I’m going to start this one out with something that should go without saying: This is my opinion, based on my experience(s). Yours will be, I’m sure, totally different. Any advice I give is done so with the intent of possibly helping someone else who is – or will be – going through a similar situation. I wasn’t paid to endorse any of the items listed below. It’s just what we bought, and thought it might help you. What you do in your situation, will be your decision, based on your situation.
I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve written. But, honestly, I just haven’t had the time, or energy, to do just one more thing that I ‘should’ do. If you know me, or have read some of my previous blogs, you know that my sweet Mom has dementia. It has slowly, but surely, taken over most of my life. Not because I am her sole caregiver, but, because I feel I need to be here for her and my Dad as much as I can, while I can. I don’t think it’s fair to leave my Dad here with her 24/7 without giving him some sort of break from her. That may sound like it’s a really cruel thing to say about my own Mother, but, you try dealing with someone who is confused about pretty much everything, sees and talks to people who aren’t there, can’t get thoughts across, is stubborn as a mule, (ha!), and falls up to two to three times a week, and see how quickly you need a break. I’m not here all the time, I have a job, and I get frustrated with her. But, for the most part, my Dad is extremely patient with her. He has his moments, but, for the most part, it’s because he loves her more than he loves himself, that he takes care of her every need. Which, at 87, can’t be easy.
In this post, I thought I’d give you some ideas about what you might be facing if you’re in a similar situation. That being, keeping your loved one at home with you for as long as possible, before having to place them in a facility to take care of things you’re no longer able to do. First, let me say, get help. There are agencies that help, and are paid through Social Security. Do your research on the internet, you’ll find a lot of them. We lucked out and got some wonderful people from Willowbrook Home Health. They will come out and review your situation and send the help needed. (At least that’s how it worked for us). Every single person we have worked with from Willowbrook is top-notch and so very nice. They genuinely care for their patients. They will advise you as to the equipment you will need to get to make your home easier for your loved one to live in.
I have to say, too, that your loved one must be willing to cooperate with the things you get for them. As I said earlier, my Mom is quite stubborn, and does exactly what she wants to do, and doesn’t listen to us much any more. I have to smile at this, because it lets us know that my Mom is ‘still in there’, somewhere. So, she doesn’t always use the things we’ve gotten for her. We haven’t gotten her a walker of some kind because we know that she will absolutely refuse to use it. (Can you say, “prissy”?!) 🙂
These are things WE were told we needed. Your situation may be different. And, make it easy on yourself, don’t run all over town trying to find things. Order them from Amazon. If you don’t have Prime, it might be worth getting it so you can get things to your home quicker. (If you’re interested, you can use AmazonSmile, which allows a small portion of what you spend to be donated to a charity of your choice).
1.) Car Assistance Handle. This is one of those handy-dandy handles that fits in the inside of an open car door. In actuality, my Mom hasn’t needed this too much, but, I think it’ll come more in handy for my Dad. They vary in price, but you can expect to pay $10-$25 for one. I got lucky and found a kit that had three different items for car assistance items in it. It’s no longer available, or I would give you the link.
2.) Tub Transfer Bench. You’ll need this to get them safely in and out of the tub.
3.) Gait Belt. This can be a wonderful thing to help you assist someone who is unsteady on their feet to walk, and not fall. If you want to see how to put it on, this, (according to the comments), is the best video out there. If you’re curious as to exactly what it is, watch the video in the link above, and it should explain everything.
4.) Hand-Held Shower Device. You may already have something like this. We didn’t, and totally LOVE this one.
These last few items weren’t recommended by the staff who come to check in on my Mom. But, they’ve definitely helped us.
5.) Bedside Commode. Because walking becomes increasingly difficult, you learn quickly that this is a good thing to have around when they can’t get to the bathroom fast enough.
6.) Self-Adhesive Wrap Bandages. I don’t care who you are, these are a pretty handy thing to have. My Dad needs them more than Mom, though. He likes to put band-aids with ointment on all the time when he gets a cut or scrape. (He’s always ‘playing in the dirt’ or puttering in the garage). Because he’s still pretty active, they don’t stay on too well. But, wrap it up with some of this, and it’s not going anywhere! 🙂 There are bigger, and smaller, boxes of these bandages. This one was just a pretty good deal, so I got it. I’ll probably give a few rolls away.
7.) Stove Knob Covers. Oh, my goodness. I can’t tell you the peace of mind these have given me! Sometimes, Mom gets up in the middle of the night and starts ‘cooking’. Most of the time she just fills up pots/pans with water and sets them on the stove. But, recently, I heard her fall, and ran into the kitchen to pick her up. As I picked her up, I noticed she had turned on two or three of the stove eyes. I knew right then that I had to find something to prevent her from doing it again. A friend at work suggested these. I couldn’t wait to get them home! Because dementia patients at this stage don’t ‘learn new tricks’, she’s not able to figure out how they work and turn the knob to heat the eye.
8.) Paper Medicine Cups. You know what these are, they’re the little paper cups you can get at Wendy’s or Arby’s for sauce. As Mom has gotten worse, she’s having more and more trouble taking her pills. (When she takes them. Again, stubborn!) 🙂 So, I figured, for a little bit of nothin’, I’ll see if these will help.
9.) Door Chime/Alarm. These have helped with peace of mind, too. You’ll find that you just can’t be with them every second of the time you’re home. And, people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s can wander if given half a chance. Thankfully, my Mom has only wandered off once without us knowing. Talk about being freaked out! But, these door chimes are loud. (I muted it with gauze, but then my Dad couldn’t hear it, even standing right in front of it. So I had to take it off). So, once installed, you should be able to hear it from anywhere in the house when the door is opened.
It’s a shame I couldn’t think of one more thing to round out the list…but that’s just my OCD talking.
My advice is to do as much as you can, as often as you can. They’re not going to be here forever, and you don’t want to look back later, and wish you’d been there more often, or done more because you were ‘too busy’. If you’re not one of the main care givers, please make sure you help without having to be asked. I can assure you, if you don’t, it makes it hard on those who are there more often. I’m in a very unique position in that I don’t have my own family, or my own home, to take care of. So, I have moved in with my parents, and as difficult as that can be sometime, (especially at my age), I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s mutually beneficial. I’m lucky, too, that the company I work for is a family-owned business, who understands that family is very important. To date, they’ve been very flexible the few times I’ve had to take time off to take care of one of my parents.
I knew when I moved home to Tennessee from Georgia that the Lord had a reason, and that His timing was perfect. I didn’t realize at the time just HOW perfect His timing was, though. I was lucky enough to be there before my Mom got too bad, but it’s been really hard having a front row seat to see the steady decline of both my parents; the tears in my Dad’s eyes as he finally realizes that he just can’t do everything for Mom any more, and that it’s time to move her to a facility. I don’t know what this house is going to be like without her. She’s always been here. I do know that the only way we’ll get through it is to lean on each other, but more importantly, lean on God. Maybe once we get her comfortable in a wonderful place, I can get him to go back to church. I know he misses it.
Y’all, please pray for us, and everybody else out there who’s dealing with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. We appreciate it.