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Moving mom from her house to an independent living studio because she shouldn’t live alone and hates living alone, she definitely has some cognitive decline too and shouldn’t be driving.


She is really attached to her 3 piece sofa set. She says she wants nothing but those. Not even TV which she does watch, or dressers or any other furniture. She has a brain lock on them and does not make any sense. Although I have drawn up floor plans and told her if she brings all 3 then there’ll be no floor space at all, she says she would stack them on top of each other.


Moving day is coming soon. We convinced her to stay overnight the day before at my sibling’s house so we can have the movers load stuff and then clean up, while she’ll meet them at the studio.


Then I will only move the love seat and a chair, leave the 3 seaters big sofa behind and tell her it just won’t fit.


I feel it is the right thing to do. She can no longer think logically and cannot comprehend the space is too small.


But I also worry she might have a melt down. To avoid conflict I feel like just do as told and let her have all the sofas even though it makes no sense. In the long run, it’s probably tripping hazard too.


What to do?

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I would do exactly as you plan. As far as she is concerned, you will bring it. But, obviously, you don’t. Instead, you set it up with the loveseat and chair and the rest of what she will REALLY need as you planned. When she gets there, just say they didn’t fit and the facility won’t let you have a fire hazard (they need walkways) and room for EMTs to come through, whatever.

If she has a meltdown, try to divert and just say you will keep working on it and maybe in a month or two after things settle down, you guys will revisit the floor plan. Because this move has taken up a lot of your time, and you have some things to do before you can come back to it. Say, “no worries, Mom, all your stuff will still be safe... we’ll figure it out eventually. Did you see all of your... Hummels, photo albums, crystal ponies... on the shelf here?”

The thought of it being her choice is one thing. But someone who thinks the idea of stacking big, unwieldy furniture on TOP of another isn’t exhibiting good judgement, and I would guess that, were she not cognitively compromised, she would never suggest such a thing. That very fact should be a factor in your assessment of what to do here. Safety and common sense factor in as well. Again, if it was all up to her, she would be handling this all by herself. Compromise is life in this type of situation.

That being said, try to mention the move as little as possible between now and time to go. Advance notice on things (planning floor plans, talking about packing boxes, etc.) help a normal, healthy brain. Not so for broken brains. I had to tell my DH’s siblings to stop talking about everything with the ILs. They are a very talkative family and could not understand that their “thinking out loud” was unbelievably upending for their parents. Even planning Christmas for weeks on end would send them into a tailspin. A doctor appointment in 2 weeks? We had to go over it and over it for an hour everyday until it happened. It is so normal to want to “help” by going over details. And the ILs would SAY they want to know things. But new fact retention and executive function and determining steps to accomplish a goal are usually pretty compromised even with just MCI. We had to go with looking at the outcome (tailspin) rather than what they said. It is almost kinder to give minimum details.

And gently, expect avoiding conflict to move down your list of priorities now, lol. It probably won’t be possible. We found we just had to change how we relate to them and to grow a pretty thick skin. Safety came first (theirs and ours) and then we would focus on as much “happy” as we could provide.

It will be especially this way with the move. You will probably hear “take me home”, “I hate it here”, “you did this to me”, “the staff is terrible”, “you just wanted to get rid of me” and any number of the more standard drama that comes after a move like this. Read often here on how to divert, how to avoid direct answers in order to not “feed the beast”, how to help ward off rumination, and how to leave if the drama gets too bad.

It is a very different way of looking at things, and it is definitely no fun. But it sounds like you have good instincts. Stick with those instead of letting the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) make you second guess yourself. You love your mother, that is obvious. But, love in this case is more than making someone happy (which is unlikely in any event).

I hope that this facility has Assisted Living attached to it? It sounds like you may be heading in to more than just “mild” cognitive impairment. That kind of obsessive and illogical thinking is not likely to improve.

Just my thoughts... good luck to you.
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Ludmila Oct 15, 2019
Thank you. I am just so exhausted so she’s getting what she wants. I think she’ll have to downsize again. Or she might want to move into a larger place later ( which she can’t afford ). We will have to deal with that later. Sigh.
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If it gets her into the new place without all the emotional distress that most older folks with this type of move experience - take the sofa set.

Deal with changing it out once she’s been there and lived with its awkwardness a while. You likely have better luck then - and less
drama and stress.
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Ludmila Oct 15, 2019
Thank you!
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We just moved my mother into a studio as well. She too wanted more things brought than would fit. Some of those extras are still in a box and some are at my house. After actually being in the apartment and unpacking, she can better see what will work and what is excessive. Perhaps it will help to store the sofa for a bit "for later" or for swapping out for something else.
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Really hard. I haven't forgotten my mother's tears over - I won't insult it, chacun à son goût and all that and she loved it - her suite, in spite of its age, decrepitude and ridiculously large footprint.

Hm - does this furniture have special associations for her, do you know?
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Ludmila Oct 15, 2019
I don’t know. I don’t understand it.

after much drama and tantrum I caved. I figure she’ll have to downsize again later.
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I'd take as much as I could, to avoid emotional distress.   After she acclimates, she may decide on her own that the sofa, or one or the other pieces (which she doesn't want now but may later) aren't necessary, but then it's HER decision.  

In fact, the sofa would allow her to have guests w/o going into the central community areas.   And presumably her family, including you, would be one of those guests!

The sofa is obviously more important to her than other pieces, so I wouldn't disrupt whatever connection there is.   It may be the "tie that binds" and holds her in good stead as she acclimates to a new living environment.
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