From as early as I can remember, growing up, my grandma Mary lived with us. I actually can't think of a time she didn't live in our Scottsdale, Az home. In our younger years, she was my sister and I caregiver, friend, and grandma. She went to our sporting events, took us to the mall, and made frequent trips to McDonald's for sundaes. As we grew up, she watched us mature, and age and we did the same with her. However, her changes were much more subtle. Over two decades, she slowly began to do less on her own. It started with her balance, eyesight and moved to her memory. As she entered her 70s, she began to have more balance issues and took a few falls. After being released from the hospital, she moved into an assisted living facility in Scottsdale, just down the street from where we lived. We'd visit her, but she didn't seem the same. She was more grumpy than usual and was losing weight. Sometimes we'd go there, and she wouldn't remember who we were. After a month, she was able to return home. My dad, mom, siblings, and I all helped to take care of my grandma as she once did for us. I knew my dad was stressed at times, but he just wanted the best for his mom. At 78 years old, my grandma's dementia had progressed significantly. Her health quickly declined, and our family was left to care for her physically and emotionally in a way we never had to before. The last few months were tough, eventually she passed in the middle of the night in her home.
It was about ten years after her passing that my dad ventured into the world of assisted living. He loved the idea of having a home that felt like home for people who needed assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, eating). Maybe if we had found a place like Bella Vita for my grandma, we would have felt more comfortable having her live down the street in a home instead of the large facility she was sent to after her hospital stays.