Wednesday, July 19, 2017


I seldom do blog posts about personal emotional stuff but make an exception today.

Instead of whirlwind, the last 10 months resemble a tornado going through my life.

It began last October when my almost 94 year old Mom--who lived alone in a 3-storey townhouse in town--went into serious decline, but nothing that could be named.  Right up to September, she had been driving her own car, cooking all her own meals and doing housework and laundry.  And then it was as if a leaf turned and she just got a lot older in October.

She was unsteady on her feet, so I got her a cane.
She was having difficulty getting in and out of the tub so I got her a grip support that clasped onto the tub, as well as a bath chair.
I got her a gorgeous blue walker and spent 2 hours trying to put it together...ha ha.

I didn't want to accept what was happening.
I visited more frequently, taking precooked meals in baggies and storing them in her fridge for microwaved dinners.
Losing her balance and falling in the garage, followed by what may have been 4 or 5 hours on the floor unable to get up until I arrived to visit her.  I couldn't find her anywhere in the house, knew she hadn't gone out because the car was in the garage.  Looked in the garage again...and then I heard a tiny voice from the other side of the car..."help".
That day ended with paramedics getting her up off the floor...I couldn't lift her to her feet.
She spent eight hours in Emergency and I took her home as doctors assured me no bones were broken.
I convinced Mom to stop driving, and turned in her vehicle plates to ICBC, and I put her driver's license in my purse.  She was OK with that, and I was glad.

The winter months of January, February and part of March were more of the same.
Some days I visited her twice, and each night as I went to bed I worried whether she was okay.
I got her a Lifeline pendant for $40 a month, but she didn't want to "bother anyone" so she never pressed the button.
Several more falls, each resulting in ambulance trips to Emergency. 
One visit led to diagnosis of a uterine infection (which had the scariest side effect of Mom hallucinating!) and she then spent 4 or 5 days on the fourth floor of the new wing...fabulous nurses and a gorgeous private room with amenities comparable to a new motel.  Excellent care led to Mom getting better and she soon returned to her townhouse, promising to be careful.

My husband and I brought her bed downstairs into her kitchen, which had ample space for a night table, and small wardrobe for her daily needs.  She could get to the bathroom easily and seemed to do better without having to concern herself about getting up and down stairs.
I felt relieved knowing she wouldn't be trying the stairs anymore...I helped her get to the shower every week without incident.

But I knew she was growing weaker, and her doctor confirmed heart failure.
The "whammy" was the diagnosis of early dementia which I hadn't even considered.
My late Father--who passed away 12 years ago--had Alzheimer's disease, that cruel crippling disease where the patient doesn't even recognize loved ones at the end.
But Mom seemed okay in many ways.

And then Interior Health folks showed up.
Visiting her townhouse they wanted to schedule leg exercises, they wanted me to erect poles into the ceiling trusses so Mom could pull herself up from her bed...they demanded a lot of physical changes to the townhouse.  And that they could come every morning to get her up and make a cup of tea.
Mom looked at all these demands, and told me we were NOT--under any circumstances--building anything into the house, and that it should be sold.  Then she started complaining about the care aides, saying "there's a different person every day...I look up and there's a stranger standing there!"
I understood her concern.  She also said to hell with the leg exercises.  Okay, Mom.

During March--before the golf course was scheduled to open--I drove around and visited a number of care homes.  Long waiting lists--confirmed by Interior Health--were depressing.  Interior Health rep said, at one point, the wait list was just over a year.  Two weeks later the same rep told me wait lists were approaching two years.

So I convinced Mom to move into our spare bedroom...upstairs (unfortunately!)
Turns out in our 4-level split house we have more stairs than my Mom's townhouse, but at least I could go to bed at night knowing she was safe in the next room.  I gave her a little toy Christmas bell that she could ring to summon me...and it rang frequently.

