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Moved mom into AL yesterday - hardest thing I have ever done
I wanted to share my story, one to get comments/advice, and two hopefully someone else experiencing the same thing reads and get some comfort that someone else is going through this.
My mother contracted melanoma about 10 years ago. At the time, we were told she had 1-2 years to leave. She went through surgeries to remove tumors (1 arm, 1 leg, and 3 brain surgeries). The brain surgeries seem to have caught up with her and she now has the onset of dementia. It started about a year ago(June 2021), she had a seizure while we were on a family vacation. Since then, she has required more and more help.
Starting in January of 2022, we had in home care givers daily, M-F. My sister took care of her at night and weekends. It was really hard on my sister. I have come out several times this year(on my 5th trip now). The surgeon did go in, with a small pin hole, to try to improve some swelling and scar tissue, and also take a sample to see if there is a tumor. The result came back negative, which was great, but at that point my mother started refusing treatment and was really bad in the hospital.
In April 2022, we started having night time assistant, and in the last month, weekends. My mom has to have someone 24x7. We are scared she might fall, get confused and do something with the stove, microwave, etc. Her long term memory is still good. Short term, she can remember something for about 3 minutes. She is very aggressive with my sister, and says really horrible things to her, and now to me as well. "you don't like me anymore", "you are a terrible aunt to your niece", etc.
In June/July 2022, my sister and I started looking for a place for mom. We tried a couple larger places, and even took mom to visit, but didn't seem like she would get the attention she needed. We found a really nice group home, close to my sister, and even took my mom there to visit.
When mom was visiting places, she was sweet as a peach. She was also very nice to her care givers. Rarely would we get a report of her being 'bad', and when she was, that might involve raising her voice. She would still argue with my sister, hit her, she even tried to bite my sister at least once(I am not sure my sister told me all the times that happened).
We took mom yesterday to the group home. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. As I type this, I am holding back tears. When we were there my mom said she was at the place six months ago, and she didn't like the people. She didn't like 'how they did things' and she wasn't going to stay there. Luckily my Aunt and Uncle (her brother and sister) were there with my sister and I to help talk to her. When we left it didn't matter. She hung on to me, told me I could leave her there. "Don't you dare leave me here", I think I blocked out other things she said.
I am here (in Phoenix, AZ, came in from California) until Thursday to help with the transition, but the owner/operator of the facility suggested we don't come see her this week and try to let her settle in. I feel terrible. I feel guilty. I feel sad. I woke up last night worried about her. I am seeing a therapist, started a few weeks ago, and that helps. I highly recommend it. I am try to get my sister to do the same, but she says she 'talks to her friends about it sometimes'. I don't think thats enough, and will continue to try to get her to see someone.
This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I watched my father die of lung cancer. This is harder. Please talk to people. Share your stories. Seek help. You aren't meant to care for a loved with dementia(thats my opinion). I have not been able to be a proper father, husband, co worker or take care of my self because of this past year. I am going to try to correct that.
Virgil, this disease is nothing short of horrible. I know this is hard. I had a very hard time making a call like that for my wife. Once I made the decision it became less stressful. I hope you're finding the same thing. It's really hard when they say things to make you feel like you're doing something that is not in their best interest, even though we know better. It still hurts.
Hopefully it won't be long before she starts to get involved with other people there. Keep us posted.
Placing my FIL in memory care last year was heartbreaking and we felt so guilty. He settled in and ended up doing better there than at our home, even made some friends. He’s back home now due to a fall and other issues, but we would do it again.
Hang in there, she will likely adjust and do just fine. You are still caring for her, just in a different way. You and you sister will find there is still a lot of overseeing her care, even at the facility.