Diary on Becoming a Snowbird & Helping with Alzheimers suffering Stepdad

Being retired means redirecting one’s life.
With children and grandchildren most of my redirecting has focused on them. Now with aging parents, redirecting means helping them as much ad I can, while I can. I want to enjoy my mom as much ad I can while she is in good health and help her health remain strong while she is the primary care-taker for my stepdad whose has Alzheimers that is worsening significantly now. Pawpaw’s comment about Huntsville, “this has been a really nice visit. These people, I don’t even know, have been so nice to me!”

I met up with mom & Pawpaw in Huntsville AL where we joined my sister and brother for our holiday gathering. From there, we began Day 1 of our Florida trip headed South through Marianna, and thenTallahassee Florida for the first night. The pit stops along the way wrte mych easier on mom with me able to be with Pawpaw, direct him to and from the restroom while she gassed up the truck, paid and took care of herself. We stopped in Marianna FL at a Ruby Tuesday and had a nice dinner. I drove us onto the Candlewood Suites Tallahassee. It took the 3rd motel stop to find a non-smoking ground level room. Pawpaw, had a stroke 23 years ago and has trouble climbing stairs. Pawpaw was good during the trip today. He seems to know we are headed to their winter FL home.

In conversation Pawpaw got confused when mom said we were going to Sebring…. Of course he never has been there or heard the name of our 2011 snowbird town… So that he might not ever remember. We will be at Buttonwood Bay, Sebring beginning Monday.

Day 2, we slept late until about 9:30, ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel, got gas and then hit I-10 south to Fort Myers / Naples where the RV has been in storage all year. Just as we arrived in our Fort Myers motel room for the night Terri (Pawpaw’s eldest daughter) called!!! Perfect timing offering lasagna for supper! We had a great visit with them at their new condo at Coconut Pointe. Visiting with Terri Jeff and Kelsey – What a lucky surprise visit!! Pawpaw said, “hi little sister” to Terri. He thinks she is his sister Janet. When he went to bed he told mom “that woman with us thinks she’s my mother.”

Day 3 – Monday morning we had to be up early 7am, to get mom / Tom showered, eat our continental breakfast, and to arrive at the RV / camper by 8:15. Getting into the truck Pawpaw was worried about leaving his other companions behind. We explained about our Christmas gathering and all of departures but until he forgot, he worried. Meanwhile, we found the RV in good order, removed the humidity bags and moth balls, and were happy to find nothing had leaked water inside. We waited a short time for the RV man, he connected, and pulled the RV 90 miles on the road to Sebring. Temperature 66. After two days of driving in the pouring rain – NO Rain today! Highs today 74 and sunny. I’m just so proud to be here!

Driving inland Pawpaw talked about his other wife Wilma. Mom and I suspect he is remembering her with dark hair (just in the last few months she has stopped coloring it and allowing her now natural grey to show.) We think he is confused by the grey Wilma and dark-headed Wilma, thus two wives named Wilma. Of coursr, i am here, the younger version of mom, still somewhat dark hair and so there are two of us with him! We might find mom some color if this continues and see if that helps him.

Day 3 continued: We’re here, our final destination Buttonwood Bay. We traveled here with no issues. The RV man set everything up, leveled and connected all hook-ups for us! Pawpaw and I stayed in the truck out if everyone’s way. That is hard on Pawpaw, a southern gentleman who always wants to take care of others and a former Marine. He stayed put in the truck better than usual when I was there waiting with him. This made mom happy so she could easily move around doing her stuff. All seems to be well in our world. Sunny and bright skies, nice temperature in the 70s

Evening Day 3: we went to the grocery store and then once somewhat settled, we All went to bed at 8:00 pm!!! I actually took a sleep aid since I had been awake both nights on the road worrying about and helping Pawpaw to and from the bathroom.
Mom liked driving do she slept well and I kept an eye on Pawpaw who did not sleep well at all in the motels. I could tell he was uneasy, did not know where he was and just did not rest at all really.

Day 4 – All three of us slept well our first night in the familiar winter home-away-from-home. I say familiar, but not to Pawpaw. Mom explained their winter histories to him and we hope in a few days he will settle and feel at home.

Mom and I took our first walk today and we walked one whole hour! There is a nature trail but it is not a circle so we sort of saw more and walked more than we planned! Tomorrow we will plan a route before we go. Today’s exploration took us farther than we would have chosen on our first day. Mom groaned a bit. Surprisingly I feel fine right now – my soreness will come later.

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