Can I Keep My Promise? A Caregiver Dilemma.

By Carol Combs, MSW, Oxford’s Memory Care Program Coordinator

If you are a caregiver of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, you desperately want to keep your loved one at home and you are committed to doing so.  Most likely you made a promise, and you feel a duty to provide care.

I can’t even begin to add up the number of times I have heard people say to me, “I promised I would never place my loved one in a nursing home” OR “I promised that I would always be the one to take care of my loved one.”

The promises you made may be impossible to keep. Here are some signs and circumstances that despite your best efforts as a caregiver, a change may need to take place.

  • You or your loved one has had a serious illness, injury or hospitalization.
  • You’ve hurt your back or fallen when trying to lift or move your loved one.
  • Your loved one has progressed to the point where he/she hurts you, exhibits frequent anger or other challenging behaviors.
  • Your loved one has wandered outside and become lost.
  • Your own health is declining.
  • Your relationships are suffering.
  • You are not able to keep up with your other responsibilities.
  • Your loved one’s doctor has recommended placement.
  • Your loved one requires more care than you can provide.
  • You don’t think you can financially afford to hire the additional care needed at home.
  • Friends and family express concern for you and encourage you to consider placement.

Keep in mind, if your own physical or emotional well-being is suffering, you may soon be unable to provide the care and support needed by your loved one.

Seek information and support and look at ALL of your options before making a decision. Planning ahead to know what your options are can help you be there for your loved one as you continue to offer the love and support needed during this challenging journey.

What are your options?

A home care agency such as Oxford can provide a wide range of home care services to assist and help keep a loved one at home. An Oxford Care Coordinator can assess your situation, make recommendations, and identify sources of payment to meet your needs. They can also arrange for services if requested to do so. Oxford services such as Hospice and Private Duty can also be provided in facilities.

If home care is no longer feasible, it may be time to consider a facility placement.   Sometimes, the next appropriate step is an Assisted Living facility before a nursing home is needed.   An Assisted Living facility provides care for someone who can no longer live independently and needs some assistance in day-to-day living but does not need the more skilled level of care offered by a nursing home.

The nursing home provides 24 hour skilled nursing care for the more chronically ill. Both types of facilities will often have a designated unit for dementia care.

A stay at either type of facility can sometimes be short term for recuperation or as respite, and the person can then return home with home care.

If you have questions about the appropriate level of care your loved one may need, an Oxford Memory Care Coordinator can assist you.

If you are considering a facility placement for your loved one, the following links have helpful information.

http://www.caregiveraction.org/_doc/pdf/NursHomeChecklist.pdf

http://www.medicare.gov/files/nursing-home-checklist.pdf