Question:

I’m requesting help or ideas. Unfortunately It’s time for my mother (who has Alzheimer’s) to go to a care facility. She is currently at home. She has refused to get into a vehicle for almost a year now. For her safety and others, what should i do?

Answer:

If you are taking care of a loved one at home, you might consider palliative care through a home hospice. Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

In my experience with home hospice, they provide 3 CNA visits per week, a skilled nurse once a week, an MD visit once a month, and a social worker once a month. They also have respite volunteers to help the caregiver take some time off, various counselors and chaplains, podiatrists, and even hairdressers. They prescribe all the necessary meds, and supplies like ointments, diapers, AP mattresses, wheelchairs, etc. All of it was covered by Medicaid. They will assist you in caring for her at home, a familiar environment, which is much better than being in a facility. However, this is a decision that should be made according to the condition of the patient, and abilities of the caregiver.

Before resorting to palliative care, a regular home health care agency might be a better option. They offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy visits in addition to CNA and skilled nursing. When a patient is past the point where therapy is effective, that agency can refer you to palliative hospice care at home, or in a facility. If you opt for a facility, do very exhaustive research, so that you can find the best one, one that you will have confidence in.

There are many excellent professional caregivers in facilities, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about making that choice. I have been down all these roads, and personally, I considered a facility as a last resort. Not because their caregivers are “bad”, or they don’t give quality care. It’s just that too many of them are under staffed, with one or two CNAs being responsible for 25 patients.

My mom refused to eat, or participate in group physical therapy in the facility, which was an unforeseen consequence. I found myself spending the entire day there, from 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM, every day, accompanying her to therapy sessions, feeding her, and even changing her when she was incontinent. She would only eat for me, and wouldn’t allow anyone else to feed her, so I brought her home, and got home assistance, first from home health care, and then from hospice. That’s working out much better.

Every situation is different. Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty about your choices. Do your homework, get all the information you can, and make a decision that works for your particular situation, knowing that you are acting out of love, putting the patient’s needs first, and doing the best you can.

It’s not an easy situation to be in for anybody, and can be overwhelming, but over time, experience and training will make it less overwhelming, and more manageable. Especially when you have professional assistance, so seek help. There are a lot of good people in the field who will help you, you don’t have to go it alone.

WebMD has additional information on palliative care.

The community member who wrote this helpful post wishes to remain anonymous.

 

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