I’ve Got This… Really, I Do

View from My Parents' Old Beach House

Since my mother refused post-stroke treatment, behavior I could not control, I’ve been really busy. Bordering on mildly hypomanic at times, yet surprisingly stable given all the stress I’m under, I gained a sense of control by learning what I can about those things I can control.

Using skills I acquired in my careers in psychotherapy, commercial real estate and the law (granted, I was a legal assistant specializing in complex computerized litigation, not estates and trusts), I’m doing due diligence to be a good – no, an excellent – health care agent and advocate, power of attorney and trustee for my parents. These roles I share with my sister who is in the midst of relocating out of state (lucky woman, actually, she’s stressed out, too).

The past three weekends, I’ve met with several real estate agents, brokers and property managers. Now we’re taking a look at rehabbing and renting out my parents’ beach home.

Friday, after speaking to a gerontological psychologist who will meet with my parents next week, I visited a dedicated memory care community. Hate to keep moving my parents from facility to facility, but must find the right fit for them. My mom needs proper care.

My mother is receiving excellent care in their board and care, but it offers caregiving only, not specialized support or structured activities. My mother is not in control of her life right now and is losing hope for recovery. Before her stroke, my mother had panic attacks, social anxiety and some distorted thoughts. The stroke injured her brain’s front left lobe, exacerbating psychiatric symptoms and interfering with impulse control.

These traumatic brain injuries are trying for anyone. My mother and father were both first-born, high-achievers (as was I). Before her stroke, my mother always had to be in control, and like me, sometimes blew up when overstimulated by social contact or when criticized. Not being able to express herself verbally (she was former university debate team captain) or get her way must be nightmare for her.

Change is Anxiety Provoking

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Great news. Monday I am moving my parents into shared rooms – and most importantly, a shared bed – at a board and care close to my home. To that end, I’ve been busy with electronic paperwork and facilitating the transfer of my mother from skilled nursing stroke rehab and my father from assisted living memory care. Delegated the moving of queen size bed and my parents’ clothing to my husband. Sunday we move the bed and clothes, and I sign the papers and cut the check.

This change, which I expect to be wonderful – which I hope to be wonderful for both my parents and my own family – still is anxiety provoking. So much is riding on it. I pray my parents are happy with the set-up.

Anyway, I’ve been so stressed out that I’ve colored a crap load of images using Colorfy in the last few days. Take a look at the slide show of images and see how busy I’ve been.

Today I finally took a clonazepam hoping it would help. Nada. No difference. I feel like I’m about ready to jump out of my skin. Instead, I write and share with you how moving someone else affects me.

You can imagine how hard it might be to move myself, son and husband. Whenever I have moved in the last ten years, and we’ve moved numerous times, I’ve had a set-back, experiencing deep and sometimes debilitating depression.

We moved our son five times during elementary school. He, too, is sensitive to change. My childhood growing up, we constantly moved. Because of it, I tend to hold people at arms length, never getting too attached for I may be leaving soon.

My Parents Are Still Apart

  Overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. Trying to do the best I can. The assisted living memory care where my father has been staying cannot accommodate my mother’s difficulty swallowing liquids due to her stroke. 

My mother is back in skilled nursing after a psychiatric stay for major depression and behavioral changes due to a UTI (urinary tract infection which can result in confusion or delirium-like state, agitation, hallucinations, other behavioral changes, poor motor skills or dizziness, and falling).

For now, my father remains in memory care. When I first looked at senior care options, I did not even consider looking at board and care homes for my parents, for I imagined them to be crowded and depressing. I only had in mind what the worst homes are like. There are nice homes. Of course, they cost more. 

A beautiful brand new board and care home close to my home can take them both, but it does not yet have its license. Once there, my parents will live in a two-room suite with a private Jack and Jill bathroom and sliders from both rooms to the backyard. My mother loves flowers, so I plan to plant some with her. Now the yard is simply walkway and lawn. 

Kills me that it is taking so long to get the two of them back together. 

My dad keeps saying he wants to move back to the beach, but I cannot oversee their care from our home and my son is adamant about not wanting to move again. We’ve moved our son far too many times. He attended five elementary schools. That’s four too many. We promised him we would not move again once we returned to Mission Viejo from the Mojave Desert.

My parents’ home is not senior friendly. Three stories tall, it presents fall risks. Significant deferred maintenance needs to be addressed. As kitchen appliances have failed over the years, my mother bought toaster ovens to cook. My greatest fear is that if my parents returned to their home, they would go back to drinking, which means that my father would again fall down the stairs (he does so at least once each time we visit).