Friday, February 13, 2015

Mom wants to move

This post is part of a log of phone conversations between me and my mother who has dementia. We are reminiscing and catching up. Mom is 90 and moved from the family farmhouse to a sort of assisted living apartment in upstate New York. I live in Florida. We have not had much contact for several years until I started calling her every few days, in August. My goal is to reconnect with her, be someone who will listen to her and share memories. These posts include parts of our conversations I feel important to write about such as events and things she wants to discuss from her life, her family and growing old. She so enjoys our phone calls. Her memory comes and goes. It seems like she has more alert days since I started calling, but that may be my wishful thinking. I am learning a lot about her status in life and how it's changed over the years from being the strong maternal figure to an elderly person who at times feels forgotten as well as forgetful.

Mom has itchy feet. Her apartment is plenty large enough with a large bedroom, lots of storage space and huge dining/living room area. Her living room window overlooks sports fields behind her complex that are a hive of activity with children and families during warmer seasons. She tells me about her place every time we talk on the phone. Her dog, Marley sits on her chair and watches the activity. Marley also likes to peer down at the parking lot to see who comes and goes.

So, you would think all is well, but not quite. It is the desolate months when the sports fields are covered with snow and the view is bleak, that makes mom's feet itch. She wants to move. Of course, she's been upset about not getting the chance to head south with the birds, for winter. Those conversations started last fall and her desperation increased as the temperatures dropped. By January she was more or less resigned to the fact that she would ride out the cold, snowy, icy days of winter, this year. She would make do, until spring.

Okay, but the feet, they still want to travel. And mom has a new quest.

First of all, I must say she's put together a great case for moving. She's lonely. She seldom (she says never) gets company. Only my brother Dennis and his wife Vicki. Dennis comes by to check on her prescriptions, to do her grocery shopping and to visit.  She has a woman who cleans for her, but all other times, it is just mom and Marley. She gave up TV watching because it is always, "the same old junk." There is too much space that she doesn't need or use, she says.

The apartment that is the envy of others who live in her complex because of its size and mom's treasured abode isn't quite so perfect, anymore. You see, it feels too big. The worst part for her is where her apartment is situated, away from the street, on the backside of the building. She longs to spend her apartment-bound hours gazing down on the street, watching traffic. If she had an apartment on the street side, she would be happy to watch children passing by, going to school or the library. She would be able to watch activities in the park that's across the street. She and Marley would feel much happier and not mind the loneliness so much, if she were to switch apartments.

Too bad she is using the argument on me (don't think she's shared it with my sister Liz who would be the one to help make that happen). Even worse she didn't didn't have her argument for moving thought out in time for what would have been a logical solution. Her neighbor across the hall moved out last month. That apartment is on the street side, was vacant and is next to the exit stairs which is good for taking Marley out for walks. She laid the whole thing out to me during a call earlier this week. She even brought it up, that she lost out because a new tenant already moved into that apartment.

I told her to discuss it with Liz and with the complex management. At least get on a list for the next time a street side apartment is available. The dementia makes it rough for her. She doesn't remember her conversations and has lost confidence in doing much for herself, like talking to the manager. Actually, she thinks the manager wants to kick her out because she has a dog, so she is reluctant to approach her about anything. And it is not exactly like she has a team of family members to help her move.

I hope something is done to help fill her time with things she likes to do and can do at her age.

"I am in my 80's," mom said the other day. "Oh no, what am I 90?" Yes, I replied. You will turn 91 next month. "No, not until March, Didn't winter just start?" she said. No about winter.Next month is March and it is almost Spring, I told her. To that she groaned about having another birthday.

Much of our conversations are her telling me the same things over and over. Most of the time, I can get her interested in something else, especially talk of old times. This week was rehashing stuff that makes her upset. At least we had her hopes of moving to discuss.

"Gotta run, mom. I'll call in a few days."

" You have a nice week, sweetheart."

"I love you, mom."

"I love you too, dear."

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