Wednesday Workshop – Next Steps: How to Move Forward After Placing a Loved One (Part 2)
Hello and welcome to our Wednesday Workshop Caregiver Conversation.
Elayne: Hi! This is Elayne Forgie with the Alzheimer’s care resource center and I’m here with Becky to continue part two of our Caregiver Conversation on taking the next steps after placing your loved one in an assisted living community or skilled nursing center. So, last time we met we talked a little bit about what caregivers can expect on that first day, when actually moving your loved one, and then what to expect the first week. So, now what we’re going to talk a little bit about is what to expect that first month.
Becky: Once we get past the initial shock, the confusion, so on and so forth, and I’m learning to deal with the guilt of having placed my mother in a nursing home. What can I expect the first month? What do I need to do to make this transition easier? And what do I do with my life?
Elayne: Right. Caregivers find that once they’re able to work through some of the emotions that that whole day and week emcompass – that new emotions come into play and those emotions maybe guilt but in a different way – maybe guilt for starting to have fun again. Guilty for feeling relieved that you’re not still thrust in this 24/7 caregiving role. I think that the first month is where caregivers can begin to establish a new routine because usually that first week they’re telling you to perhaps limit your visits. That gives you an opportunity to really sit and think about how do you want this to look going forward.
Becky: Ok. I’m looking at going back to work full-time. Previously, obviously, I couldn’t do that I was taking care of my mother but I want to go back to work full-time but that’ll really limit the amount of time that I’m able to visit or spend with her. What should I expected? Is that going to be a problem for her? Is that going to be too confusing or make her angry?
Elayne: For caregivers that either do go back to work to some degree or you just find that they need to limit their visits, it’s so important for caregivers to remember that it is the quality of the time that you’re spending with your loved one not the quantity. Their sense of time is not like ours. They’re just happy that you’re there. The time that you’re spending with them and what you’re using and doing during that time is far more important than how many hours your there. As a caregiver you’re going to go through a role change. So when you became this full-time caregiver for your mom, you almost in many instances, stop being a daughter and become a nurse full-time. So now that your loved one has been placed your role will change again and we try to work with caregivers to get them to a point where when they visit you’re the daughter again. You know, you’re not her nurse, your not changing her diapers. You’re there to be her daughter and although she may not recognize you as her daughter, you know she’s your mom and you can begin to transition in this next step to once again sitting with her and enjoying your time with her as her daughter and that’s huge for caregivers when they take these steps. Same with spouses going back to being a wife or a husband.
Becky: And still, all along, still dealing that the guilt of putting my mom and home to begin with and some of that is the fact that ok, now I put my mom somewhere and to some extent I feel like I failed. I feel like quit, gave up on her and gave up on taking care of her even though I know consciously it was to a point where was no longer safe or reasonable to have her home and she needed round-the-clock care. But those things are still coming up – that guilt and now I’m going out like I’m doing things and enjoying my life. Not that I didn’t enjoy being with my mom but that was a full-time job, a 24/7 job and now I’m going out and doing other things and there it is again – there’s that whole guilt issue that comes up again and even to the point of after months now I’m well-rested and maybe I bring my mom back home again.
Elayne: Oh boy! So, all that is normal and all of those emotions are normal. Again, this is why we say that this whole next step is a process and this is part of that post placement process and you’re only 30 days and so to speak. As your life settles back down into a normal routine, and you’re sleeping well or better, a lot of caregivers think, “ok well, she’s not adjusting or she’s not just as quickly as I thought. I just need to bring her home.” So that’s when we want to put on the brakes and get back in your coaching or attend support groups to get grounded again. Because I think all caregivers at some point in this journey on these next steps do second-guess their decision depending upon how that placement is going. But what I tell caregivers – and this is so important – is you made the decision after you gathered all the information and it was a good informed decision. Your quality of life has probably improved since placing your loved one. We know that in most instances, if not all, the person with memory loss their quality of life improves too. So in many ways this is a gift. You know it’s hard for caregivers to understand that sometimes but when you place your loved one sometimes it’s a gift. Their quality of life will improve. They’ll be around people like them. They’ll have some commonality of some shared opportunities to forge their own bonds and friendships and they’ll begin to establish a routine where, in time, they feel safe or they feel that this is where they need to be. And when you’re visiting with them some of the emotions and fears and things that brought pain at first will diminish because as time goes on they will forget some of what occurred on that day. You may not, but they will. So, it’s a gift.
Becky: I understand that. I can see where it’s not only a gift to my mom – that she has all these opportunities and that she’s someplace that she’s well taken care of around-the-clock but really I’m giving myself a gift too.
Elayne: thank you! And say that again to all the caregivers watching.
Becky: really you’re giving yourself a gift also. You’re not only doing the best thing for your loved one but you’re doing the best thing for you and for your family.
Elayne: And you stay a healthier caregiver that way. The Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center is here to help caregivers be as healthy as they can on this caregiving journey where they’re caring for their loved one at home or whether or not their loved ones living in an assisted living community or skilled nursing center. We invite you to call us at (561) 588-4545. Make an appointment to come in and meet with one of our care managers for complimentary Coaching for Caregiver session and we can work with you on any individual challenges you might be facing. From all of us at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center and Becky – thank you so much for watching and we’ll see you next week!