Parenting the Parents, Part III. The Move. And the Aftermath.

Actually, we were beyond relieved that they’d decided so easily to move – it would be so much better to have them closer, to get them set up with doctors who would be more aligned with what they needed, to actually get my dad diagnosed (we still had nothing that was in any way definitive), and to be able to keep a closer eye on them. Within 6 weeks (by Mother’s Day) the condo was theirs, and we’d begun the emotionally draining process of getting them ready to move, which we targeted for late June. Dad was easy – he just rolled along with everything – but it was bumpier with mom, who’d never been very easygoing to begin with. It all finally came together though, and in the meantime, we were able to start lining up doctors for dad here (to give credit where it’s due, “we” was mostly my sister, who has a background in the medical field, and blessedly, offered to take all of that on).

Within a couple of weeks of moving in, Dad had seen a new PCP, had several tests performed, and finally had a clear diagnosis: vascular dementia. He was scheduled to meet with a neurologist who specialized in dementia and Alzheimers and also with a Geriatric Psychiatrist, though the appointment with the neurologist wasn’t until early October, and the appointment with the Geriatric Psych was 3 long months away.

I had been genuinely surprised at how much mom seemed to like the condo while we were getting ready to move them in. The layout, I will acknowledge, was perfect, and the woman who’d owned it previously (or her spouse, or both?) had clearly had some mobility issues, as evidenced by the well-placed grab-bars and the stair-glide chairs leading up BOTH the main staircase and down to the (finished, 1000 square foot) basement. However, mom had a pretty good eye for interior decorating, and there were a LOT of things that I figured she’d hate, and want to change: paint colors, the horrible pinkish Corian kitchen countertops and stock white cabinets, the contractor’s grade faucets and mostly heinous, cheap light fixtures.

At first, these things didn’t seem to bother her, but it didn’t take long before her inability to handle the stress of all the change started leaking out in her annoyance over any number of little issues: how the refrigerator doors would sometimes pop open when you closed one side or the other (it’s one of those “French door” models with the freezer at the bottom. Ironically, it was the exact same kind as she had in her previous kitchen but that was the stainless steel version, and this was the white one). How the freezer drawer sometimes didn’t close all the way. Something with the dishwasher. The oven controls glitching out. How you had to move the handle on the kitchen faucet *just* right to get it to totally turn off. They’d bought a home warranty when they got the place, and we used it. The appliance guy came out. Fixed whatever was wrong with the dishwasher. Turned around the basket in the freezer, which was in backwards and preventing the drawer from closing properly. But man, with every new issue, I’d get an angry phone call, and serious attitude. Everything was shit. She hated this place. She wished she were just dead.

It didn’t help that she was having to pretty much act as full-time caretaker for my dad. He’d been having issues with incontinence for quite some time (not unusual with certain types of dementia), so Depends were a routine item on the shopping list, but there were accidents sometimes, and she’d act as if he were doing it on purpose. Same with the issues with the mail. Why she persisted in handing it to him, despite the results, and me reminding her, every time something would go missing, to Stop. Handing. Him. The. Mail, I don’t know. I had set up a folder for her to put bills and statements when they came in, and I’d come over a few times a week to sort through them. Yet still, she’d hand him stuff sometimes. Part of me thinks she did it knowing there would be issues, but that it would give her another place to channel her anger and frustration.

The visit to the Geriatric Psychiatrist couldn’t get here soon enough.

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