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“There’s life in the old girl yet”; unbelievable update about Mum

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my still feisty Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

No one wants to be a downer blogger. Generally speaking, I’m a pretty cheery, positive person, while also being sensitive to the cruelty and grief of merely being alive. My 82-yr old Mum (who lives in England, while I’m here in Australia) has Dementia, as most of you know, and I had a challenging time on my visit to her in August. She was still living alone in her rented flat, albeit supported by 5 Carer visits a day, and categorically refusing to even entertain the possibility/probability of needing to move to a group Home…

Except events came to a head, as they are wont to do, and the Police were called a few times while Mum was wandering the neighbourhood feeling completely disorientated. I chose to keep all that quiet here, partly out of respect for her privacy, and also because I didn’t want to be a downer blogger.

So she was recently moved into a small temporary Home nearby, for her safety and wellbeing, much to the family’s relief. But for her, the ‘shit hit the fan’.

She spent a week throwing furniture, yelling at staff, being utterly incompliant, and trying to escape at any opportunity. The 2nd week calmed a little, but she was still essentially defiant.

But guess what? By the fourth week, she knew her way around, was making friends, could contentedly sit in the garden without fleeing, and was putting on weight with the regular meals provided.

Most excitedly, she was happily singing in the ‘choir’, laughing and joking with the singing teacher, PLUS making a special connection with another resident called ‘David’.

As in, flirting and hanging out together.

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my still feisty Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

Go Mum! Apparently the staff needed to ‘manage’ their interactions, making sure they weren’t left alone…

I felt so proud: not bad for 82 huh?

The Home have offered her a permanent place now, if we want her to stay there rather than move to Wales; we’re still wondering what to do. A dark cloud of concern lifted off my shoulders at this turn of events; we still now have to deal with the contents of her flat, but when I last spoke to her and asked if she missed her old place, she told me over and over that no she didn’t.

So what do we do with a lifetime’s collection of ‘stuff’? Do the paintings, books, china and jewellery of my childhood memories really matter? It’s such an interesting question for me, and I’m appreciating the opportunity to truly investigate my responses. In the meantime, Mum is happily singing, flirting, and munching her way through the Autumn days, and I will no longer have to worry that she’s warm enough, bored silly, or that her tummy is full.

In complete gratitude for group Homes, the welfare state, & social services, G xO

50 Comments

  1. I’m glad she’s doing so well, and reommend keeping everything in a storage unit or similar to give you and other involved family time to make decisions. Manymanymany people regret just having tossed things out, and these days one can even make good money selling things on ebay etc. that may not have personal sentimental value–best wishes for it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Must be such a relief that she has settled happily into her new home and that you now know she is safe. Clearing through the “stuff” is such a hard job, but you simply can’t keep it all. I let the family choose the things that were significant to them, moved a few special items into Dad’s room so he still had a little bit of “home” then either sold or chucked the rest.

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    • I am indeed so relieved Lesley- it’s been quite the roller coaster. And thank you for sharing your experience about the ‘stuff’; part of me wants to just let it all go, and then the sentimental clinger in me rises up in protest!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Trace-Blogs says

    This is such good news! So happy for you and your mum. As for the “stuff”, I kept my son’s paintings and old toys etc in boxes for 15 years. Then, I started listening to The Minimalists podcast. It’s not the actual thing you are holding onto in your heart, it’s the memories. I took photos of all my son’s paintings and toys and made a photo-book. No more stuff, just memories. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Trace- I appreciate you sharing my good news 🙂
      Yes, I saw that film, and it’s definitely affected how I see ‘stuff’; some of my memories with my Mum are kinda sad/difficult, so some ‘stuff’ I’d be happy to see the back of… it’s going to be an interesting navigation, and I really like your photo-book idea, as that would be good for Mum too

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  4. Five summers ago, my wife Nell sold her mother’s Washington DC townhouse of more than four decades in order to move her to a superb retirement campus much closer to us in Brookline. She does not have dementia, but she is 80 and suffered a brain injury (memory and though-word censoring) in a car accident nearly 30 years ago. The (mostly affectionate) technical terms we use to describe her condition include “loop-de-loo” and “wafting.”

    So thank your for sharing your mother’s saga, despite our shared stricture on blog negativity (a stricture to which I wish other bloggers would adhere).

    I am glad she is comfortable in her new environs–the simple act of letting go is often profoundly liberating.

    As for the stuff…oh the stuff…if asked, my advice would be not to tackle it alone if possible. Find someone objective to help sort the gold from the dross (or the wheat from the chaff, or the pearls from the swine, or something), because those decision get very emotional very quickly.

