By Joshua Fink
For the mother, a very social person, it was a difficult adjustment. She had left all of her friends and social life behind in another state. She knew no one in her new location. She made efforts to change her circumstances and went about the business of finding and making new friends. At the same time, with her mother's odd behaviors becoming more alarming, the daughter found herself either letting her mother in or out of her apartment because misplacing keys was becoming a regular occurrence.
During this period, the daughter was taking her mother for regular monthly visits to the doctor to ensure her health remained stable at eighty-three years of age. Reporting the odd incidents to the doctor brought the "senile dementia" response, but after a concerned discussion about her mother's safety, he recommended moving her to an assisted living facility where her mother could live and enjoy many opportunities for social contact.
A new setting
With her mother moved into a "light care" assisted Living community, the daughter was relieved and felt her mother was in a secure environment. There were aids to help her with her grooming. There was an active social life and her little apartment was charming. Several months went by when the daughter began receiving reports that the aids often found all the lights on in the apartment in the morning and, added to that, were some late-night episodes that had disturbed other residents. Reporting the situation to the doctor produced a recommendation that she be tested for Alzheimer's symptoms. She fell asleep during the test.
Two more moves
The doctors recommended assisted Living facilities that offered more complete services and another move to a one-story, single-room occupancy facility took place. Offering additional services, including 24-hour monitoring in a controlled environment seemed to meet her mother's needs and the daughter's piece of mind. It was not to be. After two months, the daughter was informed that her mother needed more intensive care, and the staff recommended a move to a nursing home. Locating a facility near her, the daughter moved her mother one last time, where she stayed until Alzheimer's or old age took her away.
By the time the mother was diagnosed, it was too late to begin any kind of meaningful treatment. After two years of moving her from place to place, the daughter looked back to notice one thing that seemed a mere annoyance at the time, but could possibly be recognized as a first symptom: her mother began to restrict her conversation to clichés. It was as though she had no other way of communicating except "Yes" or "No". She exhibited numerous blank stares, and the daughter mistook the odd episodes (along with the doctors) as senility. They were all wrong.
For more information about senior housing communities in the Southeast and Pennsylvania, please visit http://www.slm.net. Senior Living Management Corp and its affiliates (SLM) operate and develop assisted living facilities throughout the Southeast and Pennsylvania.
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