Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Moving Someone into an ALF or Nursing Home...It's Just Not That Simple

A childhood friend of mine is moving her mother into the Assisted Living Facility (ALF) where my Mam-ma Polly lived.  She messaged me to ask how I labeled Mam-ma's clothes.  I responded:

"Use a Sharpie® marker for most things... even socks (I labeled the toes). They make one that is for laundry, but I've found that all Sharpies® are pretty laundry-proof. For darks, I got a white paint pen in the craft section at Wal-Mart that worked on fabrics. I tried to put her name on labels wherever possible... but on undies, etc., I usually did the waistband.

Remember to label all of her toiletries, too... shampoos, cosmetics, etc. It will save you trouble down the line when she says, "Someone stole so-and-so!" I even labeled Mam-ma's towels & linens... don't think I did her bed sheets, but I should have... we ended up with a whole bunch in the closet that were not ours. Label her laundry hamper... EVERYTHING!  I know this is mind-boggling."


Another family friend recently moved his brother's widow into a nursing home.  He lives in North Carolina... several states away from Arkansas.  Still, he must make all sorts of decisions, including what to do with his brother's home and all of the personal belongings.  Last summer, I assisted friends who were trying to decide how to dispose of their parents' belongings.  The family members had all gotten what they wanted, and the house needed to be sold... but what would they do with all of the furnishings and bric-a-brac?  In the end, I advised them to have an auction.  Making money was not the concern, and I pointed out that it would all be over with in a day... and everything would be hauled away.  No carrying leftovers from an estate sale to a thrift working hard for days/weeks to price every item and set up the sale.  Pay the auctioneer a percentage of the sales and let him/her do the work!  From all I saw and heard, this couple was pleasantly surprised with the end results.

A childhood friend of my brother's passed away last week, and we attended her funeral.  While visiting with a sister-in-law, she shared that she had lost her mother two months ago, and now she is trying to determine what to do with her 89-year-old father.  He has macular degeneration and cannot live alone.  As we talked, I realized that this woman is a member of the Sandwich Generation, also.  She has two nearly-grown children, but one just graduated from college, and the other is a university sophomore.  So while she figures out what to do with her dad, balances the daily challenges of a job and a marriage, she also must be a mom to her two children.  Sandwiches do indeed come in all sizes and shapes!

At the end of the day, none of this is easy.  One of my HOSPICE nurse friends asked me if I had noticed a big gap of extra time now that Mam-ma is gone.  My reply?  "Not really."  She nodded... "That's how it goes... things just seem to fill in."  And she's right!  Between my little ones, now ages 4, 2 and 1, and my 87-year-old mother-in-law, my own marriage, responsibilities and more, the time seems to fly!  All of this underscores the point that we do what we have to do when faced with the challenges of caring for our loved ones... regardless of their age.

So my friend will get everything labeled, and the other will figure out how to manage his sister-in-law and her estate long distance.  The classmate's wife will figure out what is best for her dad - and something will come along to make my life even busier again!  None of it is "simple" - but it's what we do!  And I guess that's what makes life interesting... and every  "sandwich" unique!