Note: In 2007, Jamie Wilson Headley (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.
These are the challenges that one woman faced, but although Jamie’s Journey is deeply personal, it is also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring someone with dementia.
After Mom and I had our mutual breakdown, I pulled myself together and apologized for shouting at her. I did my best to reassure her that I would make everything better. We talked for a while, and I asked her what she wanted to do. She said she didn’t know, but she did not want to stay there any longer.
I told her I agreed and that I would begin the search for a new “apartment” first thing in the morning.
The next day, I went online and asked around and found out there was a new facility opening up soon that had memory care. I scheduled an appointment that day to talk with the marketing director. The interior of the facility was not finished yet, but the exterior was very nice, and it was even 10 minutes closer to my house, which was a big bonus. The models of the apartments were spacious and since they were not full yet we would have our choice of apartments. They also offered two different types of memory care – one floor for mild-to-moderate and one for more advanced impairment. This was wonderful news! I knew Mom needed more care, but I also knew she would be miserable if she was around severely impaired people, or the “crazies” as she called them. The mild-to-moderate option sounded perfect.
After the appointment I was so excited I went straight over to see Mom. She was just as excited when I told her that she could walk to a few shops that were right next to the building and that she would be in a more modern building, and there would be more going on. She was thrilled at the idea of being able to hear and see traffic. She said she loved her view of the pond, but deep down she was a city girl, and she missed the sound of traffic. I called the marketing director back and asked if I could bring Mom right over to see the models. We drove past the building first so she could see the proximity to shopping and “real life” as she called it, and she was sold. So we picked an apartment and put down a deposit that day. When I took her back home, I let the ED know she would be moving out in 2 months. We were all thrilled.
At that point, Mom was aware her memory was failing so she didn’t get bent out of shape that she would be on a memory care floor. She could have a nice apartment, she could walk to shops, and she would have her kitten. For the first time in what seemed like a long time, we had something to look forward to. Now I just had to get her through the next 8 weeks.