Moving Dad

bradley stIn his early eighties, my Dad had what I would call a significant depressive episode. It began with hallucinations involving a furnace with a mind of its own, a thermostat that was affecting the television, and backward running clocks. It peaked when my sister found him lying on the floor, afraid to be alone in the house that had been our family home for over 40 years.   After a stay in the hospital, my sister moved him to a nursing home to recover.   When I flew back to see him, it was as if someone had stolen his spirit.  Dad had always had a swagger about him, even into his eighties but the man in the nursing home seemed unwilling to fight what was happening to him.  Perhaps one of the hardest things to deal with as our parents as they age is the sense that we are gradually becoming the parents.   The turning point came when they put Dad on an anti-depressant.  Gradually, he turned back in to our Dad.   But he was adamant that he did not want to live alone in his house.

Like most of us, the first time we deal with this sort of situation with our parents, we know nothing, and although the internet is a wonderful resource, do we really want to trust it for an opinion on how to take care of our aging parents?  I found a company that for several hundred dollars would come in and interview Dad … and look at his medical records, then make some recommendations.  One thing I liked is that they provided a list of facilities nearby that would meet his needs.  If anyone is interested in the name of the company, ask in my comments.  I’m in Arizona right now without access to my records but I can post it when we’re back in CA.  So, armed with a list of localvillage1 assisted living facilities, we started looking for a new home for Dad.  We settled on The Village at Mariners Point in Dad’s home town of East Haven, primarily because the staff seemed exceptionally friendly and because it offered increasing levels of care (for more money, of course).  Other places were fancier or offered transitions on campus to higher levels of care like full nursing, but The Village seemed like it could be home.

In a way, Dad’s crisis made the transition easy.  He no longer wanted to live alone and especially not in his old house, so he didn’t object when we put it up for sale.  He was, however, very nervous about moving to The Village, and the truth of the matter is, looking back, I wish I’d been more sensitive about his fears.  We got him a studio apartment which cost about $3000 a monthvillage3 without extra care.  Dad didn’t have many assets besides his house and his social security, so there was always a question of how long he could afford The Village but we needed to get him out of the nursing home.  Fortunately, we discovered a program of the Veteran’s Administation called Veterans Aid and Attendance that paid about $1700 a month toward his care and he was able to stay until his health required full time nursing.  How did we find out about Veterans A&A?  From a social worker at The Village.  We also used an eldercare lawyer to help us understand what was possible.  I’d suggest when the time comes to seek solutions for seniors that you spend some money to get professional opinions on the options.

Dad1Dad thrived at The Village, where he made friends … including a late in life romance … had activities and all his meals served in a beautiful dining room overlooking the ocean.  Some of the old swagger came back, assisted by the fact that he thought he was pretty hot stuff living among some affluent seniors.   His ten or so years at The Village were the best years he had since my Mom died.   The nursing staff could handle routine crises and would ship him off to the Emergency Room whenever more was needed.  That didn’t free my sister from trips to the hospital to see him, but at least the arrangements were taken care of.  I was fortunate to have a client in Rhode island, which enabled me todad2 take a few days to see my Dad on an almost monthly basis.   Some of my favorite memories of those years were sitting in his room having grown-up chats about life.  I learned more about him and his childhood in those years than I had in all our previous years.  And taking him and his girlfriend, both slightly tipsy from wine in The Village’s pub, out to dinner provided those funny-poignant moments that will stay with me forever.

village2When I called Muri from The Village for the first time, I told her, I could do this, and the first time she visited, she agreed.  Of course, saying it is one thing and doing it when the time comes is another.  The fact is, based on my Dad’s experience, I am big believer in assisted living.  But now that I’m sixty-eight and downsizing could be in our future, I have a different perspective.   In a way, we were lucky with Dad … his crisis basically made the decision for him.  What would we have done otherwise, if he’d refused?  I don’t know.  In Saturday’s post, I’m going to try to look at it from the other side, from that of a man who could be only a decade from the same decisions for himself and his wife.  I’d invite you to stop by.

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5 Comments on “Moving Dad”

  1. territerri Says:

    Bud, thanks so much for sharing this. My parents are reluctant to consider moving out of their home. I’ll bet if they considered the fact that they’d make friends with people on similar walks in life, they might be more willing to consider assisted living. I would sleep better at night knowing that if an emergency arose, there would be someone to act quickly. In recent weeks, I had no idea where to begin looking for help. You have given me several pieces of valuable information to get us started in finding better care for my parents.

  2. There must be some ESP -or maybe it’s a different kind of Karma operating in the air right now because I am sort of faced with this problem in my own life -except it is me who is the one dealing with this for me! I’m at an avenue now where some major changes are going to take place and probably in the next couple of months -by the end of August at the latest. My daughter who has been living with me (along with her two children -my beautiful granddaughter and wonderful little grandson) is planning to move down to the Harrisburg region -which is about 120-130 miles from here. I am unable, on my social security, to maintain the monthly expenses of this old house so, initially, she decided to talk her brother (and his girlfriend and her 3 boys) into moving in here with me and then, have him rent his house. I don’t really object to my son and the others in his “family” moving in here but I know too, he has a lot of trepidation about making this transition. So, what to do? I don’t want to leave my house -that has been my home since the very day I was born as I was born in this house which my grandparents had built in 1903! I love the old place -warts and all -and yes, there are a lot of “Warts” that come with the joint, to be sure. Not only do I not just want to leave this, my home, but I don’t want to leave this little village where I grew up and have spent well over 55 years of my life here too! There’s always -perhaps -the possibility of finding someone else, who like me, doesn’t want to go to a “home” per se and maybe could be considered then as a potential roommate but not too much probability in that happening. I am also considering -going to look at all the information I can get on this possibility of maybe applying for a reverse mortgage. I don’t have a clue if it is an option that would be feasible for me but I am at least going to check it out as maybe it would save me from having to leave the old homestead and also, save my son the grief and aggravation that could come about for him and his family if they do have to move in here with me. So, if you happen to have any knowledge in your vast repertoire of information on many, many things, about reverse mortgages -pros or cons -please feel free to share them with me! Funny, isn’t it, how life takes us on these obnoxious twists and turns along the way?

    • oldereyes Says:

      I’ve actually looked into reverse mortgages briefly. It seems to me they aren’t for everyone but can be a Godsend when needed. I’ll do a little reading and maybe post on it.

  3. cherperz Says:

    That was very interesting, Bud. I am glad your dad’s experience was a positive one.

    I had a job in TX that part of my work responsibilities required me to visit seniors in assisted care and nursing care facilities. There is such a huge difference in quality. When Wayne and I chose our long term health care insurance plans, I had an idea of what I wanted to have covered. There are definitely places we could have a good quality of life.

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