Moving an Aging Parent from Long-Distance – Part XXII


by Joy Loverde

It’s time to tell Bill that he’s out of choices, and that the move to Chicago is taking place in a few short weeks. With a history of resistance and temperamental outbursts, I must be very cautious regarding my approach when bringing up this sensitive topic with Bill. In the back of my mind at all times is the fact that Mom’s health is at risk. Her weak heart can’t take one more setback.

I determine that talking to Bill about the move will take on an “intervention” approach. The strategy is to surround myself and Mom with the professionals who work in the nursing home. I contact Daryl, the social worker at Signature where Bill is residing, and ask him for his opinion on how best to proceed. He suggests that Mom is the best messenger, and she will tell Bill that he’s being moved back to Chicago. Mom is on board with this plan.

When the day comes to deliver the news to Bill, Daryl and I have a brief coaching session with Mom so she will feel more in control of the situation. We role play a bit, and when she says she’s ready to take on the task, she, Daryl and I make our way down the long hallway to Bill’s bedside. All three of us are prepared for ANYTHING to happen in case Bill reacts in an argumentative manner (as he always has in the past).

I hold my breath as Mom calmly tells Bill the about the Chicago move. Bill looks at Mom with a puzzled look; then Bill looks at me, and then at Daryl. I can’t read his face nor can I tell what Bill’s thinking. Interestingly enough, there appears to be no sign of Bill’s historical immediate reluctance to the idea of the move to Chicago. Then he surprises us all. He smiles and looks at Mom and says, “Let’s go!” Needless to say the three of us are greatly relieved.

And, I am not 100% convinced that Bill won’t have second thoughts after we leave. So Mom and I talk with Daryl about this probability, and Daryl assures us that he and his staff are prepared to calm Bill down until the day he leaves Signature for good.

Now the rush is on. I kick into gear – full speed ahead.  I now have to figure out how to get Bill to Chicago. He cannot fly on a commercial plane - he is not physically or mentally capable of that kind of activity. Besides, one outburst from Bill can bring down the plane.

While I am thinking about how to transport Bill to Chicago, I continue to have my suspicions and wonder what Bill will cook up to sabotage the move to Chicago. I feel like I am playing a chess game and trying to anticipate Bill’s every move.