Even though I blogged about it before, it is impossible to really describe just how hard it was to get Mum into a care facility. Not a day went by that I wasn’t on the phone, harassing anyone who had anything to do with getting her into a facility where she needed to be. At one point, after she had been on “emergency” status for quite a while, which basically means they are waiting for someone to die, sad as that is, I managed to get through to the actual guy in charge of assigning spots. After a lengthy conversation about Mum, he finally said to me that he had three hundred and fifty people on the “emergency” list and far too few facilities to put them in. He asked me what I would do in his situation? I understood his dilemma.

Even with this hopeless situation I continued to push and push, and finally got her in where she belonged. I hated the “lock-down” nature of the place, but I understood why and Mum needed this so she couldn’t wander off. She also needed the type of constant, professional care they provided. I hoped that she would get a room and make friends and, above all, finally be happy.

The care staff were great. They knew the guilt I was going through and they called me to keep me posted on how she was doing. They had miraculously got her into a shared room a couple of days after I brought her in, which was a huge relief for me. They said she had made a few friends and was participating in the activities offered. She was eating again and doing really good, they said. The anvil was off my shoulder and I looked forward to being able to visit her, hard as that would be.

It all fell apart when my sister visited her on the week-end. Because she had been in denial so long about Mum’s condition, she hated the idea of Mum being confined to this place. They weren’t going to be letting Mum out to go gambling because she was their responsibility now and they had to do what they had to do to keep her there. I also knew that if they took her out for even a few hours she would refuse to go back. My sister would never be able to handle that.

Regardless of the dangers of taking her out, my sister said they would take her to Revelstoke and care for her, which I knew clearly they could not. I told them how brutal it was to get her in there and if they took her out she would lose her spot and go right back to the bottom of the list. I told them to tell the facility that they were just taking her for a few days and would bring her back. The staff called me and told me they disagreed strongly with any plan to take her out, regardless of the reasons. My sister refused to listen and she took her out, along with all of her things that I had brought.

They came to the house and took all her furniture, her clothes, her TV and whatever they needed for her room in the new assisted living facility they had put her in in Revelstoke. “Assisted” living? There was no way Mum was going to survive in this type of facility. It’s for people who still have their wits about them and are functional. They only had a nurse one day a week, which was not good enough for Mum. I also researched the facility and found out it was for sale, something my sister didn’t know. The listing showed that the residents could “easily” be relocated elsewhere. Seriously? I knew that was a lie.

No sooner had Mum landed at the new place than my sister called, all upset because Mum was calling her all day at work. I could not believe she had given Mum her phone number and told her that Mum was calling over and over because she didn’t remember ever calling. My sister said she couldn’t take it. Welcome to my world! Then my Mum was found wandering around the streets of Revelstoke asking anyone and everyone where she was? Luckily Revelstoke is a small town and someone knew my sister, so they took Mum to Wendy’s work.

Then the staff started complaining because Mum would holler down at them that she couldn’t change channels on the TV. They would come up and find she was trying to change channels with the phone. Then, naturally, she would holler down that she couldn’t call Wendy and she would be using the TV remote to try to call. They weren’t equipped to handle Mum’s needs or condition and wanted her out. My sister soon learned what I had been going through for months because I had also included Revelstoke when trying to get her into a care facility. There was nothing available, which my sister soon learned. Wendy said she had taken Mum to her place hoping she could live with them, but she soon discovered the nightmare I had been living through trying to care for Mum.

Her husband, Ron, called me and, first, apologized that they had never really understood what I had really been going through, which was nice to hear. He then said Wendy was going to have a nervous breakdown trying to deal with Mum. I always liked Ron, but I had to be hard and tell him that the moment they took Mum out of the place in Kelowna, they assumed responsibility for her. There was nothing I could do to undo the damage they had done. Mum ended up in the hospital simply because there was nowhere else for her to go.

It only got worse from there. If my sister had taken the time to watch the video my Dad wanted her to, she would have known that the biggest thing people with Alzheimer’s can’t deal with is change. They have a hard enough time trying to remember where they are even if they have been somewhere for years, but the moving around from the assisted living place to Wendy’s to the hospital really took its toll on Mum. Her cancer returned but they weren’t going to operate on her because she was too old and frail to survive the surgery.

We went up to Revelstoke for Mother’s Day and it was so tragic. I hardly recognized my own mother. She had lost a huge amount of weight and was just this huge head on a little frail body. She shuffled along in baby steps and it was clear she had no clue where she was or what was going on. To this day I’m not sure she even recognized me. I sat beside her at lunch and she kept asking me who everybody was, including my sister, and where she was. She asked me over and over if we could go home now, meaning Westbank, which had been sold long ago. I knew this was the last time I would ever see my mother because my sister was killing her. I also knew it would be the last time I would see my sister because of what she had done.

Over the next few months it only got worse. I was still my Dad’s Executor and had to account for every penny of my mother’s money, which I did, to the penny. I had been transferring Mum’s pension to an account in Revelstoke that Wendy had access to if Mum needed anything. I made it clear to her that I needed a complete accounting of how she used the money. Instead, after months of hounding her for an accounting, she said she had to have her accountant sort it out because they had been paying their mortgage with Mum’s money! As Executor I was horrified! I had my lawyer send her a demand letter for the accounting. Instead what I got was a fistful of receipts and no accounting of anything.

Mum eventually died in October of 2007, a shadow of her former self. I was so angry at my sister that I couldn’t bring myself to go to Mum’s service. I knew I would just lose it on my sister for what she had done to kill my mother. It broke my heart not to go to my own mother’s funeral, but I had no choice. My niece called and left a message reaming me out for not going, but she had no idea of the history of what her Mum had done. This was the last time I had anything to do with any of them. I knew no one would understand why I couldn’t be there, but it was a whole lot better than me blowing up at my sister at the service.