Hard Choices

A week after my mother got officially diagnosed with early stage dementia she got a notice from the California DMV that her license had been revoked. She was blindsided and devastated as she was a fiercely independent woman. The Neurologist that had seen her had contacted the DMV because of her concerns over Irma driving.

I did not disagree with the decision but I think it could have been handled better by the neurologist. She could have told us what she was doing and we could have prepared my mother for it.

She called crying and was devastated that she had lost the ability to drive legally. Fortunately at the time she did not have the car in her possession, I had arranged for an old friend to pick up the car and take it to a mechanic to fix some issues with it. We decided once the car was gone through and repaired that we would sell the car.

My mother kept asking when she would get her car back and I had to remind her that even when she got it back she would not be able to drive it. She would forget due to the dementia and we would continue to remind her of this and asked her if it was ok to sell it as we would not make the decision without her consent. We reiterated to her that she could no longer drive and that it would make sense to sell it. She agreed and once we got the car back we were able to sell it to one of her close friends. We put the money in her now growing bank account. It was nice to see that her finances were stabilizing!

The challenge at this point was convincing her to use the ride share services provided for seniors in her area. We needed to make sure that she could go to the grocery store and be able to go to any doctors appointments without relying on friends or family. We did manage to get groceries delivered to her but also wanted to make sure that she had contact with friends as she was a very social person.

On our next trip to visit her we had planned to visit a senior community in San Diego where one of my mothers friends lived. It was St. Paul’s Senior Manor which offers independent living, assisted living and personal care, memory care, medical oversight, and life enrichment. We visited it and we were really impressed with the services provided (3 meals a day, wellness checks, many activities and outings, shuttle services) at an affordable price for the independent living option. We looked at an apartment just a few doors down the hall from my mother’s friend. We were excited at the possibility of her moving there. We got an application and filled it out.

The next step in the process was an interview with Irma to assess her and make sure that she would qualify for the independent living option. We were worried that due to her early stages of dementia would disqualify her from living in the independent living section of the facility. She nor Miguel and I could afford the assisted living option. When Irma had initially retired she had gotten both long and short term care options that would have covered the cost. Unfortunately at some point she could no longer afford these options as she was giving all of her money to Sam and cancelled them. After talking to the director of St. Paul’s to schedule my mothers interview and telling her what was going on with Sam and Christina and the Financial Abuse, she decided that she probably would not accept my mother to the facility. Her reasons were that a she had to have a family member nearby that could be relied upon and trusted. I wasn’t happy about it but I also understood her reasoning. We continued to search for alternatives for her. She lived in an apartment on the second floor of a complex and we worried about her going up and down the stairs. We had put in a request to move her to a first floor apartment when one opened up.

Next, the beginning of the end…



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