Why am I talking about this? As your Alzheimer's patient journeys through various stages of the disease, you as the primary caretaker will be faced with many decisions that will affect how the patient is to be cared for. Each family will go through their own process depending on various factors. Key decision factors will rely on what stage of Alzheimer's your patient is at, but most likely you will find yourself answering to the following general questions: 1. where will the patient continue to live 2. what can the patient do on his/her own 3. how much care does the patient need.
Whatever decisions you decide to make, it will mean "change" for the patient, and you will need some kind of buy-in. I can also guarantee you that if you think implementing your decision will be easy, you will be sorely disappointed.
Currently our family is going through a change process, albeit in early stage. My sister Sue called me yesterday with frustration in her voice. The story goes like this.
Dad is the primary caregiver for mom. They literally spend 24 by 7 together. Apart from going out for medical appointments and a weekly outing to church and weekly dinner outing with my family, their socializing with the outside world is very limited. Sue who is the other caregiver for mom wants to provide respite care for dad. So she looked into a Korean speaking, local daycare facility for mom and excitedly told dad that they should go in for an appointment. Now realize, what she did was to narrow down exactly what my mom needs. The reaction Sue got from both mom and dad were quite deflating for her. Dad's response was full of skepticism and doubt. "What is this place about? Where is it? The questions were endless, and what Sue thought she got from dad was a flat out "No". Mom's response was more of a question, "why do I have to go anywhere? I don't want to go anywhere full of old and sick people.".
So now my sister and I have a challenge on our hands. We have to convince my 78 year old, ex-military officer dad that not only does he need respite care, mom needs to be in a social setting. We have to convince my 73 year old mom with Alzheimer's that she needs to separate from her husband for a few hours a day and meet new people.
Wow, doesn't this sound like a challenge of the month? Well folks, I volunteered to help Sue with this change process. I will be having many conversations with mom and dad, hoping to influence them with this critical, yet necessary step in caring for mom, as well as dad.
I will keep you posted with progress.