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Life in Assisted Living & Memory Care

Someone asked me recently for an update on mom and dad.I haven’t done one since Christmas, so it seems fitting to do an update on them. Life in assisted living and memory care is unique to say the least. We have all adjusted to this new way of living for mom and dad, but I’m not sure there is an easy way to do it. You just adapt as life comes and that’s what we’ve done. They have been in assisted living and memory care for 1.5 years now and things are going pretty well. We are thankful for that and thankful that they have a good place to live with people that look after their day to day needs. There is no way i could handle this on my own.

Mom and dad are doing as well as they can under the circumstances of where they live and exist. I’m so glad they are in a good place and are being taken care of on a day to day basis. These are things to be thankful for. Life in assisted living is different, but it’s good for this time of their life. Mom and dad have far surpassed most of their family and peers in life expectancy. They are still going and hanging in there. Mom’s 2 younger brothers  and their wives are also in facilities in Florida and South Carolina, so it’s sort of ironic that the 3 of them are all in the same boat in life at this time and all 3 of these families have served in ministries their whole lives.

I try to take pictures often when I visit. When they first moved in, I was there more often, but I’m now going twice a week. That seems to be a sweet spot. I know that each visit could be the last, we just don’t know what the future holds or how long we have these two precious souls, but for now they are doing fine. Mom visits dad almost daily and now that it’s getting warm again, there will be much more outside sitting and visiting. Mom calls me if there is something I need to know or if she has something going on that I need to be aware of. It’s great that I’m only 5 minutes away from them.

We visit with dad and even though the conversations are limited, it’s good. Dad lives in the moment and we talk about the weather. He asks me pretty often about where I live and he somehow remembers that I’m not far away, which gives him some semblance of peace. He’s glad I’m only 5 minutes away from them and brings that up pretty often. Dad has mostly forgotten the past, such as their house and cars, which is a good thing. We don’t want him dwelling on what is not and it’s good that he has forgotten most of that. We talk about the weather and day to day things, like food and sunshine.

They were matching this day. Dad is pretty content with where he is. He has accepted that mom is living in another part of the building and when we visit and he goes to lunch, he always says bye-bye knowing that we will be back again soon. We go and visit right before lunch most of the time and that works out well.

Sometimes we bring him over to mom’s side in assisted living and sit by the fireplace. He loves that, the fireplace has been a consistent feeling of contentment for him, so I’m glad he likes some things that are part of his day to day. He has a fireplace to sit by in memory care too and does so often.

Mom tested positive for Covid back in February and after she was out of quarantine, I brought dad over to visit. They haven’t had much going on lately, so I’m hoping these days are behind us all. Now that the weather is warming up, he will be going outside more often. He has a nice outdoor space with rocking chairs on his side that he can access by himself, so he will be doing that all during the spring and summer months. He’s definitely an outdoor guy and loves nice sunny weather.

Dad does not like taking a shower, so that is the biggest issue we have going on these days. Since hospice is involved with him (he has heart issues so we got them involved about 5 months ago), it’s been good. A nurse checks on him once a week and also care givers come in to help him get a bath at least twice a week. For some reason, memory care folks don’t like getting a bath and that’s been the hardest thing to deal with as far as dad is concerned. He can be awfully stubborn and even downright ugly at times with the care givers. Mom tries to help by talking to him, but of course that doesn’t always stick, so it’s an ongoing conversation about taking baths. It’s not just dad, it’s just a thing with older folks. He doesn’t even remember that he was ugly with anyone, but it just comes out.

We just do the best we can with his care giving and getting him timely baths. As most of you know, getting older presents a lot of issues, such as incontinence and other issues. That’s one of the things that is ongoing with older seniors and just part of their life. Mom tells me all the issues she deals with and it can be challenging, like bunions on her feet that give her problems at times. We had to go see a podiatrist a few weeks ago for that.  Just getting toenails cut is challenging as a senior and I’m glad that they have podiatrists who come in regularly to help with that. Oh the issues that these folk face as aging takes away more and more of their independence. I know that’s so hard for them all.

