Monday, March 16, 2009

What I've been doing

As you may recall if you've been reading my blog for a mother is suffering from Alzheimer's. She was briefly in a psychiatric hospital last year due to effects of the disease...but they managed to get her moods and delusions under control with some new medicine. She's been living at her home, the house I grew up in, since she got out.

We did have some issues with Mom's care agency before we found her current full-time caregiver. However, her current caregiver is awesome and we're very happy with the care she provides. It took some doing but we found a good weekend caregiver for Mom also through the same agency. And if money was no object, we'd be happy to keep Mom in her home as long as we could. Unfortunately...

I'm sure everyone reading this has experienced some effects from the current economic downturn. I am happy to still be employed, but my 401K has definitely taken a hit. Since Mom's Social Security benefit doesn't even come close to paying for her current care needs, she relies on the money my father had saved and invested over the years (some of this money came from a lump-sum retirement benefit.)

As you can imagine, even though these funds were conservatively invested, they've taken a huge hit over the last six months or so. I read one article stating the current downturn has wiped out 45% of the world's wealth...I think it's come close to doing that to my mother's account. So while we're happy with Mom living in her house and the care she's getting, it's not a viable long-term option. Even if the recession hadn't happened, it still wouldn't be something we could continue indefinitely. 24/7 home care is very expensive.

Shortly after my return from my vacation, my sisters and I had a conference call to discuss what to do next. Since my eldest sister has a master's degree in accounting, we let her run the numbers for Mom's account to compare various options. We'd like Mom's money to last as long as possible, because physically Mom is still in very good health. Our options were to have Mom continue living in Albuquerque at a care facility there, or to have her move to a care facility located where one of us is located, either here in Texas where me and one of my sisters lives, or to Chicago where my other sister lives.

I had looked at a care facility in Albuquerque on my last trip out there, and it seemed nice but it was pretty expensive. There was another one in Albuquerque that was an option but it sounded to me like it wouldn't be a good fit for Mom. Also, we were concerned about my Mom living in a place without one of us being nearby to deal with any issues that may occur. My sister in Chicago looked at several places near where she lives, and me and my sister here looked around this area. I was having some trouble getting my head around the idea that Mom had to move, but I finally went out looking about 10 days ago, and I found a place I liked, close to where my sister and I live. They also had immediate openings.

My sister who lives here toured it later and liked it it was quite a bit cheaper than the facility in Albuquerque. Additionally, unlike the facilities in Albuquerque, this place allows pets, so Mom will be able to take her dog with her. I don't know how long Mom will be able to care for him, but even if it's just for another year or so, having him there when she moves in will be huge in helping with the transition, I think. Anyhow I can't post a link directly to where Mom will be moving without giving away my city, but here is a link to a similar facility that my sister toured (different company, though.)

We have reserved a room for Mom and done the preliminary paperwork. Actually, we got a private room I like that also turned out to be their last opening, so I was happy to get that taken care of. My sisters are flying to Albuquerque later this week to pack up clothes and things and move Mom out here a week from tomorrow. We will probably move some of her own furniture later but the facility provides furniture of its own for residents that need it, so she can use that for now. Also, after she moves and we figure out what to do with all the furniture...we will need to sell her house. Much work lies ahead, for sure.

That being said, when I compare where we were with Mom ten days ago, before we'd even decided on a place to move her, to where we've come now, I think we've done a lot. I am confident that Mom will adjust to her new residence, even if she hates it at first, and I'm happy that there will be two of us to help with any issues that come up while she lives there. And I'd better cut this short now, because I have some more phone calls to make to relatives regarding Mom's upcoming move.

By the way, because we are starting to tell relatives and friends that Mom is moving soon, I'm comfortable posting this entry (since I know my mother never visits the internet these days.) But just on the off chance someone reading this knows my Mom (and since this blog is linked and the entries are cross-posted to my Facebook account I think there's a few of you who do) please don't tell her anything about the upcoming move if you happen to speak to her.

Tune in next week to see how the move went.


Heather Meadows said...

Good for you guys. It's got to be strange and hard taking care of your mother in this way, but it sounds like you and your sisters have risen to the challenge. Best of luck with the move!

Suldog said...

God bless you all, Chuck. Not the easiest thing to have to accomplish, but you folks appear to be handling it with all due grace.

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