October 4, 2016 – Issue 43
Photo: Elderly Care (Marcia Pevey) © www.flickr.com
I regularly meet with families and witness their anguish, denial and frustrations with regards to caring and worrying about their parent(s), in-law(s) and other relatives, in my role as the Director of Care. Often they must make the decision to admit their love ones into a long term care unit due to changes in their physical and/or mental status. This is especially true if the individual has Alzheimer’s or Dementia and are no longer able to make their own decisions and could be a danger to themselves and possibly others.
“Old age is not a disease – it is strength and survivorship, triumph
over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses.”
Whether you have reached that point in your life or not in which you are dealing with elderly relatives, there is a high probability that not too far in the future you may have to become a care giver along with making life changing decisions for a parent, in-law or some other relative and maybe even your spouse. Aging is something we can’t avoid but we can be better prepared for it.
There may come a time when someone close to you may require to be admitted into a long term care facility. This could be due to their physical body slowly weakening in which they now require assistance to do even the most basic needs such as washing themselves, going to the washroom or even being fed. Then, there is the possibility their mind is no longer functioning as well as it did and their short term memory has faded, meaning they can no longer be left alone; they require 24-hour care and monitoring and can no longer make their own decisions.
Each family has their own distinct story to tell, however it always comes down to SAFETY. The reason these individuals need to be admitted is to provide them with a safe environment, 24-hour nursing care and for the ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia a locked setting.
“Everyone must accept that we will age and age is not always flattering.”
If you have love ones who you may be wondering if it is time to seek out a place where they can receive the necessary 24-hour care, support and be able to flourish in the right environment, if you have observed any of the following conditions:
- Having increase confusion
- Having increased changes in their behavior
- Experience an increase number of falls
- Struggling to look after themselves
- Not taking their medications when required
- Getting lost when they go out and can’t remember their address
- Leaving the stove on
- Forgetting to eat and drink fluids
- No longer able to maintain a normal conversation or they keep repeating themselves with questions and answers
- No longer able to perform tasks they did for years
- Calling family and friends for no apparent reason, especially at night
- Displaying aggression and/or paranoid behavior
- Struggling to form coherent judgments and often exhibit a disregard for the consequences
- Having difficulty to rationalize and problem solve
- Becoming obsessive on certain issues or things
- May no longer be orientated to time, place and people around them
- Becoming more withdrawn from social situations and activities
Speak to their physician for assessment. Check out facilities that provide various levels of care to see what is available, how they operate and where the individual would fit in. If you are looking for a funded bed, often there is a waiting list; however, depending on their finances if they need to be placed in a retirement home immediately, you may be able to place them in a private home.
For many individuals, having the discussion as to whether to be placed in a retirement home and not receive CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if one’s heart should stop is a very taboo subject. However, it is important to have this discussion early on when everyone is able to openly express, discuss and hear what everyone is feeling and wanting before it gets to a critical stage when individuals are no longer able to speak for themselves. This conversation should also identify who should be responsible for their finances and decision-making when they are no longer able to do this.
“After you’re older,
two things are possibly more important than any others: health and money.”
~Helen Gurley Brown
As our society continues to age, we will continue to see more families struggling with these issues. As we approach Thanksgiving weekend and you gather with your loves ones, why not PLAN to have a frank discussion about where they would like to be care for if their health changes especially if they require these services. And, if you are now getting closer to those senior years, it may also be a good idea to have a conversation with your family as to what you would like for yourself too. Then take the next step by arranging to visit a lawyer to have everything placed in writing to make it legal.