March 15, 2015
It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. I have been thinking about how to talk with you or how to write you my concerns. In the many conversations that we’ve had over the years, we have always been able to be frank and honest. You have said numerous times that I am too honest when I tell people things they don’t want to hear. However, I learned honesty from you. You have said our whole lives, “be truthful. It’s important to be honest.” Sometimes the truth hurts, to hear it and to say it. But when it’s the truth, we have to learn to accept it.
As a young adult, I can remember you talking about this person or that person, your mother, your friend, and saying to us, “I hope I don’t get that way! I hope you girls will tell me when I say or do something that isn’t right, or if something is off about my appearance?” We assured you that we would.
In Dad’s last days, he wondered if you would be able to live alone. We wondered too. With Tamie and Mik’s occasional help, you have been able to remain in your wonderful lake home and be relatively independent. It’s hard to believe that 10 years has passed. However, these past five years we have seen a slow progression of your abilities and personality. The past two years, even more difficulties. We have been gently trying to tell you here and there, that dementia is changing you. You are not like you use to be. This is not something that is easy to say to a loved one and I am so sad to hurt your feelings.
Over a year ago, your doctor indicated that you should not be living alone. We know this upset you, but she was being truthful. Her concern was your safety. Tamie and I decided that we would see how it goes, take it month by month. You are a strong and determined woman and we love you dearly. But the truth is, because of your dementia, it is not good for you to be living alone any longer. The truth is, it is time for you to live where you have some assistance with your daily activities. We know that you can meet this challenge, just like the changes you had to accept when Dad, Brenna and Ken died. You can get thru this transition also.
Leaving your lake home, I suppose is like a death. It’s leaving/losing something that is familiar, that is beautiful, that brings comfort, that holds many memories, that brings warmth, it feels like where you belong. It’s home. We feel that way too and we know that it is even harder for you. As you know, with every ending there is a new beginning. After some time of adjustment, we think your new place will begin to feel like home.
Tamie and I have been patient the past two years, hoping you wouldn’t seriously hurt yourself. While we were unsure of your ability to live alone, we have now reached the point of certainty. All of us who love you, want you to move into assisted living as soon as possible. We hope that you will trust our judgment, voluntarily go and not put us in the position of forcing you to move. None of us want unpleasant memories. I have a big lump in my throat, tears in my eyes as I am writing this. Please don’t make us force you to move. Please don’t be mad at us for being the loving daughters that you raised us to be. We are only watching out for you and your safety.
Will you choose to go to assisted living as soon as space is available?
With much love,
dr pers © 2016
Note: I live a thousand miles away from Mom. I wrote this letter in case my sister needed support, to convince our mom to move. My sister had taken mom two different times, to several facilities and she indicated which was her first choice. However, Mom kept talking about “IF she moved.”
When an apartment became available at the facility of mom’s first choice, my sister made a deposit. She waited till I came from out of state, and together, we informed mom that she was moving in two months. The above letter was not needed and not given to mom.
She moved in August, 2015 and died December 2016. She was a wonderful mother and role model.