There is no easy answer to this question. Each family situation is different. The time to move mom rests on a lot of different factors. Likewise, each type of dementia has different behaviors. Families struggle to do their best. Sharon was one of those family caregivers who tried really hard.Sharon did her very best. But, she called me in tears one day.
“I’m not sure what to do!” she said. Dad has gotten out of control. But he’s my dad and I feel like it’s my responsibility to take care of him. I have to work. So, I brought in a caregiver to help. Well, he didn’t like that at all. He began throwing things. And he even ripped the TV off the wall. I brought him to the doctor. And we’re changing his medications but so far it hasn’t made much of a difference.” she wailed.
“On top of that, getting caregivers to stay with his behavior is quite a challenge. My boss has been patient with me but I can tell she’s getting frustrated too. I have to keep taking off of work to take care of this issue and that issue. I’m about to pull my hair out! I just don’t want to stick him anywhere. I really care about and love my dad. But this isn’t the dad I know. This dementia has really changed him”
A Difficult Form Of Dementia
Sharon’s dad had a form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia. And it can be a very challenging type to deal with. In frontotemporal dementia, sometimes called Pick’s Disease, the person afflicted will exhibit a lot of uncontrolled behavior. The disease causes progressive deterioration of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain These are the areas that affect language, behavioral control, emotion, and decision-making. As such, someone with this type of dementia can easily become out of control.
Sharon never took caregiving 101. Probably because it’s not offered anywhere. Like many adult children, she was thrown into this role- sink or swim. But she’s doing her very best and she comes from a very loving place.And, It’s difficult. She doesn’t have the training or the tools to be able to handle the situation that she’s dealing with. Also, she hasn’t found the right in-home caregiver that can also deal with that situation. On top of this, the cost of In-Home Care is going up all the time. She can only afford a few hours a day and even that can be a stretch.
“I had no idea it could cost so much!” Sharon told me. “ At this rate dad will run out of money really quick and then what will we do? Dad isn’t safe alone. I have to have somebody with Dad all day. I can’t afford to pay them all night also. But I need some sleep. Sometimes Dad’s up wandering the house all night. The other night he turned on the stove, left it on and went back to bed. I’m afraid he’s going to catch the house on fire. Something has to change.”
No Family to Help
On top of that Sharon is an only child. She has no siblings to help and no other close family members that are willing or able. It’s all on her shoulders. So, Sharon has been toying with the idea of finding a Memory Care Place for Dad. Is it time to move mom? She has several friends who have found places for their aging parents. And they told her it made all the difference in the world. But Sharon feels like she’s letting dad down.
Here are a few signs that indicate it’s time to look for a place.
#1 When the Cost of Home Care is Becoming Too Much and You Worry That You’ll Run Out of Money.
If you really need around the clock care you could be looking at $12,000 or more each month. Unless you have unlimited resources, you have to consider the possibility that you could run out of money. If that happens, your options are really limited. In Texas, your only choice would be a nursing home that accepts Medicaid. Most are not equipped to handle someone with behavioral issues. Furthermore, this is a disease that has been known to go on for years. This is a sign that it may be time to look for another option.
#2 Your Work is Being Affected
This is a disease that affects the whole family. If you need to keep your job and caregiving responsibilities are affecting your productivity you need to find a better solution. If you lose your job and cannot pay your bills, your problems will just compound.
#3 Your Health Is Declining
Likewise, if you begin to have health issues due to the additional stress of caring for someone it’s time to look for another option. A caregiver who ends up needing care will not be able to help the one they love. And this is a common occurrence!
#4 No Family Support
If you don’t have any family support and you can’t afford full-time caregiver support, it’s time to look for other options. The family who is never or rarely available to help should not be part of the decision-making process.
#5 Behavioral Issues and Wandering
When you don’t know how or are unable to handle behavioral issues this is a red flag. Likewise, if you are worried about wandering this is a sign that you should consider other options. You want your loved one to be well taken care of, right? Accept the fact that you may not be the best person to deliver that care.
Memory Care Facilities May Be a Better Option
If you are thinking it may be time to move mom you need to know what is available. In Texas, there are two types of memory care facilities. There are small facilities, or Memory Care Homes that care for 16 or fewer residents. And larger facilities care for over 16 residents with most ranging from 30 to 75 residents. Many of the larger facilities are divided into sections. Each section will deal with a different level of the disease that people are in. One of the major differences between the two types of Memory Care facilities is the number of trained caregivers.
Smaller Memory Care Homes usually have twice the number of trained caregivers than you find in the larger facilities. This can mean a much higher quality of care. Caregivers have more time to spend a little one-on-one time with each resident. This can be very important for people with dementia. Many people with this disease may need constant comforting and monitoring.
What To Look For In A Memory Care Facility
The first thing you want to look for is smiles.
If both the care staff and the residents are smiling that’s a good thing. Keep in mind, however, some of the residents may not be able to smile due to their disease. However, I have found that if the care staff is smiling and seems to be having a good time chances are the residents are also.
The second thing you want to think about and ask about is training.
How often are caregivers trained? Also, find out how and where are they trained. Furthermore, what kind of training do they receive? And finally, who does the training and what additional support is in place for caregivers. This is very important. Having caregivers who understand how the disease works and have some tools available to deal with different behavioral issues will make life a lot easier for everyone. Training is the key to a healthy environment in a memory care home or facility.
What is Their Philosophy?
And last but not least you want to talk to the person in charge. You need to learn about their philosophy to care for people with dementia. Also, you want to know what experience they and their staff have with a particular kind of dementia your loved one is suffering from.
Sheila struggled with putting her Mom in a Memory Care Facility. However, after she did, she wondered why it took her so long to make this decision.
“Mom seems to enjoy life again. The days used to be a struggle as I tried to care for her as best I could. It was painful for both of us. She didn’t like me “bossing her”, as she said. But I didn’t like feeling like I was bossing her around. I was just trying to keep her safe. It was not a good situation. Since moving mom, I see that it was really the right decision. The memory care home where I placed her sends me regular pictures and updates in between my visits. She’s happy and she’s well cared for, of that I’m sure. And now I get to be her daughter again. I’m not “Miss Bossy”, as she used to call me. I come to visit and we make art together, watch movies and just enjoy being together.”