I have mentioned before in previous blogs that one of the things about a progressive degenerative dementia is that it does not fade. You don’t heal from this. You just watch it steal someone’s life slowly. It is a terrible thing to watch a loved one go through this.
It seems like once we have dad’s care down and things are stable, he suddenly changes and we have to run about figuring how to best care for him again in the face of a constant changing tide. We had already moved his home health care workers’ hours to cover when he gets out of bed in the morning to the hour he needed to be put in bed later that night. However, one January morning, his primary care person got there to find him wandering in his driveway, in pajamas, confused about where he was and what was going on.
This led to the Band-Aid measures of reversing locks on doors. There is a sign in his room reminding him to stay in bed until a health care person arrives in the morning. We even called a security company, thanks to a friend’s suggestion. But again, it seemed like these measures were not dealing with the real issue. Dad now needed 24-hour care.
Our primary home health care person is amazing – really she is. She was willing to find a person for an overnight position and get them going. However, she is only one person. What happens when she is on vacation and the overnight person doesn’t show up? Do I then need to go over and take on those duties? What if it is a few nights in a row? These are all scenarios that plagued the minds of two people, my husband and myself, who already have found our lives irrevocably changed – and by proxy those of our children – due to the years of dad’s care.
One Saturday morning over our coffee, we both fell into another slump – we get those often with the last few years we have had. We just felt powerless to understand how to best serve dad and yet be able to move along in life with our nuclear family of five. We needed something different. We needed something different for our lives at this point. We prayed hard that morning. We felt very lost.
Whatever your beliefs, we received a strong message back that we should consider permanent solutions for him this time. We went and relooked at the memory care places in our area again that very Saturday. When we looked at them before, about a year and a half ago – they seemed like “too much.” This time, it was different. This time, the way they were structured and even the cost, no longer seemed like too much.
We fell in love with one place in particular. It was new and only serves those with dementia. We both felt like this was exactly the place and care that dad needed. Of course, then you have to ask that scary question, “What does your waiting list look like?” She answered back, “Because we are new, we had room for awhile. But now, we only have one room left, and it is for a man.”
We thought and prayed on this for a few days. We talked to my sister about it and she was very supportive. Eventually, we went back – still found we loved the place, and signed up.
This is not an easy transition. Telling our wonderful primary health care person has been the most difficult step so far. She is like part of the family and if we could clone her, we probably would have gone that route.
Someone asked us what we will do if dad hates the place. We aren’t really sure. But I might get a little selfish sounding here. We need him to like it or at least be okay with it. Right now, our family needs to be able to move on and make some decisions that don’t have my father in the forefront anymore.
I love my dad, but it is time for a new phase in my life. For me, for my husband, for my kids. It is time for dad to have a new home.