After about a week at our home, she said "thank you" but that she wanted to go home again.
I knew a care home was the solution so I kept looking.
I was concerned that once the golf course opened--and Mom was spending her days alone in my house, with me in the clubhouse for 12 to 14 hours every day--it was as though she would be living alone again.  And I was worried, as the "dementia" appeared to be rearing its ugly head several days a week.

Then hallelejuha! Coldstream Meadows had a studio opening in their Lodge assisted living home!
After a brief viewing of the room and a meeting with the rental coordinator--who was very accommodating--I quickly wrote a check for a half-month deposit to hold the studio for Mom.

The next event--moving Mom to Coldstream Meadows from her townhouse--won't be detailed too much.  Suffice to say she had said "no" to leaving her townhouse.  Suffice to say I arranged for husband and an employee to rent a moving truck with the furniture I had listed on a piece of paper, during which time I had picked Mom up "for a drive"...thank goodness for cellphone texting, as I was texted when the furniture had been delivered to her new room at Coldstream Meadows, which was the "all clear" for me to take her there.  I was later told by staff that no resident had ever arrived in such a clandestine (unknowing) fashion.  I felt bad to deceive Mom, but it was for the best I convinced myself.  She walked into her new room, recognized the furniture and said she was going home that night "with my furniture".

But the guarantee of nursing and care aide staff made the move of paramount importance.

Within days, the golf course opened and I was grateful Mom wasn't sitting in my house--or her townhome--all alone.
On visiting Mom, she brightened and said the staff were "wonderful"...wasn't overly keen on the "Canadian food" but that it would do.  Three meals a day plus snacks.  And exercise to walk to the dining room (with assistance) using her walker.  Daily housekeeping included.  And Mom's monthly pension covered it, thankfully.

At this point, I'll simply say that I've never before been so exhausted on the first day of the golf season.  But Mom was being cared for and that was a huge relief.

I visit weekly, early mornings when I can get away, as well as pick up prescription renewals and personal care items.  As I drive away, I worry less and less knowing she's in good hands.

From April 21st--when we moved Mom to Coldstream Meadows--until YESTERDAY, July 18th when the townhouse was sold and new owners took over, I picked up Mom's mail and regularly checked/cleaned the house.

But it's over finally...3 months of checking/cleaning an empty house, and then having to get rid of all the rest of the furniture and pots and pans and dishes!  What a chore that was!

The last stage of the townhouse...the sale...was made so easy for me with the professional and extremely diligent service of Maria Besso, of Vernon's Remax.  I was always unable to get away from the golf course to meet Maria, so she volunteered to meet me here at my convenience.  She even came to Coldstream Meadows twice re Mom signing paperwork and was always on time...something very important to me in my rush-rush life.

I knew of Maria's integrity because of her time as a Coldstream councillor, and I certainly chose the best realtor for the sale!  Within five days of listing Mom's townhouse, there was a full price offer which was accepted.  Closing was midnight on July 17th, 2017.

The next outstanding professional I dealt with was Rhoda Chapman, notary here in Vernon.  She volunteered to come to Coldstream Meadows on a Saturday (when she normally did not work) to have Mom sign papers and, again, was such a diligent professional that she arrived on time (yay!) and had all the critical paperwork ready for Mom to sign, with the preliminary stuff having been P-o-A'd (Power of Attorney) by me in the lobby at Coldstream Meadows (just to reduce any confusion Mom might experience).

Without these two women--Maria Besso and Rhoda Chapman--involved at this stage, I'm sure I would've been tearing my hair out.  

And all this time, there's the golf course and clubhouse with tournaments and BBQs, replete with groceries, liquor purchases, cleaning and organizing.  Thank goodness we do not have a restaurant here!  Regulars at the golf course have been wonderful, asking about my Mom's health and well-being at Coldstream Meadows. I am about four months into the golf season.
And all that has happened since the golf course finished the 2016 season at the end of September.

A whirlwind?
Yup...I'm still reeling..

But the main thing is that Mom is OK, and will celebrate her 94th birthday August 19th at Coldstream Meadows.

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