had such a wonderful time when I was home. I didn’t even care to eat sometimes.
I don’t know how often I mentioned it, but I’m sure you know how pretty you
look. I’m so proud of you. I always liked your features and I love your
manners; you’re so sweet. Really, you have made me the happiest guy in the
world. Now that we are married everything is almost perfect. I can’t wait till
summer when you come to stay.
By the end of
November of 2008, I was asked to attend a meeting at Lakeview Reserve about the
welfare of my parents. After explaining the afternoon lessons to a substitute,
I left work early to begin the drive to my 1:00 p.m. appointment. As a teacher,
I’d called many conferences relating to student welfare. Those meetings with
families nearly always stemmed from a concern about lack of achievement. In my
frame of reference, being summoned to a meeting was a sign that things were not
going well. I had a sinking feeling. I’d spoken to Annette, and clarified she’d
take part via speakerphone. Entering the lobby, I was instructed by the
receptionist to find my contact person, whom I’d never met, at the second floor
nurse’s station. My contact greeted me with a businesslike handshake and led me
to a conference room where six staff members, ranging from medical
professionals to social workers and business managers, were already seated
around a large table with a speakerphone in the middle. All attendees
introduced themselves, giving their titles, and we quickly dialed Annette’s number.
As the phone rang, and my pulse quickened, the thought that I was outnumbered
six to one ran through my mind. I reeled back through parent-teacher conferences
where parents must have felt the same foreboding flooding me at this moment.
introduced herself again, now to Annette. Then, starting around the table, each
person gave facts, figures, and data as to why the environment at Lakeview
Reserve was not working for Ed and Ibby.
The meeting is a
blur in my memory, but the overarching thought in my mind was, “OK, how are we
going to work together to fix this?” As we continued the meeting, I slowly
began to realize the staff was trying to be compassionate, skirting around the
real issue––or perhaps I was blocking out what they were really saying.
Two-thirds of the professionals spoke before I realized they were telling me my
parents would have to move out.
This facility had
no secure, locked unit for Alzheimer’s patients. All hallways looked identical;
therefore Ed and Ibby couldn’t find their way around the building. A person
could get off the elevator on the third floor and think they were on the first
floor. Often Ed and Ibby could not locate the dining hall. They no longer had
the ability to tell time and were frequently late or early for dinner,
sometimes even appearing a second time within an hour because they’d forgotten
they’d just eaten. Mom and Dad were disoriented and could no longer remember
whether to turn left or right, or recall their own apartment number. They
became repeatedly lost and wandered within the facility, entering other
people’s apartments, confused as to why strangers and unfamiliar things were in
Even with the move
to the assisted living area, the aides were too short staffed to adequately
care for Mom and Dad’s ever-increasing needs. There was no way to monitor them
twenty-four/seven. I was given the names of three senior living facilities that
had locked Alzheimer’s units.
The logical part
of me understood Mom and Dad were no longer safe, and I was thankful Lakeview
Reserve was ultimately concerned enough to be honest with me about the need to
move Ed and Ibby to a more secure facility but I was heartbroken. I knew Annette and I would feel as though we had broken our promise that Mom and Dad could
live out their lives at Lakeview Reserve.
On my way home, I called Annette to tell her we had no choice but to move Mom and Dad. Annette and I talked about The Lodge, the facility I’d visited two and a half years
earlier with Mom and Dad after she broke her arm. At that time, the residents
seemed more progressed in the aging process than Ibby and Ed. We felt this was our best option.
We held our
breath, crossed our fingers, and prayed that they’d have room for Mom and Dad.
I felt petrified and physically ill at the thought that I might have to move
Mom and Dad to my house until we could find a locked unit for them. I didn’t
sleep that night––my thoughts reeling––I’ll to take Family Medical
Leave…What will I do with all of the possessions from their two bedroom
apartment in the midst of moving them into my home?