Tears flowed from her eyes as she said, “I just don’t know what to say to her, how do I tell her that I can’t continue to care for her at home…”
The hair salon is where all of life’s great challenges are discussed and debated – empathetic listeners offer sage advice and comfort, regardless of the challenge. A good laugh, a good cry.
On this particular day, it was my turn to offer guidance, comfort and a box of tissues. The eldest daughter of four siblings was faced with “delivering” her parents to their new home – assisted living memory care. Both parents were in their 90’s and both suffered from memory loss and other ailments.
Both parents needing support with the most basic of needs.
“I tried,” she said, explaining the details of how she had carefully selected a rental home near to her own home. Shehad clearly run herself ragged trying to provide care, comfort and support. “It’s just not working.”
And there it was, the admission, the stop sign or, in her case, perhaps the white flag of surrender. It certainly was not the lack of heartfelt willingness for the undertaking or the resources available. It was, in fact, the combination of overwhelming tasks and compounding needs that grew insurmountable when her mother had decided to walk from the home, resulting in her being missing for an uncomfortable amount of time.
This story is not unique. Of course, its characters are individuals with their own history, needs and preferences. However, this is a story repeated every day for weary caregivers who must raise the white flag in hopes of support and a solution.
When family members reach this turning point there are several things that can help. We all want the very best care for our loved ones. Each of us believes wholeheartedly that we are best suited to provide that care – which is true, for a while. Then comes the tipping point.
In the example above, a loved one’s wandering can be the scariest aspect of caregiving for the memory impaired. No one is a “wanderer,” until they are. A caregiver can and should be proactive by reaching out to the local police department and asking about their Silver Alert program. In recent months, there has been a focus on registering any senior with memory impairment within the police database, along with a digital picture that can be shared in an instant – time matters, and this program is designed to save lives.
But wandering may not be the only tipping point.
A caregiver’s health may suffer due to their singular focus on their patient, with a disregard for their own health and wellness. Often this crisis comes in the form of effects of sleep deprivation. Dementia causes a disruption in the normal sleep patterns that allow for a good night’s sleep. The caregiver might wake several times during the night to assist their loved one, keeping them safe and helping them get back to sleep.
If you have ever been robbed of sleep on a regular basis, you know lack of sufficient and quality rest can wear on one’s health and psyche. How can you provide the “best care” if you’re not at the top of your game? How long can you stay healthy without adequate sleep?
A memory care community can offer a secure environment that provides the necessary safety around the clock, with a new shift of trained professionals arriving every eight hours. It can provide a social aspect with other residents in a non-judgmental environment with appropriate activities interspersed throughout the day. Every day.
Most of all, what a memory care community offers is a return to your identity by removing the mantel of caregiver and allowing you to reclaim the more confident role of husband, wife, son, daughter, sister, brother.
At Harbor Point at Centerville, we have been dedicated to expert memory care for over 20 years. Everything about our environment and quality of care is done with purpose – and that is providing the best care for your loved one. Once a family has made their decision to truly provide their loved one with the best care possible, they often tell us that they wished they had made this decision sooner.
Throughout our region there are non-profit organizations dedicated to providing caregivers with essential support
at no cost, in the form of hotlines, care planning, support groups and expert advice. If you’re a caregiver, please
seek out this assistance or call us and we can help locate professionals in your region.
Harbor Point at Centerville
22 Richardson Road, Centerville, MA 02632