A Reality of Dementia Caregiving

By Robert Elmer III on May 13, 2018 in Uncategorized
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The following is an actual post from the public “Chatboard” on the Alzheimer’s Associations web site, www.alz.org. 

“It is with a very heavy heart and a sense of failure that I am moving forward to place my Mom in Memory Care.  Mom was diagnosed four years ago and she lives with my husband and I. We both still work and we can no longer care for her as she needs. Mom has Alz. and LBD (Lewey Body Dementia). She hallucinates and her physical abilities are declining. My husband and I are in our 60’s and are tired. I have three sisters that have only shown up recently and have done nothing but criticize and attack my husband and I. I am POA and since I communicated with them that I was looking to place mom it has been attacks 24 hours a day by text. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have posted about my family but it has gone to the point of constant insults, name calling and threats of legal action. I have contacted an Elder Care Attorney and terminated all communication except through an email box. Although I no longer see them as family, I want to do the right thing and insure they can visit mom and have a chance to be in her life if they choose. The stress is almost unbearable, this is such a heavy decision. I have tried so hard to complete this journey but we are physically drained and emotionally spent. I have no tears left to cry and I fear that guilt will haunt me the rest of my life. My mom is the most precious person in my life. I am the oldest and she has been mine to take care of since I was eight. She was always afraid of the world and I learned very quick to protect mom. She cared for my children after they were born so I could work. She is like a mom to them. Mom has been in our home for 12 years as was my father before he died 4 years ago. I have never been so empty, sad and felt so alone. Will mom hate me for this decision? Will I be that daughter that put her in that place? How do I move on from here? I am so sad, so very sad. I pray that God forgives me for this decision.” Yikes!

 I could write an entire book as a response to this post and the issues it raises but I’d prefer to deal with her mind set. 

There is no reason for this woman to feel guilty or as a failure about accepting the fact that, because of her mothers illness, she now requires an level of care that can no longer be accommodated at home. Truth be told, she has been a blessing to her mother.  When I counsel families I ask them to look at dementia like any other disease that  requires a certain care protocol. If her mother had a debilitating stroke nursing home care would be appropriate. If she had metastatic cancer throughout her body, again, the time would come when her needs would require skilled care. To deny her the level of care she now needs is what  should make her feel guilty. 

I’ve had families refuse to separate Mom and Dad because they thought, in their words, it would kill them. The reality? Keeping them together would be what would kill them. Once her mother adjusts to her new supportive environment, feels safe and is receiving the special care and attention she deserves,  hate will not be one of her emotions. 

The only time she should be asking for God’s forgiveness is if she doesn’t take this necessary step and deny her mother the care she truly needs at this time. Questions? Email me at REPE @careforcaregivers.org. Remember, Join the Journey.

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Robert Elmer IIIView all posts by Robert Elmer III