Doing What’s Right For Mom: Alzheimer’s Care
It came as no surprise when we were told that Mom had Alzheimer’s disease. For many years, our mother, Helen, had feared being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease; she often said she’d rather be told she had cancer than be told she had Alzheimer’s disease. That’s how much she dreaded her destiny.
Once the warning flags were raised, her decline seemed rapid and certain. Despite our efforts to control her medications, there were problems–sometimes too much, sometimes not at all. Over time, she began dressing in reverse layers, losing her balance, and falling more frequently. Then came the most frightening symptom: she began to wander out of her home, becoming lost and confused and escaping our search for frightening lengths of time. We were advised to think of finding a facility to provide her care.
One of our sources, the Alzheimer’s Association, was particularly helpful in providing support and information on alternative methods of care. The road to making that decision and the path that followed was riddled with many difficult situations. While everyone agreed that Mom needed help, there remained a great deal of controversy amongst family members. I learned that negative reactions toward the caregiver are not uncommon from those who are not directly involved in providing care, do not understand the need for an advanced directive or the responsibility it assigns, and/or do not understand the disease. I had to accept professional advice and move forward knowing that I was, in my opinion, doing what was in the best interest of my Mother.
Selecting the initial facility was the result of careful research and on-site tours. My sister and I toured many facilities using a 3-4 page form we had developed to help us note our first-hand observations related to staff/care providers, clinical practices, nutrition, hygiene, motivational activities, environment, privacy, and respect. Then, less than a year ago, I became aware of an assisted living facility being constructed near my home that would include an Alzheimer’s unit. I again did some in-depth research, made inquiries, and searched the internet. My brother and I invited other family members to join us on a tour with facility staff before deciding to relocate Mom.
My brother and I decided to make the move to Brightview of Catonsville about 6 months ago, knowing the transition would require an adjustment by our mother. I have only praise for what I’ve witnessed thus far. Staff have been sensitive, caring, attentive, and do what they can to motivate each resident according to his/her abilities. The director of the Wellspring unit is one of the most caring, patient, and gentle ladies I have ever met and is ideally suited to care for the elderly. During visits to see Mom, it is not unusual to see staff actively engaged in activities with the residents, speaking to them in a respectful and gentle way.
There is little doubt that the move to was a good choice. With the care she receives and the new medications, Mom has improved. I will always worry about her, but the care I’ve observed at Brightview has greatly reduced my level of concern. We can celebrate the fact that Mom will soon reach the golden age of 85 and continues do very well; she still has her sense of humor and still demonstrates that she’s a “take charge” lady.