Are You Part of the Solution?

By Robert Elmer III on September 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

When asked about slavery, Thomas Jefferson said…”It’s like having a wolf by the ears; you don’t like it very much but you don’t dare let go.” When I think about the challenge that those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s have, I know that many, pretty much feel the same way.
Sadly, I hear all to often of those situations where the primary home caregiver “won’t let go” and in most cases, that’s not a good thing for either of them. There’s the husband who has nailed windows shut and barricaded his doors to keep people away from his ailing wife. There’s the devoted wife of 62 years that is being verbally abused night and day but is to embarrassed to tell anyone or the “younger” wife that is sleeping on the couch in front of his bedroom so she’ll know if he wanders at night. As you would expect, the quality of life of everyone in these homes leaves a great deal to be desired.
There’s no place for apathy in the caregiving process and even if you are not the direct caregiver, I hope you realize that there’s no shame in getting involved, directly or indirectly when you become aware of situations like these. If you do take the initiative and approach an overwhelmed caregiver but they rebuff your offer, there are other avenues. Don’t be afraid to contact your local Department of Elderly Affairs, your Alliance for Better Long Term Care or your local Human Services office. Although Human Services won’t be able to provide you with direct assistance, they will be able to refer you to the proper agency that serves your area. You should also understand that you will be able to share your concerns and remain anonymous.
In most cases, the caregivers have no idea that there is assistance available and that contacting Elderly Affairs, the Alzheimer’s Association or going to a support group for help and insight is not necessarily going to result in the loved one having to leave the home. With that said, if there is a determination that a dedicated environment is a better, safer option for all concerned, is that a bad thing? I know I’ve written about this in the past but it bears repeating; ensuring that your loved one is in an appropriate environment, that meet all their needs, is critical to their well being and yours!
In my many years of Senior Care Administration, I can’t begin to tell you about the countless times I met with families that insisted Mom and Dad stay together. They would say that to separate them would be the “end of them.” It wasn’t easy, but I felt it was my responsibility to tell them, “no, their staying together in their current situation will be the end of them.” The irony is that deep down they knew that too and that’s why they came to see me in the first place.
If you’re a caregiver, I implore you to take the time to learn of the many resources that are available to you. If you are a relative, friend or maybe just a neighbor that’s aware of an unfortunate situation that needs professional attention, don’t be afraid to become part of the solution. I had a woman stop into my office once to ask if we provided respite care because she wanted to go on vacation. Early in the conversation, when I asked if her mother wandered, she answered, “no, we stopped that by taking away her shoes and tying her in a chair.” I informed her that that was abuse, asked her to leave and until now, they didn’t know it was me (with a very clear conscience) that contacted The Department of Elderly Affairs.
If you have any questions please email me at And Remember, Join The Journey.

About the Author

Robert Elmer IIIView all posts by Robert Elmer III

1 Comment

Add comment

Leave a Reply