On a visit to Los Angeles to see her son, Jacob, Barbara decided she’d enjoy living in that warm, sunny climate and seeing her grandchildren more often. Jacob showed her a lovely retirement community not far from his home, and she signed up. So far so good.
But that’s when the trouble started.
As soon as Barbara got back to Seattle, she wanted to start packing right away. However, with her memory issues, it didn’t go well.
She emptied the closets and piled things all over her bed, thinking she was doing a good job of packing in Seattle. Her current retirement community had to clear off the bed so she could sleep in it. The next day, Barbara emptied her book shelves and created teetering piles of slippery books, believing she was doing a good job of packing in Seattle. The staff had to clear the walkways to try to keep her safe. The third day, she emptied her dresser drawers, still believing that she was effectively packing.
Everyone tried to convince Barbara not to pack, “Just wait a week, and your son can pack for you.”
“No, I’ve moved a dozen times. I can do this. I don’t need someone else doing my work for me.”
Barbara had such good intentions, but wasn’t capable of making reasonable choices. Worse, she wasn’t able to perceive that she was making things more difficult.
No one could get her to stop and to wait for her son to help. She made piles of papers mixed with dishes and clothing. She was determined to get packed up in Seattle, and the situation became increasingly dangerous.
No one wanted to tell Barbara she was incompetent. But even if they had said that and been able to convince her, she wouldn’t have remembered the conversation for longer than five minutes. She’d have had her feelings hurt (and even with dementia the feelings can last a long time), but she’d still be packing in Seattle.
It was a crisis. Jacob called Moving Forward for help.
We jumped into action, procured a moving company and rearranged our schedule to accommodate the emergency. Barbara’s daughter-in-law flew to Seattle to care for Barbara and keep her out of the apartment while Moving Forward got to work on the packing in Seattle. We had one day before the movers arrived. It took three of us ten hours to get that whole apartment untangled and packed.
It was a long, arduous experience, but worth it. We were glad we could help.