    And you may have ongoing nightmares about paper…

    When in doubt, however, I always hear my late mother’s voice as she looked askance at the stuff I would move from place to place:

    “Throw it out!” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brilliant comment Matt, thank you 😃
      I love your sharings, & so appreciate your experiences. I did try to do some ‘sorting’ while I was over there in August; if in a ruthless state of mind, I can throw a lot of stuff out… but she has SO MANY BOOKS (an ex-librarian), plus mountains of paper…
      😐
      Thank you for contributing as always 😊🙏🏼

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so happy . I’m really hoping when that time approaches for me, or a little before , that I choose a nice place to move to . I’d love to have people around and to do puzzles and play the piano and have someone take care of all the stuff !

    So happy your mom’s finding happiness and friends !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cathy- yes, I am absolutely resolved that I will move myself into a ‘group home living’ situation before I actually NEED it, so that my son doesn’t go through the stress we all just went through, and so that I can have FUN 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • One of our client did that. She went for respite after a stint in hospital and she loved it so much she decided to stay there.
        No housework. Meals cooked. Company. Activities. They had a bus that took residents out shopping etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That IS a very good question. Kondo, of the Japanese Art of Tidying Up, recommends (more like commanding, though respectfully) purging. She says all those mementos served their seasons, did what they were meant to in their time, and we need to let go to be able to move forward. A lot easier said than otherwise when it comes to our loved ones’ belongings. All that history…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm, that’s a good attitude- I can relate to that concept- Mum’s history is certainly not mine in many areas- I don’t need all her books about film stars or cats for example- I’m a little attached to her jewellery though… but would I wear it? Probably not. Maybe I’d be better off selling it and donating the money to her favourite animal charity? Ongoing discussions needed! Thank you for your very helpful comment and reference though 🙂 G

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  7. That’s great news, although hard for your Mum at the beginning. Like others have said about moving her, I reckon, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’, she’s happy where she is, and do you (and your other decision-making rellies) want to put another bunch of carers through the tantrum stage, for what purpose. Who would it serve?
    As for being a ‘downer blogger’ … BALDERDASH!!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Widds- yes, it’s a bit tricky now as to whether we should move her again- in Wales, her sister could visit her every week though, rather than only once or twice a year if she stays in Devon, that’s the biggest consideration. But yes, she’s certainly settled in now, and is having a fine old time 🙂

      I know I’m not really a downer blogger- I did feel like I was just doing a lot of complaining at one point though (& I can’t balance it out with all the fun/happy/cute/hot romance stuff because I’ve been silenced by the woman in question- suffice to say it’s all FAB *smirks n flutters eyelashes) xO

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s great news although as you say, it leaves you with some questions to answer and perhaps another flight to Old Blighty? I think she and you would want her stuff packed up and sorted – perhaps for a sale, or perhaps for peace of mind. That’s my guess anyway. As for the staff keeping an eye on your feisty mum and her new bf – aren’t ‘old’ people allowed to be sexual beings in residential care? This is not as silly a question as it may seem. Surely we all have the right to sexual expression and what’s the harm in it? It could bring great happiness and contentment to the people concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I so don’t want to get on a plane again… still working out what to do re her stuff.

      And the situation is slightly complicated re the man: he’s actually married, and his wife comes to visit him every week, but he can’t really remember her… so awful! And complex. But yes, of course old people should be sexual- I hope I am!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It is hard to find company you like at any stage in life and probably never more challenging when you are over 70. You wish to be treated with respect, but you are actually very child like and that is a major social challenge – a.k.a teenager issues 🙂 So it is fantastic that she has found great company in the home she is at.

    On the family memorabilia, throw away anything that is junk and keep everything that has a meaningful collection to your past. Anything in between can be either saved, sold or given away based on the material value – that would be my suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for such pertinent advice; I must admit I’m delighted of course that she has found some special company, tricky though it may be for some.

      Clearing out her flat will be a challenge; she did love to collect ‘stuff’; it’s an interesting lesson in letting go of physical items while retaining the emotional memory…

      I appreciate your thoughtful comment very much 🙂 G

      Liked by 1 person

  10. That’s a heavy load to have been quietly contending with, but so happy for you to read that it’s turning out unexpectedly well. Naughty Mum! I love the idea of a photo book, may pinch that myself for some stuff I’m having a hard time of letting go. Objects do hold so much sentimental value, but it’s easier to let go when you think of them as having given their money’s worth in use or pleasure. And for someone new to have the use or pleasure from those books/clothes/ornaments is a wonderful gift.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Go naughty Mum hey?
      Yes, I do like the idea of the photo book, then passing the objects on to others- we have so much ‘stuff’ already don’t we? Thank you for commenting x

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Gabrielle, I am so happy for you! What great news. Your mum is certainly a vital and full of life woman, isn’t she? ❤ She seems special and I bet you're relieved about her finding this place.

    I hear you on your exploration about her and your belongings and memories. Sending blessings your way as you investigate the answers inside of you. Lots of love to you both — Debbie

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