Preparing a Loved One for Assisted Living

When the Realization Hits

There comes a time in the life of a caregiver when it is painfully clear things can’t go on as they are.

This is where I found myself after several years of utilizing senior centers and even adult day care outlived their usefulness.

In my husband’s regular cancer followup, his specialist took several looks at me, the caregiver, and after discussing blood work and his general condition turned her focus on me.

She said, “You’re in trouble here; you need to find an Assisted Living place close to where you live.”

She knew I had been a 24/7 caregiver for 13 years.

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She had also followed his case for about 7 years, so she felt confident in her observations about “caregiver wear-out” and the increasing challenges presented by his condition.

Then and there, she spoke to him about the need for more help and he listened but gave no further response, probably hoping it would all go away.

As a caregiver, I had just gone through the process of realizing that placement is the right thing for my loved one.

After doing research and seeking professional counsel, it was time to embark on the road of making it a positive experience for the patient.

Caregiver Concerns

When I reached that point I was worried that my husband would feel rejected or displaced, so I devised a series of steps to lead him gently into acceptance of Assisted Living.

Being a retired teacher, this successive approximations approach made sense to me.

First, I weepingly told him over several days when he fell that I could not keep it up and that I was wearing out and losing my health.

This was right after three EMTs pulled him out of the bathtub—not once, but several times.

This event was becoming a habit. I spoke till I knew he was understanding.

Then I went to do some work and let him process that.

A Process to Introduce the Idea of Placement

A week later I prearranged with a good friend of ours to sit by him as we ate lunch after church.

I was strategically placed at the other end of the table.

I knew he respected her, so she asked him if he’d noticed that his wife was wearing out.

He was rather noncommittal but he did hear her and seemed to be processing that information.

To support this coordinated effort of enlisting help from friends and family I used the weekdays in between these social events to put out one clear message to him.

I focused on how I needed his help rather than his weaknesses. The message involved my need to regain and retain my health since it was getting too hard for me.

The next week I scheduled him to drop by and see our minister before services.

As they chatted she brought up the problem, saying his wife was in over her head.

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He became concerned. (Even though his life sphere had grown smaller, he did have a deep love and caring for his wife.)

The reverend said she’d heard his Doctor recommended a great Assisted Living place not far from home so I as his wife could visit more often.

The minister allowed him to express his concerns that he would miss his wife.

Then at our usual after church lunch, his male buddies got him to talk about it and voiced their approval and support of the idea.

When my hubby said, “My wife is kicking me out” his good friend looked him right in the eye and countered with, “No! She’s taking care of you.”

Staying with One Clear Message

 

That day in the car on the way home we discussed the matter.

I, as his spouse and caregiver, had to stay strong and point out the positive to be gained from placement.

I reiterated to him that my doctors were telling me I must start taking care of myself.

Also, I reminded him that this was what his own doctors recommended.

He then expressed sadness and empathy that I was having health issues.

That gave me the opening to tell him how his allowing others to do some of the caregiving would help me.

He seemed to be okay with that.

The next week we went for a meeting at Williamsburg Landing, the assisted living place I had chosen after much research and many site visits.

The wonderful director was most helpful and took him on a tour, introducing him to people as we walked around the facility.

Value of Planning Ahead if Placement May Be Down the Road

There is no doubt that long-term care insurance has made a momentous difference in our lives.

We had spent down most of our retirement funds for copays and other medical expenses, and when it was time to utilize the long-term care insurance it was truly a godsend.

If you are in a position to make that decision to start or continue a long-term care insurance policy, think long and hard before you say no since it’s worth its weight in gold.

I faithfully paid my long-term care premiums even when I had to cut back on groceries because watching Suze Orman had convinced me of its importance.

Now my first-hand experience verifies the value of having somewhere to turn when things become too challenging for you to handle at home.

Also, long-term care insurance can help with continuing care at home to allow living at home for as long as possible.banner-papa-blogs

If that isn’t an option schedule a meeting with a qualified placement counselor or social worker and consider places close to you so visitation will occur more often.

