Moving My Mom in With Me
In less than two weeks, I'll be moving my mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, into an apartment we have in our house. My husband, mother and I made this decision months ago -- so this was not a knee-jerk reaction to my mom's increasing need for assistance. Yet, the closer moving day gets, the more stressed we get.
Moving a parent with dementia requires a lot more planning -- and finessing -- than most any other move. Here are some of the challenges I have faced and how I've dealt (or plan to deal) with them.
You need a plan everyone is comfortable with. My mother is at a stage where she needs assistance but not the type of constant care a nursing home would provide. She balked at the idea of assisted living -- and I don't blame her. She's at least ten years younger than the residents at the facilities we visited. Plus, assisted living would cost at least $3,000 a month.
My husband and I didn't like the idea of leaving her in her home for so many reasons it would take too long to detail here. Luckily, we have an apartment in our house where she can live. It gives her a sense of independence and gives me a sense of comfort knowing I can check on her throughout the day. I will hire someone to help my mom run errands and keep her active. But because she will be so close and I can help mom with so many things, we won't have to pay for nearly as many hours of assistance as we would have to if she remained in her home.
Move mom out before selling her house. We went back and forth on this one because a furnished home typically sells better than an empty one. Yet it would be logistically difficult to get my mom out of her home every time a potential buyer wanted to see it because she no longer drives. Plus, the process would be confusing -- and likely traumatic -- for my mom. So we decided that potentially getting a lower price on the house because it isn't well staged matters less than my mother's well-being.
Let mom keep her stuff. I thought I would be doing my mother a favor by measuring all the rooms in the apartment to figure out which pieces of her furniture would fit. I only confused her and discovered that there was little she wanted to part with. My husband helped put it in perspective for me. "If she wants to pack that apartment full with her furniture, let her," he said. "She feels like she has lost so much already. Just let her keep her things." She is willing to sell a few things, and we compromised on some others (I'll sell some of my furniture I'm not particularly attached to in order to make room for some of her antique pieces she doesn't want to part with but just won't fit in the apartment). If you're moving a parent into just one room in your house, let her bring her bedroom furniture and some other favorite items so it will be familiar to her.
Don't let mom be in her house when the movers come. This follows the same reasoning as moving mom out before selling her house. I plan on having one of mom's friends take her to the new abode to start hanging a few pictures, curtains, etc. When the movers arrive, my mom's friend will help tell the movers where to put things. If your parent isn't too concerned about overseeing furniture placement, you might have someone take him or her out to lunch or to run errands while the move occurs.
Expect confusion no matter what you do. I showed my mother the apartment a couple of months ago while tenants still were living there -- yet she couldn't remember having seen it. I showed it to her a few days ago after the tenants moved out. She called the next day to say she wasn't sure this was the right thing for her. After I explained to her why we made this decision, she asked to see the apartment again. I showed it to her again -- this time focusing on all the benefits. "Yes, the kitchen is small, but you can invite your friends over for a potluck gathering and you won't have to cook. You can have happy hour on the balcony with your friends. You can walk with us down the street to concerts in the park." She probably won't remember everything I said, but the visit made a pleasant impression on her and left her feeling more relaxed about the upcoming change.
If you have a parent living with you or have moved a parent into an assisted living facility, please share your tips in the comment box below.