By: Debrah Nadler, BS, MBA, CCA, RA
My mom was always a loving and hardworking woman who prioritized her family even though life was hard. I don’t know how she raised my sister and me with little money and no family nearby; she managed it with love and non-stop work, making our lives complete.
Mom remarried and life improved for her. After retiring, she and my stepfather moved to Florida to be near me. After her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the two of them talked and decided I was to be the one they felt would take care of them. I had no problem stepping up as my mom had done for me all those years.
As her caregiver, I knew she did not want to leave her home. I tried to accommodate her wishes by doing everything I could to keep her daily life on track. Anyone trying to do this now will understand how thin this stretches your daily functioning. Being there for everyone, spouse, kids, grandkids and life’s many necessities, is very difficult.
Here are a few tips that helped me determine it was time for her to move to a safer environment.
- Mom had kidney disease and Alzheimer’s disease. She didn’t like Meals on Wheels and she needed a special diet. Mom started eating foods past their prime and would make herself sick.
- She was not taking her medications correctly, even with a pill case to make it easier.
- She was not keeping up with her grooming as she always had. She was a proud lady whose appearance meant a great deal to her. Any attempts to encourage bathing produced anger.
- She did not want to give up driving even though it was apparent she should not be driving. This problem was solved when she was sick with kidney problems and could not get her license renewed.
- My mom’s personality changed. She was a tough lady but always loving and enjoyed having company. She started becoming irritated and felt I was not giving her enough attention. My husband and I were the only ones caring for her needs from a blended family of six. The loving, happy-to-be-with-family mom I knew confused me with my sister, which she had never done.
These behaviors were not my mom. My mother’s doctor advised that she needed to be cared for in a better and safer environment in long-term care housing. Your loved one will have similar signs to tell you they need help. It is a difficult decision to make this life-changing transition, but when the well-being of your loved one is at stake, it has to be done. You must love them enough to keep them safe and ensure their personal and medical needs are addressed when their mind can no longer make the right choices.
Please work with your doctor and care team to make a decision that works for your family. If you are struggling to make a decision, visit alz.org or call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900. The Association can help you consider your options and create a care plan.