I woke up to the smell of bacon.
My mother always said, when I was excited for the next day, the sooner you go to sleep the faster the night will go. When I woke I thought how fast the night went. I love bacon but what I loved more was my new baseball uniform and the thought of the Little League Jamboree. It was the start of baseball season and was one of the most exciting times of the year. As I sat down and tried to eat, butterflies were freely filling my stomach as eagerness and anxiousness joined to flood my emotions. I not only had the privilege to play on a good team (that year we won the city championship), but I got to sit across the table from the team manager, my father.
My dad was a man’s man. He was loving but also no nonsense. He held the record at his gym for being able to squat the most weight. Even in his 70's he was able to do one legged squats. I always felt safe with my father. Although he worked day, swing, and graveyard shifts he still found time to take me to the doctor, manage our baseball team, take us to Martial Arts, among many other things. The sometimes sad and challenge in life is things don’t always stay the same.
In his late 50s, we found out later, he had a series of little strokes. Over time the strokes started to affect his memory. I took him to the doctor and he was diagnosed with Dementia. It was my time for care. It became my, and my wife’s, responsibility to care for his every need. It was my turn to take him to the doctor as he took me when I was a child. We started to do roll reversal. I became the parent and he became the child. I wanted him to feel safe with me like I felt safe with him. Over time he didn’t recognize anyone but my mother. In his eyes I was just another person, not the son he once took care of. No more sharing bacon around the table and talking about the exciting day ahead of us.
He started to wonder. My mother called me after the police picked him up walking the neighborhood. I had to place him in a memory care facility for his own safety. It was the toughest day of my life.
As a specialist in long-term care, I have worked with many families facing what I went through. My father in-law, before he passed, said, “growing older isn’t for whimps.” Placing a loved one in a facility isn’t for whimps either. Every family I have worked with over the last 17 years, facing this challenge, want to keep their family member home. I know I felt the same way. If you are in this situation or you know someone who is there are some things to consider for everyone’s good. Many times the care responsibility falls on one family member, most times it is the spouse. If not careful the person, having to take care of the disabled person while looking after their own day to day responsibilities, can become stressed and ill. If the impaired family member starts to wonder his/her safety might be compromised.
I recently had a client whose wife had dementia. She has since passed. It became very difficult for him to care for her at home. To acclimate her to a memory care facility he told her he had to work out of town and he was leaving her “with these nice people”. She accepted that and the facility quickly, within a few days, became her home.
It is amazing how fast people can adapt to their new home at the facility. When on the fence about placing a loved one in a care community consider a few important points:
If they have advanced dementia they don’t know where their home is. My father wondered the streets because he was looking for his home. Knowing that helped me place him because I knew I wasn’t taking him away from the home he lived in for 30 years.
You can visit your love one anytime and stay as long as you would like. You are not sending them off to never see them again. Moving them to a care setting allows you to go to your home and get some peace and rest.
Most people have never experienced taking care of a disabled person. Community care givers do it for a living. They are professionally trained. Sure there are below average facilities but by thoroughly checking the place out (I suggest going in at night time when the administrator and top management is not there) you should be able to determine their quality of care.
Many times Medicaid does not pay for home health care. The impaired person has to reside in a facility. If you are trying to protect your savings placing your loved one in a facility so you can get them Medicaid qualified can make sense. This can substantially cut your expenses and help protect your assets.
Placing a family member in a professional long-term care setting can be a challenge. A family needs to weight the effect it has on all. It is one of the most difficult decisions anyone will every face. Keep in mind the decision can be reversed, it isn’t carved in stone. I wish you the best in whatever you decide.