I know how badly you feel. You’re telling yourself you’re a bad daughter — though you aren’t. You feel you’re failing your Mom, though you know she needs more care than you can manage.
And, you know what; she needs more care than the family can give. And that is the big issue. Not your guilt. Not your sense of failing your very own Mom. It’s the answer to the very simple question: does Mom need more care than one person can give?
And, let me remind you, that one person must be able to get a night’s sleep, to have time to herself, to be able to go out of the house, knowing Mom will be safe alone.
So, how do you find a good place? There are two ways to go — do all the research yourself, or get some expert help. Elder care placement agencies can do this job wonderfully well, as can care managers or other professionals in the field. Their service is often free, paid for by the successful placements they make.
These folks know the local resources, know good homes when they see them, know their field and will want you to have what you want for your Mom. Ask them to refer you to some of their happy clients, although these days, most have such testimonials on their websites.
If you decide to do it for yourself, get a listing of local care home and assisted livings in your area from your local senior services or Area Agency on Aging. Go to a local support group for caregivers, even your local Alzheimer’s Association support group because these guys know who the good guys are in your local care homes. They’ll warn you off and tell you who’s good. Even then, continue your own research.
Five Ways to Spot a Good Care Home:
1. It’s bright, clean and interesting, with plants, pets and warm-hearted staff;
2. The food looks so good you want to sit right down and eat it;
3. Each room is individually furnished from the resident’s own home;
4. Activities are interesting and appropriate — and, sorry, bingo and manicures are NOT activities;
5. The last inspection report has no major alarm issues.
Trust your instincts. It must feel good to you. Ask yourself, would my Mom fit in here and be okay? Do these people seem as if they’d value her and cherish her wisely. Could they make laugh, help her feel safe and let her also be herself? Each of those would be a very big yes.
Just because your Mom moves into a care home doesn’t mean she can’t come home to your house. You can bring her home any time you want to — no-one can stop you. You can take her out for lunch or to her own hairdresser. She can come home for festival times. You’ll know she’s doing well in her care home when she tired of your company and says, “I’ve got to get home now.”
And maybe you’d be surprised how often elders in care do say that. You see, old people know what maybe you don’t. That life isn’t always what you want but you get on with it anyway. That’s the wisdom of age.