alt=Moving boxes

Turning Points: Moving

My grandma celebrated her 86th birthday, ahead of what will be a big couple of months with her. Thankfully, none of us are gathering with others in ways that pose any COVID risk, and our current public health orders allow us to have her over for dinner for her birthday. Celebrating with pizza and a cake from the grocery store that I felt didn't look quite festive enough, asking if she wanted sprinkles, and presenting her with one of those containers of 5 different types of sprinkles for her to choose from!

It was a good day

While she grumbled a bit about not liking the number 86 representing her age, we were happy her birthday was one of those "good days" in terms of her Alzheimer's symptoms. She repeatedly told my mom how nice of a day she had on the drive home, and even called me the next day to tell me how pretty the new Winnipeg-themed mask I had given her was. Even with all the changes she knows are ahead, I think she has truly internalized they are for the best.

I'm 29, so maybe others have these thoughts a few years down the road, but I never really thought about the big "turning points' we experience later in life until now. Big events are still big events, and certainly lead to good things, even if they are different!

The move

My grandma moved into an assisted living apartment block at the beginning of April. As I have written before, I think they should make similar places for millennials because it sounds ideal to me, but that's beside the point. She received her COVID vaccine on March 16th and got to share the experience with 20 of her new neighbors.

When she moved in, recreation programs still weren't running, the dining room was closed, and meals were brought to the tenant's apartment. While this is, of course, probably not the "best" introduction to her new home community, I do think it was actually a good thing in the end. She will be able to put her mask on and wander the halls and meet people, then retreat to her apartment when she wants a break.

When activities start again, I predict they may be shorter and in smaller groups, allowing her to be less overwhelmed as she gets to know people. It is always easier to convince yourself to go try something for 30 minutes rather than an hour! I imagine people may be invited back to the dining room the same way, coming for dinner in smaller groups that will help her to adjust with potentially less confusion. So while the circumstances may not be ideal, they may actually be better for what she and others with dementia need!

Parting and packing memories

Moving is difficult for everybody: the packing, the boxes, the strategizing, the organization. It is of course even harder for someone already experiencing Alzheimer's disease. Including delusions as well as not knowing where your stuff is, or not being able to "see it" when it is there, or believing things have been "taken." Moving will be a bit of a challenge because of these changes and our family cabin sold.

Now, my grandparents swore they would sell it when they were 70, then 75. Well, now my grandma is 86, so it was past time! The new owners took over the cabin on May 15, 45 days after my grandma's move. Talk about everything at once. So not only does our family have the adjustment ahead of my grandma moving into her new home, but we also are packing up and moving out of our weekend and summer holiday retreat. If I recall correctly, my grandparents bought it from my great-grandparents in 1956, and my grandma has been going to a cabin since she was 4 years old. That means 82 years of summer weekend visits have come to an end as well! It is yet another turning point.

Do you have tips for moving a loved one with Alzheimer's disease? Let me know in the comments!

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