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The summer has been a whirlwind. Just when I thought I'd have time to process, I was wrong and something else happened - hence why my last post was in JUNE. In early July, my mom was moved from the Adult Care home into an assisted living facility where Dad would meet her at the end of the month. Dad was released two months early for 'good behavior' and 'work credit time' where he was able to reduce his sentence by working in the kitchen. I am very glad his sentence wasn't longer, for in the 4 months he was there, he dropped 40 pounds! Not that he didn't need to lose some weight, but it was becoming unsafe for him with regard to his health. Because there was no one else, I stepped up and helped put things away for mom in the new place - they have a studio apartment in one of the best assisted living centers in our city. I am so tremendously grateful that through state subsidy everything is being paid. They were given a bed and had other needs met so they could live comfortably. I stepped in a couple of times to help out and then the insanity of August hit. I told them I wouldn't be available for anything until after Labor Day. Towards the end of August I ended up receiving some very nasty and abusive phone calls, the last of which was full of venemous comments and insinuations that I was not a good daughter. After pacing back and forth and being agitated for a couple of hours, I calmed down and realized I had something snap inside of me - after all the time, effort, money, and tough love, they STILL weren't respecting boundaries, taking hints, and being respectful to me as a person. When my husband came home, he could see something was wrong. How is it people can suggest the most obvious things that we would have thought of ourselves had we been in a better head space? He suggested writing a letter. I went to bed and fitfully slept - and penned the letter the next morning. In a nutshell, I told my parents I needed space and time to heal, that the past few years were brutal and cost my husband and I dearly on a number of levels - and I took time to explain each one in great detail. I also added that I didn't appreciate, nor would I be accepting any more abusive phone calls and that they needed to make plans for the holidays, for we were going out of town. Now, mind you, it wasn't this abrupt, but went on for just over 4 pages - well written, clearly stated, articulate, and TO THE POINT, emphasizing that I did love them. When I let my husband read it, he suggested some minor changes, which I made. He said, "You are sending this, right? This is too powerful to sit on your hard drive." I blinked a few times, printed it and mailed it yesterday. I should have dropped it by the PO, but had stuff to do here at the house. So there it sat in the mailbox, waiting for the postman. Every time I thought about yanking it from the mailbox, I remembered those toxic messages and stopped short because my parents need to realize that a lines have been crossed and I will not be tolerating this behavior any longer. My husband also reminded me - "They don't listen. They don't respect you - they never have. You have communicated your wants and needs to them. They are driving you to this point. The lack of relationships in their life, including yours, is their choice and their problem - not yours." Yes, he got a big 'old smoochie for that. So. I do anticipate a few more vitriolic calls from them, but this needed to happen. And for the first time in years, I'm beginning to feel free and rediscovering myself and my husband. Thank you for all your listening and encouragement. You are such a gift and a blessing.
It is now the middle of June. Whoosh. As most of you know, early April saw my mom placed in a Adult Foster Home. She protested and caused waves, tried to manipulate people and circumstances, complained, and tried to blame me. Meanwhile, I had to sort through their apartment. It took me much longer than I thought it would – one bedroom of the two bedroom apartment was literally packed to the ceiling with boxes – most of which had items that were slated for donation. In a nutshell, I saved the important stuff. I saved their clothes, their Christian books and teaching dvds and some entertainment dvds. I saved the china and some ‘pretties’ from the china cabinet that I knew were family heirlooms. I also saved some things for a kitchen, including a very expensive water filter, should they have a small apartment within the next year. Unfortunately, the rest had such a horrible smell – and we were so limited on space, the Guardian had to have an estate company come through and liquidate. It was a blessing, for there was no way I could save all their things and move them – and clean the apartment. They did all that – and I was grateful. Now, had the Guardian or a Professional Service done the cleaning, aside from ‘personals’ like clothes or a specific item, it all would have been sold. Everything that had value would have been sold – and I was grateful I could keep the things I did. May saw us tackle the storage unit. This was a 10x12x14 unit that I could not do without my husband’s help, for my dad had stuff stacked to the ceiling like a monkey puzzle. There was furniture and boxes weaseled inside each other that when you moved one thing, it all came tumbing down. More than once, my husband commented, “Well, whatever is in here will fall, so if it’s breakable, I guess we’ll know in a hurry.” I did find family photo albums, negatives and slides that I need to archive – all of which need sorting – something to be done during the winter or a vacation day. However, well over 95% of what was so sacred in that storage unit was literally junk. Some boxes hadn’t been unpacked in over a decade, some even longer. I can’t believe the attachment to useless stuff. The bad news is that as a result of all the dust, mice poo and mold, my allergies that had already kicked up and by the end of the storage unit cleaning, I had upper respiratory bronchitis that required two different sets of antibiotics and two different inhalers. My husband also needed antibiotics for a wicked cold and sinus infection. We are both well now, thankfully. Last week, however, the hooey hit the fan. Mom kept calling and blowing up my voicemail - bothering me about what I had saved and just in general being a brat. Finally, the Guardian had a chat with her about all of her possessions and the beater cars. After the conversation, Mom called me quite emotional demanding to know why I let things happen. I assured her that whatever help I received was a blessing and reminded her about the smelly items – the overwhelming smell of trash, mouse poo, dirt, cooking odors, rancid oil, ketones, and adult diapers that permeated everything because of the state of the house. (For lack of better description, my husband and I are dubbing the smell, ‘It’, for It is largely indescribable and cannot be removed from clothes, shoes, hair, or other items. It sticks around and has burned Itself into our subconsciousness.) I assured her that we kept what we could but it wasn’t a lot – their possessions are in a tarp shed in our driveway. Dad’s tools are in a tarp shed behind our garage. She was in tears – lamenting and blaming me for throwing their stuff away. At the time, there was nothing I could say or do – I just let her rant. She was acting out due to anger and hurt. The next day, however, she called and apologized. I was secretly wondering if the health care staff had slipped her a valium or some thorazine. She said she prayed and God gave her peace. She said she realized how hard it had been on me – and that it was because of me that so many things got saved. Before I could blink, however, in the next breath, she was demanding to know itemizations again. I did thank her for the apology and assured her it had not been a pleasant journey for me – it made me sick, took time away from my home and husband, and even searching for a job. And – no- it did not give me joy to go through my parents’ possessions with them still alive. We did ‘make peace’, though I’m not lowering my guard. I’ve simply been through too much to step back into the abuse cycle. I am still dealing with the excess from the storage shed – I had to toss a bunch of files into boxes and leave them on my porch for recycling day. That is being cleared out this week and I will have my porch back. How will I celebrate? I will buy a new patio set. Total – my husband and I made 25 truckloads to Donation. At the apartment, we filled 4 dumpsters and 8 recycling bins. A separate list for another post is all the junk we found. If there is any advice I could leave anyone with – it’s this: Don’t accumulate what you don’t use. Rotate your groceries. If you don’t use something inside of a couple of years – why are you keeping it? This can apply to clothes, furniture, anything that causes clutter. Make everything have a place and put everything in its place. The plus side from all this? I’ve been so active, I’ve been running my butt off. I have an entire tote of clothes I can wear that I’ve not been able to fit in years.