, when you do go, don't stay long enough for her to think about going home with you.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 12:44PM
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I'll third what Fairegold and Agnespuffin said. Let your mother know that you'll be visiting her the next week, and when you do, don't stay too long. She needs to know that this is her home now, and she needs to get used to the routine and become familiar with the other residents & the staff. Each time you visit, you can snoop around and discover if there is anything she needs and then bring it for the next visit.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 7:50PM
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Ditto above. She needs to come to terms with her new digs. The transition needs to occur without you. The early transition is the roughest but she needs to NOT regard you as potential "rescue" avenue/confederate. Sometime this goes smoothly. Sometimes not. However, encourage you to allow it to go as it must. I know you're no abandoning her....but she doesn't....yet.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 8:18PM
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I have no advise to offer, but am making note of all of this myself.
My Mom has Alzheimers, is still living in her home, a niece lives there with her, but we are thinking that this won't last much longer.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 1:26PM
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Good luck. It's not easy.

When we moved my parents (separately) through the levels of care at their CCRC, we were wisely counseled to not say anything about it until the day of the move. No sense creating unnecessary confusion and anxiety.

When moved my dad to an ALF, we used only his furnishings and we took everything over first and got the room fixed up before we brought him over. We did the same when we had to move him to the nursing home. (We did the same when we moved them to their independent living apartment) For a lot of older people, seeing their lives packed up in boxes and moved out/moved in is very disturbing.

Since they were in the same facility, their friends continued to visit them, which made the transition easier.

We visited immediately, and often after we moved my Dad. The kids and I went at least once a week for a long visit that included either lunch or dinner. We usually brought the food and ate outside on the terrace or took a drive to a nearby fast food restaurant and some sight seeing in the country. The change did him good.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Did you get her all moved Friday? I sure hope everything is going as well as expected.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 3:11PM
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Well - it's done! I moved mom to her new *apartment* Sunday afternoon. It went just okay ... on Saturday night she called to tell me that she wasn't going to go ... that kicked off some emotional discussions but, in the end, she conceded. I asked her to pack some personal belongings that evening. When I came to collect her, she had not done a thing ... sigh.

After the car was packed we headed to the facility. She helped unload her stuff and we checked in. All went pretty well after that. Mom is pretty good at putting up a front - acting really sweet and accommodating to strangers so she was agreeable to all the staff. After we set up most of her personal items and hung some pictures she went down to the dining room for dinner. When she got back she mentioned how dysfunctional the other residents are and that she didn't feel she should be placed among them ... little does she know. I left around 8 pm and she cried (for the first time).

I phoned late Monday night to make sure she was okay and that her cat was also adjusting to the move. She was fairly upbeat and said that she had made a friend. She also said that she was spending some time outside in the garden reading. She said that she was getting "stir crazy" in the small apartment (600 sq.ft - and more space than she was actually *living in* at her home). But I'm glad she's getting some fresh air. Things seem to be going well. I'll keep you all updated and thanks for all you help!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:05AM
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