In conclusion, caregivers are usually mentally and physically exhausted when they reach the point to finally decide to explore placement, so a multi-step plan could make the process much easier.

At that time they are confronted with the need to turn it into a good experience for all. Above are some of the ideas which worked for my husband.

It was worth all the effort to ensure that he had a positive transition into assisted living.

The good people at joinpapa.com can pitch in to help in the transition, providing respite, companionship, etc while the caregiver visits various facilities or seeks consultation.

A Papa Pal could make this journey of change a bit easier for you. And they can even drop by the assisted living center to provide companionship and other services for you there.

Placement may be a hard choice, but when it is necessary, you can find your way through it and come out happy with the result.

 


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Happy Valentine's Day: A Caregiver's Love Story

February brings thoughts of love and romance. Yet some stories are worth hearing any time of year:

Jack's life was no big deal. He excelled in business but seemed to find affairs of the heart a bit challenging.

Yet he eventually lived a love story that would melt the heart of the devil himself.

On the way to his defining moment, he stumbled onto the altar with a succession of ladies.

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As his middle years were passing him by, he once again divorced and married a 4th wife. As is often the case with multiple marriages, that love interest did not last.

Fatherhood did not work out very well for him either.

His son had been in and out of drug rehab programs more often than you could count, and his life had never taken hold of any purpose.

This brought Jack untold grief as he kept throwing both money and parts of his heart at the lifestyle of addiction his son had embraced.

Friendship seemed to work out better for him. He relished time spent with Jaques Cousteau's son since they both shared a love of underwater ocean beauty.

He owned a hotel in CanCun and booked exotic trips for diving amidst nature's shining sea treasures.

As a single and greying older man, he heard a doorbell, then an urgent knock at his door one day.

He opened to find his third ex-wife looking desperate as she pleaded to be invited in

She told her compelling story between sobs of both deep sorrows while finding comfort in his presence once again.

She had come to the realization that something was horribly wrong with her and she was out of her mind with a cold gripping fear.

After their long talk, Jack went into hero mode. First, he remarried her so she could get on his insurance and could inherit from him if she were to outlive him.

Then he got her a thorough medical checkup. The heart-breaking diagnosis was Pick's Disease, a very debilitating form of dementia.

This did not help the suffering but did give him some direction for his efforts at helping.

Before too many months had passed, her condition continued to worsen.

Eventually, he secured a 24-hour team of nurses and caregivers to allow his wife to stay home as she so dearly wanted.

The ocean view at Bal Harbour by Miami seemed to be calming to her.

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Jack may have had challenges with marriages, and even parenting, but it is clear he excelled in love.

No doubt he came a bit late to the role of hero-lover, but the daily gift of love he gave his wife was truly amazing.

His attention to vital details and his kind way of including her in his senior years speaks volumes for the type of man he had become.

Eventually, he discovered that he had an advanced incurable cancer and soon was pronounced terminal.

He stepped up to take charge of her future and his by managing crucial details while he himself was suffering and grieving his own demise.

He coordinated with her family in Savannah so she would continue to receive tender loving care.

It was both heart-rending and impressive to attend the "going away party" he gave a few weeks before his demise.

He used this as a chance to connect once more with a number of his friends, and to even coordinate plans on tying up loose ends of both his personal and business affairs.

When his time came and he passed on, his life was a testament to the wise fact that it is never too late for doing something marvelous with one's life.

Careful end of life planning proved vital to seal his love story with a kiss.

Perhaps when the romance and fervor of a relationship are growing dim, a reassuring hug and a quiet kiss can be one of the greatest love stories ever told.

Many caregivers know this is true, and labor daily to bring love and care to their loved ones.

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Life has taught them that love can be expressed in many ways including caring for needs day in and day out.

Caregivers dispense their love and kindness without many breaks or expressions of love directed their way.

Wouldn’t this be a great time to call papa.com and schedule a break for a caregiver you know?

They can help out with regular routines, provide transportation, cook a meal, and do whatever is needed.

No doubt companionship may be one of their greatest gifts.