So....I dunno if this is appropriate to post someone else's story, but this is a public figure, so....

For those of you who don't know, Jann Arden is an amazing and very well-known singer/songwriter here in Canada. Her mom has Alzheimer's and Jann has been writing quite honestly about her story on Facebook for some time now. She just posted this amazing story today, about how she moved her mom into a care home yesterday. I know not everyone has the resources to do it this way, but I thought it was very cleverly done and wanted to share it


So. Life didn't stop. The world is still revolving. The sun is rising up like the sun tends to do. My mom is all moved into her new home. She is on a 'memory' floor in a brand new building in S.W. Calgary. It's bright and colorful and beautifully and tastefully set up with soft couches and roomy chairs; lots of tables and nooks to sit and ponder and nap and dream of good days yet to come.

I was prepared for the absolute worst scenario. I pictured mom bracing herself against the car door, refusing to get out. I had imagined piercing cries of "I WANNA GO HOME! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?! NO NO NO NO NO!"

We heard none of that. She came with us calmly and quietly and was of good cheer. She had NO idea where we were.

The plan was fairly simple, but it took months of planning. Nadine, (and Nadine's wonderful partner Dave)-you guys are nothing short of a miracle workers. I bet you had NO idea what you were getting yourself into when you started working with my family three years ago Nadine....SORRY!!! LOL.

The plan was this:
-fly mom to Palm Springs for a five day get-a-way. I took Nadine and Donna Marie, one of our other main caregivers.

-Nadine came back 2 days early and organized the main move-bigger items from mom's house; her lounge chair, a single bed, a few chairs, tables, lamps, a nice area rug- paintings to hang, pictures in frames of family and friends- clothes, things for the mini fridge, toiletries- everything she would need to be comfortable and familiar. Nadine had to buy a TV and get the cable hooked up- she bought two sets of sheets, towels, toilet paper, YOU NAME IT- She had to move mom's life basically and make it seem like it had been there forever -in this new space. She did an amazing job.

-We needed to get mom a bit disoriented AND, get her OUT of her house so that we weren't moving from 'HOME' to a 'New WEIRD PLACE.' It seemed like a good idea to go straight from the Calgary airport when we landed, to the memory care center. (That's what I'm calling it)

Nadine worked her ass off and I am so grateful. The little "Calgary apartment", which is what I told mom it was- looked absolutely wonderful. 375 sq. ft. of loveliness.

Mom walked into her new place and sat down on her recliner. "I recognize that picture." She pointed at a painting hanging on the wall in front of her. She's had it for 50 years.

Everywhere there were little bits of her life and her mind seemed to 'accept' it as familiar and warm and real. She was everything I thought she wasn't going to be. She liked it. She was serene and easy going.

There was a lot going on granted, she was disoriented for sure and eventually we all had to leave, except of course for the staff who were buzzing around making mom feel welcome and introducing themselves.

It was weird.
It's still super weird.

Normal- well, normal is an ever changing thing.

The pets are a bit scrambled. Belle seems down. She is with Midi and I and eventually I hope she will adjust. She is getting extra treats and extra walks down the road. She's at my feet as I write this, sighing every few seconds if I don't talk to her.

Last night she sat on mom's front step and howled. It was heart breaking. She howled on and off through out the day. I walked her through mom's house twice, just to show her that no one was there. It gave me a lump in my throat the size of a horse. She reluctantly came with me. She slept here for the first time last night and did pretty well. I got up a few times to talk to her and let her out to pee.

L.B. has gone to live with Donna Marie. They are good pals and I know he's going to have a great life. We think he is about 3 years old? It was hard splitting up Belle and L.B., but so are the spoils of war. When I travel, Belle will go live with Nadine and Dave as she loves them and knows them. We all have to make adjustments and get on with these new versions of our lives.

I am headed up to see Mom in a few hours.

Nadine saw her yesterday and mom told her that she had lived there about a year!? We both are gobsmacked at how she has taken to all of this. I know these are early days, but so far, she is of good cheer, chatting with people, sitting in the common area and walking around- eating well, having snacks, being friendly. I could NOT ask for more.

I feel relieved, sad, happy, up, down. You name it.

This is not only a new chapter, but a whole new book.

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I sought out Jann's book Feeding My Mother when I first read this post from Dorianne.... well the hold I had placed on it at the library finally brought the book to my inbox yesterday (yeah, there was a looong waiting list) and today I devoured it. OMG, this just so wonderfully captures the experience of being the child of parents who need care. It isn't really a recipe book, it is a diary with a sprinkling of recipes thrown in. Jann writes so well about the spiritual -soulful? - part of living with aging and dementia - I strongly recommend this book!

Dorianne I've read parts of Jann's journey on FB too. My Mom was the same when we wheeled her into her new place. She pointed at things and for the first little while anyway she was happy there. It didn't last..........but at least she was happy at the beginning which made the transition easier for me too.

chdottir - Yes! I shared Jann's post with my BFF, and she said she is putting the idea in her back pocket!

Thanks for sharing. I thought her process of having her Mom go from unfamiliar surrounds to her new apartment, vs from home to new, was a good idea. Might not work for everyone but it is a possible tool if we get to that point.

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