My name is Louise, and I live in a small town in South Central Illinois. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight year ago. Five of the eight years she was able to live at home with my father and my sister. The past three years she has been in a nursing home.
My mother is 79 years old; she is in mid-to-late stage. The reason I am sending this e-mail is to address a sensitive yet vital subject of placing a parent in a long-term care facility and making sure your parent is receiving the right kind of care.
We recently moved our mother to a different facility, one that offers an Alzheimer unit with specialized care and a well-trained staff. I cannot emphasize this enough: a well-trained staff. Most nursing homes do not offer the proper kind of training for their staff to be able to deal effectively with an Alzheimer patient.
The health care industry needs to place more emphasis on this type of training. At the former health care facility she was in, their answer to everything was more medication, keep her doped up and she will be less trouble, They failed to realize that sleeping around the clock would cause her to become dehydrated, malnourished, as well as have urinary tract infections. One of the staff nurses, who we trusted, urged us not to move our mother, that it would be too disruptive for her. But when we heard that the nurse, who's husband has Alzheimer's and is in the same facility as our mother, decided to move him, we thought, why do we have to stay here?
Moving our mother has been her salvation. The exclusiveness of the Alzheimer unit has helped her to start having a better quality of life. If anyone is facing the agonizing decision of placing a parent in a long-term health care facility, I urge you to look for one that offers an Alzheimer's unit of specialized care. In a perfect world, things would go smoothly. But there is no perfect nursing home, but the need to stay proactive in your parents care is vital.
You may be led to believe that you have no say, but you do. My sister and I work full time, so we cannot spend hours in the nursing home. We have to have the trust in the facility that our mother's daily needs are being met. Not just food, clothing and shelter, but also the nurturing and genuine care that we would still be giving her, had we not lost her to this tragic disease.
Although the twinkle in her eye is fading, she still smiles and occasionally says a familiar name. We have the confidence that she is being cared for.