I started the moving process when my then 82 year old mother was in the hospital suffering from depression. Because she assigned the power of attorney for financial and health to me while she was still of sound mind, I was able to proceed without any complications.
Because my mother is Polish, I decided that the best place for her would be somewhere she could best communicate with the staff and residents. Although she had lived in Canada for almost 50 years, she felt more comfortable speaking her native language and for that reason I chose only to look at Polish retirement homes. Although it was over 60 kms away and almost an hours drive from my home, I chose Wawel Villa. I first went on my own to see if I felt comfortable with the home.
Many factors influenced by decision. Everyone spoke English and fluent Polish. I wanted to make sure that not only would my mother understand everyone, but that they would understand her. I knew she would not want to share a bathroom, and every room at this facility has its own private bathroom and large closet. It came furnished, so all we had to bring is her clothes and some personal belongings. There were group activities to keep her mind and body active. There was a hairdresser on the premises, and a volunteer who would give her a manicure. There was a chapel for Sunday mass. It was staffed with nurses 24 hours a day. It was located on a residential street, in a quiet setting, away from traffic, with her room facing the ravine. I found that it was better to spend more time in traffic to see her than have her live in a place that she did not feel comfortable in.
After I decided this was the best place for her, I brought my mother and her best friend to visit. I thought it was important to have someone other than family to come along – she would trust her friend’s opinion. Being able to speak Polish with everyone she met that day made her feel at ease and she agreed that day that this would be her new home.
My mother was still staying at the hospital when I brought her to Wawel Villa for her initial visit. She never went back to her house. It was straight to the retirement home when she was released from the hospital. I knew the transition would be easier if she didn’t go back to her house. And I knew she could no longer live on her own. She was fine when she was released, but how long before the depression set in again. She would be back to the hospital, if she lived on her own.
Once the decision was made to move her to Wawel Villa, I started to clean out her house. I cancelled her cable and her land-line phone, and because her furnace was oil burning, I cancelled delivery of the oil. It was April, so I didn’t have to worry about heating a vacant house. Many older homes still have oil, so if the house is going to be demolished or converted to gas, the oil will have to burn out or somehow be removed from the tank. Hydro and water would be left on until the house sold.
I cleaned out her fridge and cupboards, so there was no food remaining. I sorted through her clothes and accessories. A lot was thrown out and anything that was not going to her new home was packed up and delivered to a women’s shelter. I asked the grandchildren if they wanted any of the furniture and furnishings before having a garage sale. I saved some of the dishes, glassware, towels. I brought a friend over to go through the house and take anything that no one else wanted. Everything left was part of the garage sale. As there was so much to get rid of, the garage sale was inside and I just made sure that there was nothing of value in the house for someone to steal during the sale.
The house didn’t take long to sell, but the buyer wanted the house completely empty. So, the day before the closing, I had a junk removal company take everything that was left. I should have done it sooner, but I kept thinking that someone might still want something.
The move into Wawel Villa went smoothly. All my mother’s stuff was moved in, days before she was released from the hospital. Everyone was very welcoming when we arrived. I made sure I had no other plans for that day so that I could spend as much time with mom on her first day. We had lunch and dinner together in the home’s dining room. We walked throughout the building making sure my mother knew where everything was. We also walked around the outside of the building so she could see the gardens and the outside of her room, located on the second floor, facing the ravine. Before moving her in, I set up a telephone account with Bell in her name, with the phone bill coming to my house. I bought her a corded phone with large large, easy to read buttons, including three speed dial buttons, which I preset with my home number, my cell number and my brother’s cell phone. I think a corded phone is the best because you always know where you put it and it will never die on you.
Since cable was included in the rent, I bought her a small television, which I put on the small bar fridge that I also bought. There was also a large screen tv in the lounge area which residents and visitors could watch. I also bought her a small outdoor bistro set (2 chairs and a table) This way, she could sit outside and enjoy the view. Unfortunately, there was a large tree close to her balcony which squirrels and the occasional raccoon would climb.
Looking back, I’m glad I chose this particular retirement home. My brother fought me on the location, saying she should be closer to one of us so we could visit more often. But I knew we wouldn’t be seeing her every day no matter where we placed her. It was more important to make sure that she was well taken taken care of and she was happy and with people she could relate to and communicate with!
Written by Irene Demerino