Moving My Healthy Husband into Alzheimer’s Care

Guest Post from Bonnie Gurney

A few weeks ago Steve came home and said that his next retirement immersion project was going to be in an Alzheimer’s center and that I would probably be part of the “moving in process” this time.  I was excited to see what my part of the project would be like. I learned that I was to attend a meeting on Monday afternoon to fill out paper work. If he really was moving to this center he would not be checking in himself so  I would be the one registering him to Arden Courts of Annandale. In addition I would attend a small, one-hour family meeting on Tuesday evening.

I arrived on Monday for my first meeting and was surprised when I had to be buzzed into the reception area.  I’ve visited other assisted living facilities throughout my adult life but I’ve always been able to walk into the reception area.  My meeting was with Joel the director and Mabel the marketing manager.  They informed me that I had missed the biggest decision in the process which was the tour and deciding that Arden Courts was the place where I wanted to Steve to live.  I was now at stage two where I was to fill out the paper work and pay for the room.  I spent a little over an hour filling out the forms and discussing what would be happening next.   I learned that in a week I’d be bringing Steve in at 11:00 am for activities and lunch at Arden Courts.  Either Joel or Mabel would be in the reception area ready to greet Steve.  What I found interesting is they don’t “welcome” Steve to his new home but they will be “greeting him as though they have been waiting for his arrival”.  It reminded me of how I would greet one of the kid’s friends when they arrived for a play date if they had never been to the house and I was trying to make coming into the house fun and excited, not scary.

Another interesting part in the registration process was me filling out the biography forms about Steve.   Aas someone who has been lucky and never had to live through the experience of knowing someone with Alzheimer’s I was surprised…I had just never thought about it before.  The only way the staff could know about Steve was by a family member giving the information.  The questions were really good and I wish I had more room on the form to fill out Steve’s interests.  I did cheat a bit and actually talked with Steve a bit about his favorite foods, childhood memories, or vacations.  Steve and I went down memory lane for a bit which was fun.  I will say I felt pretty good that I knew almost everything…I had forgotten about our fun ski trips to Canada before the kids were born.

Family Orientation Meeting – My second meeting on Tuesday evening was a new family orientation at Arden Courts of Annandale in preparation for Steve’s entrance into their Alzheimer’s facility. I was a little nervous going to a meeting where my family member was not really entering the facility with this disability because I didn’t know if I would be able to join in the conversation.  While I didn’t really have many questions the other people attending the meeting had many great questions and I learned and really saw what families are going through while dealing with this type of decision. The staff gave a wonderful overview of what the family and new resident would be going through during their arrival and first week.  The discussion also included the food and the programmed activities the residents are offered in their new home. This one-hour session turned into a two-hour session.

Besides the staff members the family meeting had three family members that currently had their wife or mother living at Arden Courts.  All three family members were very interested in helping me and the other people attending the meeting understand what they would be feeling during this transition period.  They discussed what made them finally make the decision to have their family members enter Arden Courts and how they handled the initial weeks.  It was enlightening and a great idea of Arden Courts to have this “support group” for the newbie’s.

The entire experience was eye opening and heart wrenching at the same time.  I was really struck by how the current family members were really there to help the new families.

Now I’m just waiting for Tuesday at 11:00 am to find out how Steve’s move-in will go.

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