Time to Transition? Be Proactive.

By Robert Elmer III on August 7, 2017 in Uncategorized
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I’m happy to share with you that I have had a very busy Spring. I spoke at a conference in Portland, Maine, to Federal Employees in Massachusetts, at another conference in Providence, in three different Senior Care communities and at the new Mystic Geriatric Institute “Senior Summit” and thankfully, there’s more ahead. These articles are often issue driven by you my readers or by questions I get from my audiences and this article is no exception.
Along with the constant question of whether or not they will find a cure for Alzheimer’s, another question that seems to be coming up more and more frequently is, “when will I know it’s time for my loved one to leave home?”
The first piece of advice that I always give, regardless if you may be considering assisted living, dedicated memory care or skilled nursing care is to be proactive. Do your home work ahead of time so when and if you are faced with having to make a transition, you’ll be prepared and comfortable that you’ve made a good choice. You do NOT want to be making this decision in a crisis. It’s not fair to you and it certainly isn’t fair to your loved one. By crisis I mean that some episode or incident has “forced your hand” and now you only have a few days to decide what the next step will be because being home is no longer and option. Remember, there’s nothing worse than having a loved one at home that requires a level of care that cannot be accommodated there.
Many was the time that I would meet with families and learn that he wasn’t eating well, she was making a mess of taking her medications, his hygiene was compromised, she was isolated and depressed and the at home caregiver was ready to “go down with the ship.” “I’m doing laundry three times a night because he’s incontinent”, “I’m sleeping on a couch in front his bedroom so I’ll know if he wanders at night” or I can’t have 5 minutes alone in the bathroom because he insists on always being with me” are just some of what I hear. With those comments in mind, it’s no wonder that the mortality rate of an at home caregiver (spouse to spouse, sibling to sibling etc) is 63% greater than it is for non-caregivers of the same age.
Dealing with the challenges of aging and dementia isn’t easy but you have to look at it like any other illness or health care concern. If your loved one had cancer, there would be a specific care plan you would follow, likewise, if they had a stroke, once again, there’s a plan you’d follow. Meeting the challenges of caring with a loved one with dementia also requires a specific strategy; a strategy that may include transitioning them out of the home and into either a dedicated Memory care community or maybe a Skilled Community, if that’s what’s best for them. Those vows you may have taken 40,50 or 60 years ago, you know… “in sickness and in health” do not apply here because to do so would be putting both of you in harms way. Ask yourself if he or she would want you compromising your welfare caring for them? I’m confident that in most cases, they wouldn’t.
None of us wants to leave home, especially those with Alzheimer’s dementia; it’s where they feel the safest. A dedicated environment is staffed with trained professionals that understand this and that’s why their first job is to insure your loved one feels safe and secure in their new home. I can also promise you that you’ll enjoy getting your life back as well as be asking yourself, “why didn’t I do this sooner?” You’ll quickly learn it will be a wonderful move, for both of you.
Questions? Email me at repe@careforcaregivers.org. Remember, Join the Journey.

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Robert Elmer IIIView all posts by Robert Elmer III