When I was younger, I had a hard time with any confrontation. In fact, my father called me "The Peacemaker." When the time came to find an assisted living home for my mother, my sisters and I agreed upon the same place my father spent his last months. We were pleased with his care and the respect and dignity he received during the last months of his life. At first, I assumed all was fine. It was clean, and the staff seemed friendly.
Over time, however, we noticed a drastic decline in Mom's cognitive ability, personality, and overall demeanor, which was separate from her Alzheimers. I called and spoke kindly with the director of her section and inquired about activities that would help stimulate her brain and provide some entertainment. She spent countless hours alone in her room, causing her to ruminate and become distressed. I contacted her doctor, who examined her and reassured me she was exactly where she should be. I then requested an evaluation by the physical therapist as Mom was losing her ability to move independently. Again, I was told she was doing great. Perhaps they could have someone come and walk with her up and down the hall.
I am, by nature, a people pleaser. I respect those in authority. However, this was too much. My mother has life left in her. She is a beautiful human being who deserves respect and dignity. And so my sister and I decided enough was enough. I called the administrator and discussed my concerns. Why were there no activities at all? Why was my mom sitting in her room all day? Why was she declining so rapidly since arriving? Why were there no decorations on the walls? Why could I never find anyone to ask a question when I was there?
Because of Covid, we were required to give notice when we were visiting. One Sunday morning, I told Steve that I wanted to see Mom. And I was going to provide them with notice. When I rang the doorbell! He and I arrived, and I literally stopped in my tracks. I didn't even recognize my own mother. I will not go into detail, but let it suffice to say I knew at that moment, my mother would not be staying there one minute longer than necessary. I was sad. But I was also angry. This was my mother. She deserved dignity. Respect. Encouragement. Love. And she was getting none of that.
My sisters and I had entrusted our mother into their care. Despite my continued efforts, phone calls, suggestions, pleading, even crying as I asked them to help my mother, stimulate her, encourage her, they insisted she was where she needed to be. She was fine. I even offered to come in myself and read a book, do a craft, watch a movie with the residents. I was told that I would have to complete a course before doing that. Which I knew was not the case. I realized that I needed to advocate for my mother. I called the administrator and reiterated my specific concerns. I told her we would be moving her as soon as possible.
Did we have another place in mind? No. Enter God. We have a very dear friend who is actually the mother of our parish priest. She gave us the name of a different facility in town, and I sent an email. They called me back immediately, and we did a virtual tour. The director there told me they had one room open, and my mom would be third on the list. I filled out all the paperwork and left it in God's hands. Literally. As I was praying a novena, a few days later, I received a call that the room was available immediately! And just like that, my mom was in her new home.
As you can see in the picture above, my mom is flourishing! Her new assisted living home is a beautiful, cozy, organized, loving place! It is like a home, with a living area where the residents watch old sitcoms together, play games, exercise, and do seasonal crafts. Mom is happy, relaxed, clean, mentally stimulated, respected, and loved. She no longer sits in her room alone. The schedule is the same every day, which helps so much. Mom is happy and healthy and so much more content. Of course, she still has Alzheimer's, but she is living a happy, dignified, comfortable life. And that is what she deserves.
The moral of the story? Advocate. Don't be afraid to stand up for what you think is right. My sisters and I were the voice for my mom. And we spoke loud and clear. I did call the administrator of the first assisted living facility recently. I spoke with her respectfully and offered constructive criticism. I did this for all those residents who don't have anyone to speak or advocate for them. I suppose I am a peacemaker, after all.
Thank you for listening, my friends. This is my view as I finish typing this. I am spending more time here, reflecting and relaxing. I am sorry I have not been around to visit. I plan to snuggle in this weekend and catch up with you!