I have seen several times people asking when is it time to place my loved one. In simple terms, there is no real time. Its all by heart and feeling.
When I was taking care of Richard, I also had a 3 year old. Being a mom to a 3 year old was hard, but add in taking care of someone else as you are having to take care of a child, its exhausting. Yes, I had my husband, but that didn’t take away the fact that I was taking care of a dying man. I always tell people this.. when you are questioning yourself, start looking for help.
But, before you place someone in a nursing home, there are other options out there and all can be used to determine your next step. First of all, you need to read my past blog Pouring From Empty. I go into detail about how I filled myself back up. Now, I will admit, I went to complete empty, to fumes, and back again since that was written. It was rough. There is something that all of us caregivers need to do. Take a break. Yes, I know its easier said than done. But there are several options to get that break.
Family and Friends
The first one is ask your friends or family to come give you a break. Now, yes I know that is not always easy. I personally believe if you have family around, they should come and help. I know that not all of us are blessed with close knit or close in distance family. I also know that its not always easy to get anyone to come because of life. I have seen where people who once cared about someone just fade away into the background because in simple words, they were in denial about how bad things have gotten. They didn’t want to admit that that person was declining. They would rather live their lives and make excuses. If that is your case, do you or your loved one belong to a church? If so, many times there will be someone that will love to come in. Getting a break, even for an hour can be amazing. If their time is limited, take that shower, lay down for a nap, just be alone and relax. If you have longer, do the errands you have been putting off, go take care of yourself. Hair appointment, nails done, whatever makes you feel like a whole person again. I didn’t have this option for either my father-in-law or my mom. I had a cousin that wanted to, but she wasn’t able due to her own health issues. What other family members I did have close by, they didn’t care. The other family members lived hours away and wasn’t able to. But, I did have their love and support. The one that lives close by came over for the first time in years and it had been so long that my mom didn’t know who she was. She was her cousin. It actually surprised me that they came because in 20+ years, she hadn’t talked to us. Go figure. The next ideas cost money, but are in no particular order.
Adult Day Care
These I have no dealings with, but from what I have heard from others to doing my research on them, this is a great option for those who need a break or have other obligations. In essence, its what it says. A place for a loved one to go to be taken care of. They fall into generally three main categories, but all intertwine with each other. The categories are social interaction, medical care, and memory care. This can be an easy solution for anyone who has to go to work, but cannot leave their loved one alone. Price can vary. I will not say average price just because states vary, demographics vary, and level of care vary. You also have to factor in private insurance, Medicare, or cash options as well. Adult day care can be used for as little or as much time as you need.
Adult day care gives social interaction for your loved ones. No matter the diagnosis, social interaction is critical for seniors. Music therapy, assistance in toileting, taking medications, exercise, simple medical care, therapy of any kind are just a few of what adult day care offers. If they just need an occasional hand up, this is a great option so you can work or do what you need to without them becoming a recluse. I have noticed that those who have the social interactions are not only mentally better, but it works into how they feel physically. Medical and memory care both provide assistance in more in depth needs. The services that are provided, especially in memory care, it has been shown to improve the cognitive needs. Of course, there is much more to adult day care and much to consider. Some also provide transportation to and from the day care. Adult day care has also helped in delay the permanent placing of a loved one. This is a great place to start if you are considering this option.
In Home Care
This I have actually have been on both sides of. I have worked for an in home care agency and have had one come in to help with mom. I worked for Visiting Angels for a short time, but gained so much knowledge. This is where I learned about dealing with dementia. In home care has several different levels of care. I had clients that just needed help with basics.. cleaning, errand running, and everyday things. I had others where it was more hands on. Showering, dressing, physical therapy (guidelines were given), and anything else that was needed along with everyday things. There is also respite care, which we had for my mom along with making sure she ate in the morning. Rates do vary, and of course, insurance can also play a factor in what you pay. All of these services play an important part for any caregiver.
For me as someone who did these services, it made me realize that those who do this day in and day are amazing. Never in a million years did I ever think I was going to be the one needing the help. Respite help for sure. When I needed the help, I knew how Visiting Angels were for me working for them, it was no doubt I would use them. In home care is great for respite care. I had to use them for when I had my foot surgery and I couldn’t be on my foot for 6 weeks. For those who need help and cannot handle trips out, this is a great option. I personally cannot say enough what home health did for helping us. If you do not want to place your loved one in a permanent facility, I personally will say this is the way to go.
This one is hard for I think anyone taking care of a loved one. It makes us think we have given up on them, but in reality, their care is beyond us. Nursing homes are expensive. The cost can be astronomical, especially if you have to pay for the care out of pocket. Then we hear the horror stories of elder abuse and lack of care. I get it. I really do. When mom was declining so fast, we were urged to check out a nursing home close to us and get an idea of what we were looking at cost wise. Needless to say, dad and I were a bit shell shocked on the price. I will also say, do your research on them. Don’t go with just the first one you find. You are doing a job interview so to speak. This is a checklist from Medicare to perform nursing home interviews. If you don’t feel right in there, follow that instinct. I will always say, follow your gut. Your gut is almost always right.
Making any of these decisions is hard, whether it is asking help from friends and family, to placing them in a home, and will throw you into a pool of guilt. I have seen so many posts asking when is it time to place them. If you are asking that question, you already have that answer. Everyone needs a break every once in a while. But, there is a point that the care becomes more than we can handle.
We had hospice for both my father-in-law and my mom. But, there was a time when I did have to say help. Like I wrote before, my father-in-law had pulled his feeding tube out and that is when we knew it was time. I didn’t want my 3 year old son finding his grandpa dead.
There are times when we, as caregivers, just cant go anymore. No matter how much we try to fill our cups back up, sometimes it just doesn’t work. That is when you know you need help. When your loved one has drastically taken a turn for the worst and you can’t keep up, it is time to ask for help. When you are constantly on the verge of tears because you just can’t go anymore, its time to ask for help. Weather or not its placing a loved one in a nursing home or just getting relief for an hour or so, do what you need to do for yourself.
When I was faced with having surgery on my foot, I had to really think about it. Yes, it could have waited till after mom passed, but the pain was so unbearable some days that I wouldn’t have been any good to my mom. I prayed about it and talked to my family about it. The few times that mom had her clear moments, she even told me to do it. So, I did. And then I was faced to figure out the help since I couldn’t do anything for mom while I was healing. I was so thankful that hospice helped get us the extra help I needed. That is where Visiting Angels came in.
Looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have felt the guilt of taking some time for me. I actually wish I took more time for me, but getting that help was like pulling teeth. My dad thought he could do it all, he thought I could do it all. We both were going nonstop and truth be told, I knew I needed help but I couldn’t convince dad until it was an absolute necessity. Even at that, it took doctors orders to say I couldn’t be on my foot, the hospice workers making the phone calls to help me get the respite care so I could heal.
I hope that this has helped you make decisions that need to be made. I know the heartache that goes into making these decisions. If anyone needs to talk, I am here.