Time for the Annual Move
My mother has a saying. “Moving is like dying and going to hell.” Certainly, no one looks forward to packing their belongings, hauling them to another location, unpacking them and trying to recreate the organization they had where they came from. As a real estate agent, everyone of my clients is leading up to a move, outside of investors selling or buying rental property. While the majority of them are looking forward to a new chapter in their next home, some are moving not out of want, but out of necessity. This has been my life with my mother for the past five years. Take the stress of moving and combine it with emotionally draining circumstances and you can feel like someone is bludgeoning you from the inside out.
The Move of 2018: It all started with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia, which came one or two years earlier. Mom was slowly losing ground with her memory. She would get anxious in the car at night, not knowing where she was. She seemed to have trouble keeping new memories and blamed it on getting old. Finally, my brother revealed, mom had called him because she didn’t know her way home from the store. We weren’t convinced mom was okay to be alone anymore and it took us two years, and taking her car from her, to convince her to move to Ashby Ponds in Ashburn. She started in Independent Living. At that point in time, she could still do most things for herself. That was Halloween, 2018.
The Move of 2019: After starting a new life in Ashby Ponds, the depth of mom’s day to day trouble functioning was revealed. A move to such a big community was a lot for my mom. Had we moved her there five years earlier, she may have been able to stay in Independent Living longer and enjoy all the community had to offer. Instead, after a several month attempt at having once daily help with her evening routine, the move to the smaller world of Assisted Living happened in September.
The Move of 2020: Mom thrived in Assisted Living. She really did well there…until the pandemic shut down all socialization and group dining in March. Mom went downhill cognitively as if she was heading downhill from the top of a rollercoaster. And she wasn’t the only one. Residents were like pound puppies, left to live in their small apartments and dine alone. Attempts at video chats didn’t fill the void. And not seeing anyone’s facial expressions due to the masks made reading non-verbal cues hard. Her exit seeking behavior and anxiety made the decision easy. It was off to Memory Care that October.
The Move of 2021: Memory Care was a tough pill to swallow, but necessary at the time. Again, mom found her stride and thrived there. Then, late on the evening of June 29th, mom was roaming the halls anxiously looking for my deceased father and fell. She broke her hip. What started as a short-term physical therapy/convalescence stay in the Post Acute floor of Ashby Ponds, turned into an August move to her hospital room there. She had developed wounds on her heels and required more nursing care than Memory Care would allow. Then, just as I felt like the annual moves were over…
The Move of 2022: Mom has healed enough physically to go back to Memory Care. Believe it or not, this may be the happiest move we have had of all five. Mom is going back where she can thrive in a world meant for her and not be trapped on a floor because of one physical ailment. Plus, she gets back most of her stuff that has been sitting in a storage unit.
Each of these moves has been most taxing on an emotional level. I have found it comforting to make lists of tasks I can do each day and surround myself with a team of compassionate specialists. Last year’s move was really hasty and needed to be done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Every other move has been with the assistance of movers that specialize in relocating seniors. To this day, I really wish I had hired the senior move service last year.
Mom doesn’t realize she has moved most times. It’s a tough thing on my brother and me. We have had to downsize her each time and that process is always painful. We end up going through photos and nick nacks evaluating whether or not she needs or wants them. Most times the answer is no, so we divest of her belongings, as you would when a parent dies. I hope that this fifth annual move is our last. The struggle of moving elderly family members who are in decline is one of the hardest moves you will ever undergo.
As a licensed Associate Broker in Viriginia, my job is to help sellers get great terms when selling their home in the time frame that suits them best. As a daughter who has dealt with an annual move of my declining mother, I am honored to make moves like these as easy as possible for my elder clients and their family. I am happy to share whatever experience I have gained from having been down this well worn path. Please don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of assistance.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Chris Ann Cleland, not Long & Foster.