If you have a loved one, parent or spouse that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia, you may be searching for a community that will better serve their care needs than you are physically, mentally or emotionally able to do.
When your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, they may still be able to manage their own activities of daily living or ADLs. They may have lucid moments where they are appear "normal". Unfortunately, their forgetfulness can create unsafe situations, including wandering and elopement. Because of their unsafe behavior, you may determine that you are no longer able to care for them on your own. You may have determined that your home is not safe for this individual and the person would be better cared for in an assisted living community that serves seniors with dementia.
Once you decide that a community is the best choice for you and your loved one, then preparing yourself for the visit is critical to successfully locating the right community. Mindset is the most important thing to achieving a successful result. Alzheimer’s Disease is a downward slope that leads to an inevitable end and not a single place in time. It is devastating to watch this disease erase the person you have loved for many years. You hang on to every lucid moment, hoping it will last. On the outside, the person looks the same, but in action and behavior, you do not recognize this person.
Most people feel some sort of guilt because they believe that they should be able to take on the role of caregiver. This guilt traps them in an emotional loop, forcing them to question whether the dementia is really that bad. Does this person actually require professional caregivers? Do they really need to move to an assisted living, and what about that "locked door"? You tell yourself that they hate closed spaces, even though you acknowledge that the communities you are looking at are spacious and your loved one never even leaves the living room at home. You know you cannot properly provide the care and services needed for your loved one any more. You wonder if the community is safe and if your loved one will like to live there.
The battle rages in your mind and you go through every possible scenario to accept or deny the fact that the person you love has Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. You are not alone, and this struggle is common. However, unless you can come to acceptance, then your process to choose the right community will be in vain. You need to have some form of acceptance that the person you love has Alzheimer’s Disease, the person afflicted with the disease will decline, losing physical function and mental ability, acknowledge there is no cure for the disease, that you have done your best but that sometimes, caring for a person until "death do us part" means that someone else is providing the actual care and you are managing the process. Remember, your parent needs you to be their child and your spouse needs you to be their spouse and not their caregiver.
Some memory care communities choose to only provide care for early-stage Alzheimer's disease residents. Their programs are geared to those folks who are still capable of performing their activities of daily living, have numerous moments of lucidity and are considered higher functioning. As a result of this, a tour through their community helps a person, already conflicted about placing their loved one in a secured environment, be in a better frame of mind. Unfortunately, this creates a misperception for the person touring; one that Alzheimer’s is "not so bad", and dad, mom or spouse will be able to live life normally but with some memory loss.
The challenge that families face with a community with this program model is that once a loved one moves on to the middle stages of dementia, they are no longer "suited" for that community and the resident is eventually asked to leave before they effect the feeling of the community. The resident is forced to transition, re-establish trust with new caregivers and become acclimated to a new environment and schedule. They are forced to do this when they no longer possess the understanding that they possessed in the early stage of the illness. This transition creates greater confusion and can trigger a more rapid cognitive decline; not to mention how the move can affect the whole family.
Osprey Lodge is not that type of community. We utilize the early stages of dementia to establish trust with our residents, building what will become the foundation of a long-term relationship as our residents decline from Alzheimer’s Disease. Depending on how many folks are in the latter stages of dementia at the time of a tour can certainly determine the feeling of the wing. Sometimes just the sight of many wheelchairs can be a put-off to folks looking for a home for their parent or spouse. You may be unable to relate to this stage in the disease and feel your parent "doesn't fit in".
The symptoms Alzheimer’s Disease presents can be uncomfortable to witness; especially if your parent or spouse is only in the early stages of the disease. Sometimes heads are bowed as residents fall asleep where they are sitting. Sometimes, the conversation becomes the catalyst for interactions that can lead to abusive displays of language and physical altercations between residents. Sometimes residents require hand feeding or extensive redirection when they are lost in a cognitive loop. Do not choose the community based on the other residents' conditions but rather, choose the community that demonstrates that they can manage you loved-ones care through the entirety of the illness. This disease will rob not only your loved one of their identity and abilities, but rob you and your family of future experiences.
Try and understand that although seeing people in mid to late stage dementia is difficult, your loved one will eventually arrive at this same destination and they will need the care that can only be provided by professionals who are experienced in all stages of the disease and manage it on a regular basis.
Because our residents receive their care from our experienced staff; built from a group of long-term dedicated associates, all working together seamlessly, they tend to stay with us for a long time. We provide care for our residents not just through the early stage of dementia but to the end of their lives. Our team faces the disease head on, at our residents' sides as they lose themselves to the illness. They accept the good, the bad and the sometimes, ugly that is inherent in Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.