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Honor Thy Parents: The Time Has Come

Watching our parents age is one of the hardest things we have to do. I know you all who have been through this understand what we are going through now. Many of my friends went through it years ago and we are very blessed that our parents have made it this long. But with longevity comes challenges. When I did a family update a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize then how quickly things would change with my mom and dad. Of course, you hope that your parents can stay in their home for the long haul and not have to move and get help, but that’s not always realistic either.

With mom’s accelerated back issues, she is no longer able to stand and work in the kitchen, cooking and baking. This means that they have to have help coming in and we have had someone doing that a few times a week, with me going over a couple times a week. Take-out has been our friend for months and thank goodness for country cooking places! They saved the day for us.

We took dad’s keys in mid-July. That hasn’t gone well either as he discovered his keys were missing but his car and truck were still there. We 3 girls sat down with him on his birthday and told him all the reasons why he shouldn’t be driving anymore. He didn’t agree, of course. I took his car keys just to  make sure he didn’t drive. He asked several times about his keys and I told him he wasn’t driving anymore and his answer was always “who decided that I can’t drive?”. We’ve gone over it numerous times, but with dementia comes irrational thinking and he simply can’t willingly give up his keys without a fight or verbal confrontation.

It got pretty bad over a month into the key taking scheme and we had some pretty rough days of anger and frustration. Mom has taken the brunt of it since she is there with him all the time, but I had several conversations with him on the phone and in person and eventually for the sake of peace for mom, I had to return the keys to the hooks they hung on for the last 50 years just so he could see them there. He went back and forth with saying he wasn’t planning on driving to telling me he can’t promise me that he won’t drive. I don’t think he will, but there’s something about those keys hanging there that gave him peace of mind. That sweet daddy of mine can seem like a different personality when this anger comes out. Needless to say, something has to give and mom can’t live like this either.

Mom is just exhausted physically and emotionally and I’ve so grieved that she has had to go through this. We love daddy and he’s a sweet man at heart, but as we all know dementia can drastically change the personality of a person and sometimes we don’t know what we will get. He’s obstinate and can be so irrational, but that’s the nature of dementia. He has a memory care doctor and is on medication, but we will certainly be looking into more treatment for him to cope better. It’s not easy y’all! I know many of you have probably gone through this too, so you know the drill. He says not so nice things to mom and then promptly forgets he ever said it, but she doesn’t forget. It’s been hard on her. He even told her once when she repeated back what he said to her, “But I don’t feel that way. Next time I say that, tell me…you don’t really feel that way.” I wish it was that easy, but it’s not!

Walking through this time has been heart breaking and eye openingly apparent that things can’t stay like this. We had talked about them staying in their home for at least another year if things were going OK, but Mom told me last week she was ready to move to an assisted living facility and wanted me to start the process of looking. Since the burden of the house and all business dealings have gone to mom the last 5 years or so, we have to think about her mental and physical health first and foremost. Daddy will be a challenge to move. He’s always said he would die in that house and had no plans to ever move. And he won’t willingly move, so we will have to do it for him and make the decisions for both of their health and well being. It’s not easy! I now feel like the parent and I finally get what that means.

Since my sister, Renee, moved in April to Louisiana, we had no idea things would deteriorate this fast, but that’s what has happened. I’m not upset that she moved, I’m happy for her actually that she is closer to Lauren and the girls and I look forward to visiting them often. This sandwich generation thing is not a piece of cake as we all know. We always knew that the two of us (and Lauren) would have to juggle their care in the future until the Lord takes them home.

With mom completely worn out, it’s time. Time to move them to a place they can be safe, well fed, and taken care of day to day. I want mom to be spoiled for once in her life. She deserves it so much. That woman has taken care of my dad for almost 68 years, as well as her entire family in the best way possible and it’s time for her to rest and just be. I’m more excited for her than anything else. She will be waited on in a beautiful environment and can relax and not worry about a thing. It’s definitely time for that to happen! She is an angel and has been the best mom and grandmother to all of us. I want her spoiled to the max! No more cooking and cleaning and no more worrying about taking care of a house all alone.

When I took her to see the facility last week, she told me that when she met daddy she knew he didn’t have much of anything and that he came from a poor family (he was one of 10 kids). She said she wanted to spoil him when they got married and give him things he had never had before. And she did just that, she spoiled him to the max with her cooking and day to day care of him. She still worries about him and how he’s doing.

Daddy is going to go kicking and screaming and we are not at all sure how we are going to manage this move for him. We are praying for wisdom and also for help from his doctors as we navigate this new life for them. They have lived in that house for 50 years and change is not going to come easy for him. Mom will adjust just fine. He will not at first, but I pray he will learn to find contentment and joy in his new surroundings.

