I finally understand my Mom when she says she doesn't want to end up in a nursing home.

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The last posts I've made here are always when I feel overwhelmed or mad at my mom, but this is a different post.

I know that I do not have the patience or the sanity to take care of my mom if she becomes worse than she is. But my cousin, which is in her 40s, recently had a stroke that made her paralyzed on the right side. She doesn't really have anyone to take care of her. I certainly can't and her husband has already passed away and her kids can't do it either. So she's in a rest home. I've been visiting her nearly every day for the past few weeks because nobody else has. Her kids have visited her once and the rest of the family is too far to visit or just don't care.

When I first walked into the rest home it didn't seem so bad. I came on a good day though, it was "Candlelight Dinner" day. They had great music playing, the residents seemed in good spirits, and they were having a sort of party in the dinner room which was right next to my cousin's room. The staff seemed wonderful. And her roommate is a great lady. I had a lot of hope for her getting better there.

As each day passed the place seems to be getting dimmer and dimmer though. I realized that the Candlelight Dinner day was not an every day thing. The walls seemed to close in more. And the smells started to float through the air. And the staff started to seem less patient, more hauty and it seemed like they never gave my cousin a bath or changed her diaper until I came to see her when I could directly ask a nurse. The hallways are depressing with people in the hallways in their wheelchairs, or walking around in their diaper looking lost, one lady got completely undressed.

The outside area is beautiful. They have a courtyard with cute patio tables and lots of flowers, but inside the resident's curtains are always closed and they never seem to go out and get fresh air.

This is my first time going into a rest home so much and now i finally realize why my mom says she never wants to end up there. I can't blame her. I wouldn't want my mom there. I could not live with myself or look myself in the mirror if I knew that my mom was in the hallway in her diaper.

But on the other hand I know myself too well to know that I would resent my mother for the "burden". For not being able to live my life the way I need to for my sanity.

Life. Is. So. Hard.

Thankfully i don't have to think about that now really. But it is hard seeing my cousin in there like that.

Is there a happy medium?

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I agree with JessieBelle, who sums up the situations very succinctly. Life choice we make are not always the optimal choices, whether someone is elderly or a teenager or working age person. Compromises are necessary, perhaps more so when aging and poor health are factors as options are more limited.

We have to analyze the options and choose the best, based on the circumstances. Life is in fact about choices.

Having said that, I completely understand and sympathize with Jenny's points. And as JessieBelle stated, there are situations when it is no longer feasible or possible for family members to care for a severely compromised loved one.

We took care of my sister in her home during her last months battling cancer, and my father took care of my mother at their home (with help from my sister and me) until she became so fearful of falling that she was afraid to walk. It was just physically impossible for him to care for her then and we had to select a SNF. But there was no way that we were pleased at having had to do so.

And much as it saddens me that her last days were there, I've eventually been able to see it as a learning experience to help my father. We've both come a long way since the first SNF experience. I now have a several page checklist which I take with me when I interview a facility, I check out the Medicare reports on the facility, and sometimes ask the residents in halls or dining rooms how they like the place. The facilities my father was in for brief stays post-injury were of much higher quality as a result of what I learned from experiences with SNFs where my mother stayed.

My father is now in his mid 90s still lives alone and we've been able to bring in some services to assist him. He's also a very strong person and sees some of the aspects of aging as a challenge. Fortunately he has excellent neighbors and some church support to help him when I can't. Much as I dread it I need to line up support for him if the situation changes, and it will be in-home support for as long as it's possible.

However, I think the choice to use an ALF or independent living is a family one, based on unique circumstances, and don't criticize or presume to judge those who do. We each have to do the best we can under the circumstances.
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I don't think many of us want our loved ones in NHs. Many of them are much nicer than described here, I'm sure, but they'll never be as good as being able to travel back in time with family. The sad thing is that when people become older, family members often do not have enough strength or resources to care for elder members. And unfortunately, we cannot go back in time to where the elder was younger and stronger. In this situation, placement is the only option. If this need arises, the only things caregivers can do is look for the best facility available that they can afford and visit often to make sure things are good. It will never be as good as home when they were younger, but it is better than home when they are older and not able to receive all the care they need anymore. Their needs have become greater than the strength and resources of the caregiver.
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My mother is in a nursing home nearby. It's family owned and run, rather than being owned by a big company. It's an older one floor building, very "homey" and spotlessly clean. There are activities every day, a separate dining room where those who can't feed themselves are fed one on one, physical therapy, bathing 2x a week, daily laundry and the occasional bus trip to Walmart. The staff are totally awesome and no matter what day or time of day you visit it's always the same. I feel so lucky to have found it.

I cared for my mother, now 88, for four years (Parkinsons, stroke and dementia) until she deteriorated to the point she needed care 24/7. In the last year she's broken a hip, had more strokes and, unable to sit up or stand, is in bed or a wheelchair. I don't know how long she has left - days, weeks, months, years? - and we just take it one day at a time. In the meantime she's safe, comfortable, fed and has the best care around the clock.

Shaking, you're right, today's civilization (if you can call it that) is a mess.Eighteen months ago I moved to a wee dilapidated cottage with 2 acres on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and left the rat race plastic people and their lifestyle behind. Surrounded by fields and forest, peace and quiet, just me and my beloved dogs, I plan to grow some of my own food and generally live a simple life close to the earth and nature. It feeds my soul each and every day.
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Research it now! Long term home care, spend down and medicaid provided in-home care, etc. I gave up my life for a few years so that my mother wouldn't be in one of those places--it would have killed her so much sooner. It means so much to be at home. Look into it now because if you do it only when the time comes it's too late!
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care homes aren't ambrosia with whipped topping. theyre staffed with pill thieving half wits in many cases. the option of medicare provided home care services is rising fill the void and it leaves the family fully in control. talk to family doc and local hospital social services..
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