Posts Tagged ‘memory care facility’

The Pros and Cons of Placing Your Loved One in a Facility

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Author’s Note: This post assumes there is a decent, affordable facility within a reasonable driving distance. It also assumes that the person with Alzheimer’s is in the mid- late-stages of the disease, and high quality caregiving at home is becoming increasingly more challenging if not impossible.

CONS

People living with Alzheimer’s typically want to remain in their own homes. They want to be in a familiar environment and close to their loved ones.

Family members are sometimes adamantly opposed to placing their loved one in a facility. Some view this almost as a criminal act. In many cases it’s even more difficult because if the person with Alzheimer’s staunchly objects, family member(s) may feel incredibly guilty.

In addition, the caregiver may have promised his or her loved one many years before to never put them in any kind of facility for any reason. Breaking that promise would be extraordinarily difficult. Again, if the caregiver decides to go ahead with placement he or she would probably end up riddled with guilt.

Caregivers may feel they can provide care that is superior to that delivered in a good facility, due to their love and devotion. Although personnel in a facility may indeed care about their residents, they will probably not have the depth of love that family members feel.

Finally, financial issues need to considered. There may be high quality facilities near you but you can’t afford them. In this case you may have no other option than caring for the person at home.

PROS

It takes a large team to care for people living with Alzheimer’s, especially those in the mid to later stages.  They need a doctor on call 24 hours a day. They need a nurse available at all times. They need aides, a social worker, activity professionals, cooks and laundresses.  And they need to be around other people for social stimulation. They need 24/7 supervision and they need to be in a safe, secure environment.

Providing for all of these needs can be done but it’s a full-time job. In many cases the primary caregiver has to work either full- or part-time and thus can’t provide the needed care.

The decision to place a loved one in a care facility can be agonizing, but caregivers need to consider the following: 1) Long-term care placement can be the most loving choice for their loved one and 2) Caring for the loved one is probably seriously affecting their own physical and mental health and wellbeing.  People simply can’t be good caregivers if they are exhausted and burned out all the time.

You may be hesitant because you think the person will never forgive you for placing them in a facility. Most people with mid- late stage Alzheimer’s, however, soon adjust and even forget they’ve been moved at all.

Deciding what to do can be nerve-wracking and heartbreaking, but it’s something you will probably need to do at some point. Take a step back and try to be objective. Consult with friends and other family members.  You may also want to talk with your attorney, spiritual leader and/or your physician and your loved one’s physician (if they are not the same).

Do any of you want to comment on how you arrived at your decision regarding this issue?

Is Alzheimer’s Always Depressing? I Think Not

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Alzheimer’s is considered a deadly serious disease and deservedly so. But I ask this: Does being ‘serious’ mean that it is horrible and depressing? Yes, it can be horrible and depressing. But is it always that way? I think not. I think to some extent at some times it depends on the attitude of the beholder. Let me illustrate with two hypothetical vignettes.

John is distraught when he visits his wife, Jean. First of all, he finds the facility per se depressing. While walking to his wife’s room, he passes several residents sitting in wheel chairs. Most are either staring into space or else their heads are hanging down and they appear to be dozing. What a waste of human life, he thinks.

Worse still is his wife’s condition. She can’t bathe or dress herself. She needs help eating. She carries a baby doll around with her everywhere she goes. She acts as though it’s a real baby. He has tried and tried to convince her it’s just a doll, and he’s tried to get her to give it up. All to no avail.

Jill is another regular visitor to the facility. Her mother, the past president of a major university, is in a wheel chair and can often be found playing Bingo, which she can’t play unless one of the aids helps her. Her mother’s other favorite activity is the sing-alongs held every Tuesday and Thursday. Most days she doesn’t even recognize Jill.

Jill’s reaction to the situation, however, is very different from that of John. Sometimes Jill arrives during the Bingo game and sits beside her mother as she’s playing. Instead of thinking how much her mother’s mental capacity has declined, she notes that her mother has a smile on her face. Jill is so happy that there are still things her mother enjoys.

Although her mother usually doesn’t recognize her, it’s obvious that she enjoys Jill’s visits. As far as the diapers her mother wears, Jill isn’t upset by them. There’s nothing inherently distressing about diapers. All babies wear them and that isn’t depressing to anyone.

To a great extent, our attitudes about long-term care facilities and people with dementia influence how we view them.

If we are in denial and try to insist that our love one talk and behave like a ‘normal’ person, we will be miserable every time we see the person.

If we focus on what our loved one can’t do rather than what they still can do, visiting will be painful. If we focus on comparing the person’s current mental state to their previous one, we will suffer.

If we think about our own unhappiness rather than on our loved one’s reaction to the same issue, we will never be able to accept the person’s illness. We will never be at peace with the situation.

Sometimes the best thing to do when something upsets us is to ask whether our loved one is upset by it. You may be distressed, for example, because the aids don’t style your mother’s hair very well. But ask yourself is my mother upset by it? If not, then let it go.

Jill enjoys her visits because she accepts her mother just as she is. She doesn’t try to change her. She interacts with her at her level – not her previous level.

No, Alzheimer’s doesn’t always have to be depressing all the time.

Would anyone like to share a positive experience with a loved one living with Alzheimer’s?

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Miss Daisy

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

“I’ve come to visit you, Miss. Daisy” I said in a perky tone of voice after introducing myself.

“Me?” she exclaimed – smiling, looking up at me, raising her eyebrows and putting her hand over her heart.

“Yes. You,” I answered, delighted by her excited reaction.

She had already won my heart. It was obvious she was thrilled to have me visit even if she had no earthly idea who I was.

Since retiring a few months ago, I’d decided to volunteer spending time with some local memory care facility residents who don’t have many visitors.

During our first visit I discovered her social skills are so good you’d think she’s volunteering to visit me!

During that first visit, I asked her, “What kind of music do you like?”

Without hesitation she blurted out, “classical!”

So for the next visit I wrapped up a CD of The Nutcracker Suite and gave it to her. She tore off the gift wrap and smiled real big when she saw what was inside.

But after a few minutes, her eyes became downcast, and she said “I’m sorry I don’t have anything to give you.”

To help her save face, I pointed out that she had some cookies on her table.

She laughed lightly and said, “Sure. Help yourself.”

When I soon asked if I could have another she said, “Take as many as you want.

They were some of the best cookies I ever tasted.

Then I put the disc into the slot of the portable CD player I’d brought along. It was immediately obvious that she was familiar with the selections. She smiled, moved in time to the music and used her hand to tap out the rhythms on her lap.

At the end of the visit she said, “I hope I see you again.”

“I’ll come visit you again next week.”

“Oh, that would be wonderful,” she said.

Then – as always – she insisted on walking with me to the front door. I moved beside her as she inched along ever so slowly, unsteadily pushing her walker down the short hallway. We shook hands then I left, feeling so happy that for that half hour at least, I had given her joy.