Mom gets tired too of all the challenges that comes with senior living, but she handles it pretty well. She has told me more than once that she is ready to go to heaven. I think the day to day issues just get to her sometimes. I know it has to be hard to give up independence and to rely on people to help you with things when you’ve been so independent all your life. That has to be so hard. Mom has always done for herself and asking for help is not easy, but Mom has said often that you can’t be too proud  in assisted living. They have to be willing to be humble and ask for help.

Dad gets extra care in memory care and I know they learn his habits and how to deal with him and that’s a good thing. We’re still happy with Dogwood Forest, although they have their issues too. The general manager is leaving (the 2nd to leave since they have been there for a year and a half). There are issues as far as staffing and having enough people to take care of all the residents. Mom complains often of how bad the service is on the weekends in the dining room. There doesn’t seem to be enough staff to take care of everyone, although I know they have guidelines they have to follow to be legal on all of that, so I’m sure they are. It just seems to be lacking sometimes. I know that’s not an isolated issue, it’s happening in all areas of society now. Good help is hard to find apparently and assisted living is no exception. Mom gets attached to certain care givers and then they leave, so that’s hard. Some are more friendly and patient than others are.

The reality of assisted living and memory care is it’s hard. Life is not easy for these sweet people, but they hang in there and live life as best they can with where they are at the moment. I know mom is tired. Dad probably is too, but he doesn’t express it as easily as mom does. She still wants to see him and wants to make sure he is OK on a regular basis. It’s very sweet how she looks after him and wants him to be good. I’m thankful they are in a good place, it could be so much worse and she and I talk about that often. God has been very good and gracious to our family. You never know how long family members will live and you just hope and pray that they don’t suffer. That’s still my prayer. Lord, take them quickly without suffering. They have lived full rich lives.

We’ve finally been able to get outside again lately. The weather is cooperating again. Dad is happy outside and this is his favorite place to be, always has been. I just bought him a new pair of shoes to wear, these are house shoes but sturdy with gel inserts. You should have heard that conversation. “I don’t need a new pair of shoes”, he said. But the shoes he wears are definitely wearing out. We will see if he wears these or if he insists on wearing the old worn out shoes. He’s a set in his ways kind of guy, that’s for sure!

I try to capture as many pictures as I can of them when I visit. I know we will cherish all of these pictures when they are gone. Mom is still loving all her new clothes from Blair (affiliate link). She has so many new things and I’m glad she likes them. I think many of the ladies at Dogwood are Blair fans too! If you have senior ladies in your family, you might try Blair too. They are perfect for this stage of life. Mom loves all the jackets and lightweight shirts for summer. Mom gets her hair shampooed and styled every week now and loves that too. They have a stylist in house which is nice.

Around our House

Here’s Miss Daisy after a recent grooming. She continues to be such a sweet dog and we love this girl so much. She’s two years old now!

I don’t share all that many pics of Mark and me anymore, but here’s a fairly recent one at a local restaurant.

Meanwhile in Louisiana, Parker had her 9th birthday party when we were down there a month ago. Lauren had a mobile petting zoo bring over pets to cuddle and play with. I am not sure the pets thought it was fun, but the kids sure did. Parker loves critters and picks them all up. That’s Alex looking on and Iris is right behind Parker, probably scoping out a little piglet.

Lauren decorated her cake and it was a fun day. Iris will be turning 7 in April and that’s so hard to believe. These girls are growing up fast.

There’s Iris with the piglet, snaggle teeth and all.

Alex had fun too trying to pick up the animals. A good time was had by all the kids.

(From left to right, Ivy, Logan, and Reese)

Meanwhile on Mark’s side of the family, 3 of his 4 daughters had babies in November and December and here they are recently. They are growing too and no longer newborns. It’s fun to see the family growing with all these babies. I don’t even know how many great grandchildren Mark’s mom has now, but it’s a lot, in the teens. These babies are just scrumptious and so cute! I expect these 3 to be playing on the ledge in our pool this summer. That will be a fun time too!

So that’s an update on mom and dad specifically. I know you all want to know how they are doing, so I added in a little bit about the rest of the family too. We are all doing well and I’m grateful for abundant blessings on both our families!

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