I am the local family caregiver, and have been for at least five years. I realize when I talk to someone new on this journey how long I’ve been in this role and how many ups-and-downs we have weathered. While my parents have never lived with me, there are a host of issues to face when your loved one is in a care community.
I recently reconnected with someone who worked in the Continuing Care Community that my parents selected in 1999. My parents never seemed to make the full transition citing the residents were just “too old.” As my mom’s dementia progressed and we were really struggling to know how to help, there was one woman who my mom gravitated toward. In turn, so did I. She was always positive and even checked in on my parents when they moved out of “her” section of the community. When she left for a new opportunity, I was bummed. She could always give me an “on the ground” report of my parents which no one else in the community provided.
Currently, I am working through my expectations and desires for mom in her “new” community (she moved her last January). It’s one of the top-rated in the area for the care of those with dementia, however, we have hired in extra help for mom. When she transitioned last January, she was in hospice care. She was too weak to stand, toilet, dress, or even sit up. We knew having someone with her would help her transition, ensure her needs were immediately attended to, and make mom more comfortable in her new community. She’s since graduated from hospice. However, we are paying fees for the personal care assistant (PCA) on top of the monthly community fee which total more than $13,000/month. I am working to whittle down the extra assistance so we ensure mom’s funds can cover her care for the coming years. However, I treasure the safety net of the PCA. I can get a personal report on mom as well as know that someone is attentive to all of her needs and my expectations for her care.
On the days when her personal care assistant (PCA) comes in after lunch, sometimes mom doesn’t look as good as I think she should. On a recent visit her hair was up in a fountain on top of her head and the rest of her hair was still matted from sleep. I brushed out her hair and wondered if we cut back further would I feel guilty on the days I didn’t stop by to comb her hair? I have watched the staff do many caring acts for the residents, but also know some days they can be overwhelmed by all the care needs.
I understand my guilt over these choices are first-world complaints to those of you who are, will or considering caring for your loved ones in your home. But having a loved one in a community also brings different emotions, choices, and challenges.
I’m working to accept that there are no perfect solutions. There is just the solution that works for you and your loved one for the time-being.
I work to connect with the staff at the community and ensure they know that mom would never wear her hair in a fountain on the top of her head, so let’s use a head band or hair comb instead if need be. It’s a never-ending task because the staff does change and quite frequently. I just keep reminding myself that for now, this is the right option for mom, even on the days it is not perfect. Practiced.