A productive trip to Ohio

For the past week, I’ve been in Ohio visiting my parents! My mom has very quickly been developing dementia, so I went to help out with some doctors’ appointments. I also made us several appointments to visit memory care facilities.

Of course some of you might remember what happened last time I flew with my Whill wheelchair—it arrived with the seat completely missing and one wheel sheared off. So to prevent that from happening, this time I really labeled my wheelchair well. I put green masking tape saying “LIFT HERE” on the lift points, and put red masking tape with “DO NOT LIFT” on the armrests. I also as usual taped a sign to the seat explaining how to work my wheelchair and asking that it please be treated nicely. Here is a picture of my efforts.

Luckily the plane ride there was pretty uneventful. I even had an empty seat next to me, yay! Felix was a champ, and handled flying super well. He did shake his head, paw at his ears, and lick the air some, so I think his ears were popping. Here is a selfie of him sleepy on my chest in the plane.

First up, my dad had a colonoscopy. Unfortunately he wasn’t cleaned out enough, so it didn’t happen after all.

The next day, we visited the first memory care facility. My parents had previously visited one and been appalled at it. They thought it seemed like an absolutely terrible place to live. So my dad was thinking memory care was not a possibility at all, even though it is desperately needed.

When we walked into this place, it was amazing—so clean, and nice, and everyone was so friendly! Many residents stopped to say hello! We visited the memory care floor, and several residents talked with us, and the facility was so homey and inviting. We toured their one empty studio apartment on the floor of 15 apartments. Normally they don’t have any vacancy, so we were lucky to be able to see it.

It was such an amazing facility that as soon as we left the building and walked outside, my dad said he thought that was the place. He tried to ask mom if she wanted to live there, but he started crying! I’ve never seen him cry before in my life. So I asked mom. She said she thought it was a good idea. So we went right back in and put a deposit down! Below are pictures of my parents in the waiting area, and of the memory care floor and room. Not pictured are the dining area and garden area, as there were people in those places so I couldn’t take any pictures.

The next morning, my mom had a neurologist appointment where she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Disease. That’s why the progression is so rapid, because she has two types of dementia.

For lunch, we went back to the memory care unit to try their food. When we arrived, we asked mom if she knew where she was, and she said “I’m home”. We had a fantastic lunch!

The next day, we visited two more memory care facilities. One was terrible! It had a horrible smell to it of cleaning products. They were serving lunch while we were there, and you couldn’t even smell the food due to the cleaning products. We thought maybe they had just mopped, but the smell didn’t dissipate the entire hour we were there. Also, no residents interacted with us at all unless directly instructed to by the staff (even in assisted living, not just memory care!).

The only good thing about that place was they had a pet duck for the floor, and Felix did such a good job meeting it!

The last place we saw was very nice, and cheaper than the first place! The residents weren’t as interactive as the first place, but my dad and I preferred it to the first place. But when we left, we asked mom what she thought about it, and she called it a hotel. We asked if she wanted to live there, and she said no, it was a hotel. She wanted to live at the first place. That settled it!

Felix did such an excellent job at all of the assisted living and memory care places. I let everyone who asked pet him. He lapped up the attention and was so calm and patient with everyone!

The rest of the time there, I mostly hung out with and watched over my mom. We went out to eat at a few restaurants, and we went to Graeter’s (local famous ice cream) twice—just ask in the comments if you want to hear the details on the awesome sundaes I had! Felix was really good! He was perfect at all the indoor establishments. At the outdoor ones, he was trying to eat crumbs for about 5 minutes before he settled down.

Ohio was great about service dog access! A few times people did say no dogs, but once I said he was a service dog, they all changed their tunes right away and were great about it.

The only real downside to my visit was seeing how much worse my mom is. When we were coming home from visiting the third memory care facility, she asked me what my name was. I told her, and asked her who she thought I was. She said she thought I was her daughter Vanessa’s friend. Vanessa is my younger sister. Most of the rest of the time we were there, she called me Vanessa. She already forgot who my dad is a month ago, so it was expected.

I got a few pictures of my parents, me, and Felix.

My mom and dad don’t like dogs, so I was really surprised when my mom took a strong liking to Felix! She kept talking to him and petting him. When we were in the car, she’d hold his little paw! So there are two pictures of my mom and Felix interacting.

The other pictures show my parents and me at various restaurant patios and at home.

Yesterday I flew back home. Felix was such a champ again! I got a couple of pictures of him at the gate, and one on the plane. Unfortunately on our flight back, we were seated next to a stocky man and airline seats aren’t very accommodating, so it was pretty uncomfortable. But Felix was so good.

Overall, it was a very productive trip! I was able to help my parents with several things, including setting up my mom’s phone so that she’s safe from potential scams. And after I left on Monday, my mom had her assessment for the facility and will be moving in as soon as her bed is able to be delivered!

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