A Pete Update: The Next Step

Clare Kelly-Design Crush

PHOTO: Clare Kelly


Last Monday the inevitable happened, we moved Pete into a memory care facility.

It’s only a few minutes from my house which is nice, and the building itself is just a few years old. From the outside it’s pastel and cheery, and once you walk through the front doors rather welcoming. Hardwood floors throughout, a smiling staff, and only about thirty residents. It has all the conveniences of home without the physical obstacles Pete had to face every day living with my mom and stepdad – stairs, high bathtub edges, etc. They also have a fantastic security system that keeps the residents from wandering out, a major risk for anyone living with memory issues.

My mom and I wrote Pete’s name in his clothes last Saturday and dropped them off along with some of his belongings. Thankfully this place is fully furnished, including bedding, which made the physical move much easier. Then my stepdad took Pete on Monday. We had all prepared ourselves for the worst, but so far the transition has gone smoother than anyone could have hoped! (I think this probably has a little to do with the fact that Pete believed he had only been at my mom and stepdad’s for a few weeks, and most definitely did not believe he lived with them.) We were asked to refrain from visiting for a few weeks so that he could get into some sort of routine, so no one has visited just yet. I’ll be the first tomorrow and I’m looking forward to seeing how he functions in his new home and giving him a huge hug.

After living with my mom and stepdad for the past 15 months, we believe this is the best move for everyone. Pete now has the chance to interact with more people on a daily basis, participate in small activities, and regain a little bit of his independence. Meanwhile, my mom and stepdad can get back to a more normal way of life as well. They both agree that the house already feels lighter and their relationship less strained. While it’s an incredibly selfless gesture to care for a loved one, I think it’s important to think about how the situation is effecting you as well. And that’s something I reminded the both of them of every few months when things felt extra high strung.

Thank you all so much for checking up on Pete via email, tweets, and in person. It means so much to me and made a difficult situation a little more bearable.

Past posts chronicling Pete’s journey:
Life Lately
3 Months In
6 Months
9 Months

  • rooth

    April 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing this update as well as the thought process that your mom and stepdad went through before placing him in this facility. It’s a tough thing taking care of someone, as you’ve explained in the past, but it’s an even tougher thing letting someone else do it

  • Addie

    April 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm Reply

    Thank you for keeping us updated… I find myself wondering every now and then how Pete and your family is doing. This sounds like a great arrangement for everyone. Big hugs!

  • Mom

    April 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm Reply

    Thank you dear child for writing such an eloquent update on Pete. Your words describe all of our feelings and emotions perfectly. This piece is a beautiful tribute to this wonderful man the three of us love so dearly.

  • Jen

    April 3, 2013 at 9:22 pm Reply

    Hi, I am pretty new to your blog so I don’t know about Pete’s story. Do you have a link to previous posts (I tried to search quickly but could not find). But I used to work (in social services/social work) with those who had memory loss/dementia/Alzheimer’s and I know how difficult it can be on the family caregivers as well.

    • Kelly

      April 4, 2013 at 9:16 am Reply

      Jen, thanks for pointing that out! I’ve updated the post with past links about Pete.

  • karey m.

    April 3, 2013 at 11:37 pm Reply

    you’re just the loveliest. what you and your family have done has not only been emotionally tragic and i can’t even imagine how difficult…it’s just the definition of love, to me.

  • Jenne

    April 4, 2013 at 1:01 am Reply

    Funny—I have been following Pete’s saga as my own father’s dementia has unspooled. He lived with us for four months, but a few weeks ago also went into memory care. He called me again today demanding to be let out, insistent that he could care for himself and had never fallen, never been in the hospital or wandered off. Like Pete, he had no idea that he’d lived with me and my family. He’s just angry with me now.

    • Kelly

      April 4, 2013 at 9:23 am Reply

      Unfortunately, that happens a lot of the time I’m told. Pete has always been a pretty laid back, passive guy but I’ve been at the other end of his anger a few times since Alzheimer’s has taken over his mind and it’s not fun. It can be tough to remember that it’s the disease talking when it’s making a difficult situation worse. Hang in there.

  • dianna

    April 4, 2013 at 11:05 am Reply

    I just came upon your blog via big bang studio, and reading your story about Pete — wow. So tender and sweet. I placed my father in a memory care facility 2.5 years ago. It was one of the hardest but best things I have ever done, for both of us. Knowing that he is safe, well-cared for, content and comfortable is a huge relief to me, and the best thing for him.

    Alzheimer’s is a painful journey for everyone touched by it. I bow to the sensitivity and love you and your family have shown to what sounds like a wonderful man.

  • Stephanie

    April 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing your Pete journey – and your family’s – with us.

  • Uncle Beefy

    April 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm Reply

    I’m not going to say anything more profound or lovely than many of the above comments, Miss Kelly. So I’m just sending you a huge amount of love and virtual HUGS. xo B

  • Caitlin T.

    April 7, 2013 at 8:52 am Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing an update. It’s nice to know how Pete is doing.

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