Mom has been living at the nursing home for a year and a half. What a struggle it was to make that decision. I know many readers and their families are struggling with the difficult decisions that surround caring for aging elders with dementia. The elder is facing issues with self isolation, depression and sadness, bewilderment and anger, safety. The caretaker is stretched to the breaking point and his or her own health and lifestyle are suffering. The family disagrees on who is to blame and what should be done.
Well, here we are a year and a half later and I would like update the group on our family's story. Our mother had reached the point where she no longer knew she home. She was very unhappy unless one of us was entertaining her. We did have outside help, as she could no longer be left alone. She had knee surgery, but she no longer walked very much. Still, she refused to use her walker. This is so hard to write, I don't even want to describe how awful it was, because it brings back too many awful memories, behaviors and attitudes, that our family is still working to put behind us.
Elder sister found the nh, a very, very good one that takes Medicare. (Medicaid?) we told her it was a hotel and that she had to stay for a few days because of a water main break. We had to develop little tricks for leaving without causing a scene. The nh staff had to develop strategies for dealing with her bossiness and telling everyone how to do everything. One of their strategies was to set her at a typewriter with some papers and tell her this was her job and that as soon as she earned enough money, she could get an apartment. She loved this. The food at the nh is very good, there are structured activities everyday. Mom is no longer afraid. She is content. She has not made friends with any other patients, they are all old people, but she gets along with her caretakers generally and one can hear their sense of pride in taking care of her in their voices. At this stage, she still enjoys going for a ride, although it is a struggle to get into the car. Restaurants are no longer a good choice, but sandwiches in the car at the beach are fun. She doesn't ask to go home anymore. In fact, elder brother took her home to visit and she had no inkling it was home. She is so much happier, safer, well taken care of, involved in activities, and less stressed. We are all so much less stressed. The nursing home has been a godsend and is helping us to navigate this atrocious disease that has taken our mother from us before her death. the nh has made it possible for us to know we are doing everything we can to provide her with quality of life and that she is as comfortable and happy as this dreaded disease allows.
I decided to post this for encouragement and because I think the healing process has finally begun for us. I wish you success in your struggles. Remember that this too shall pass.