For the past several months I have been planning and preparing for today’s move. For the third time in 5 years I will be relocating my mother to a facility to take care of her while she’s living with dementia. I remember the first move like it was yesterday. It was the most gut wrenching decision I’ve ever had to make. At that time she was more independent, she knew who I was and even though there may have been some confusion, she could communicate with ease. She hated leaving the comfort of her home, losing her driving privileges and living in a community of people where she felt no connection. Thinking about this as I type brings tears to my eyes. At that time, upon my departure after every visit, she would watch me walk down the hallway. Before I’d turn the corner I would always turn around to wave goodbye to her. My heart would break every time seeing her yards away hanging outside her doorway just to bid me adieu. My feelings of guilt were strong; I always felt like I was abandoning her.
As the years went on and the disease progressed, it continued to be difficult for me and I became more numb. I’ve experienced every possible feeling in the book and had to come to terms with my new reality. To this day I still have some feelings of guilt that she is not living with family. I envy those who can keep their loved ones home, have the means to do so and have the family members who believe it’s normal to help with the care. But I realize that those that are caring for her and the other residents who I’ve witnessed watching over her are now part of her family.
That is why today’s relocation will be hard…again. You build attachments to residents and staff members – some more than others, but all the same I am saying goodbye…again. There are many residents who I’ve enjoyed spending time with, especially since there are those who do not get many visits from their own family members. Now we are off to a new place with a new system, new surroundings and new people who I hope will become like family to my mom. A physical relocation is one thing, but an emotional relocation is very different. I am praying I will find comfort with both.