His life now consists of getting up early, eating his raisin bran and bananas, drinking a cup of coffee, going out to the carport or driveway and watching the traffic go by (what there is to see on his non-busy street), gawking at the neighbors to see what they are doing, taking the trash can out to the curb once a week and getting the mail every day. All of that and watching a little TV. Mom said he doesn’t even read anymore, another loss from dementia I’m sure.

So with that picture painted, I’m hoping he will adjust and actually come to like his new home and all that it offers. I’ve been doing the legwork of finding a new place for them to go and we’ve narrowed it down to a sweet assisted living that is 5 minutes from our house in Acworth. I’m so excited that this place worked out so nicely and that they will be so close that I can pop in often. That will be nice for both of us. I won’t have to grocery shop for them anymore, all their meals will be provided for them. They will have a cleaning service and laundry service at the new place and will not have to worry about much of anything day to day. That will be a relief for mom and she’s the one who can relax the most and enjoy this new way of life with the burden lifted off her shoulders.

I’ll share more about the facility when we get them moved in, but I’ll mention the name in case anyone has input for us. We decided on Dogwood Forest in downtown Acworth. It’s such a pretty place (has a 4.4 star review) and when I toured it after I saw a total of 5 places, I felt like it was the one for them. It also has Memory Care for the future if and when daddy gets worse. We’ve already put down a deposit and are planning to get them moved by the end of September. Mom is more than ready and we have a lot of planning to do the next few weeks to get things in place and the move completed to create a cozy home environment for them in their new place. We will be praying on how to handle the situation with daddy. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, so we might have to go that route.

Last week, I took mom by there for a tour of the place and the one bedroom apartment that’s reserved for them and she liked it too which made me happy. She said your daddy will think this is too fancy and he probably will. He is not a fancy guy at all as you all can see from the pictures I post. She will enjoy it I know. The West Florida born boy will have to adjust to it.

We will get their one bedroom apartment set up with their things and make it as comfortable and homey as we can for them. Getting them settled in and comfortable will be priority for us and I hope that all goes well. We have so much to do!

That’s the latest update on mom and dad. We knew this day would come and that likely they would not be able to stay in their home forever. It’s a nice thought, but doesn’t always happen. We are blessed that they have had such a long life, but the 90’s have kicked them into another layer of issues, especially with dad’s dementia. He still gets around pretty well, eats great and loves being outside. He just can’t logically think anymore and has no memory day to day on things. It’s so sad to see, but we know that this happens to so many people and we hope he is able to settle in and enjoy the new community he will be a part of. In many ways, I think he might enjoy the socialization part of assisted living, time will tell. I think it will be great for mom, as she is often lonely at home with just her and daddy. They don’t have those detailed conversations anymore that couples have, dementia has taken that too.

Thank you all for loving on my parents all these years. I’m coming up on 15 years of blogging and I’ve shared them almost from the beginning of my journey. You all have embraced them, loved on them and cheered them on all the way. We know this is the best thing for them and it’s time for this move and big life changes. Your prayers would be appreciated as we navigate this journey with them, helping them to get settled in and acclimated to their new home. I’m so grateful that they have the means to do this and will be able to live out the rest of their lives taken care of in a loving safe environment with me just 5 minutes away. What peace of mind that will be for me! Renee and Lauren will continue to come and visit often and we will celebrate as we always do as a family with holidays and special occasions. God has been good to us! We will see what the future holds for both of them, but I pray they don’t suffer at all in their last days.

When I think back on these parents of mine, I’m forever grateful that they have paved the way and shown me clearly who God is to them and who He has ultimately become to me. That’s the most important thing my parents passed on to me, faith in an ever loving omnipresent God of the universe who intimately cares about each and every one of us and our daily needs. He has always taken care of them and also me and for that I’m so thankful. He has never let me down and I’m so grateful for their Godly influence in my life. When we get to the end of life, it matters not how much money we have in the bank, or what kind of house we live in. Those things mean nothing in the end. It’s knowing and having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that matters. My parents have lived that out better than anyone I know and he has blessed them for it.

From my daddy standing up each Sunday for 28 years here in Georgia, preaching God’s Word to a small congregation of people, to my mama teaching children’s church and sharing those awe inspiring stories from the Bible that came alive on a meager flannel board with cutouts, my faith began and it has strengthened and sustained me throughout the years. So much of that is the influence of my Godly parents. They gave me the most precious gift I could ever receive, parents who love the Lord and each other. I pray He keeps them safe and takes care of them until He decides when it’s time to take them home. I pray it is quickly and without suffering. They have lived a long and Godly life with so many blessings along the way.

Mark is also going through similar things with his mom, since she broke her hip. She’s going to sell her house too and we don’t yet know what she is going to do next. She still has lots of physical therapy and healing to do and then will figure out next steps.

If you watch my lunch with the parents on Instagram, I guess I’ll be doing those videos from the new assisted living facility soon. I’ll still take you all along for the ride! Thanks for all your prayers and concern, it means the world to us as a family!


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