A Gut-Wrenching Decision

There comes a point in every caregiver’s journey where they must make a decision. An excruciating, gut-wrenching  decision. They need a break. The years have taken their toll and the caregiver’s health has declined. If money were no object, then this would be easier. We could put Dad in a posh place with stellar reviews, compassionate staff, and all his needs would be met. But money is an object, as it is for thousands of caregivers. Getting older is expensive, especially when you have Alzheimer’s.

There are facilities in Atlanta that offer respite care for this very situation. But they require a 10-14 day minimum stay and can be $250 per day. Some of these places are willing to negotiate a lower price and fewer days, but it adds up quickly.

 

Then there are the horror stories everyone hears of elder abuse and neglect. There are facilities where residents are left in soiled diapers for hours, their possessions are stolen and the number of staff is grossly inadequate to manage the number of residents on a normal day or night, much less during an emergency evacuation.

 

There’s also my Father. This isn’t like sending your child to summer camp where they understand how many days it will be before they see their parents again. Routines in familiar places are absolutely essential for people with Alzheimer’s to be in the best frame of mind. If my Father’s routine is changed, he grows more confused, even when he’s at home. So what will happen if we take him to a facility for a few days? Will he think he’s been abandoned? Will he grow anxious or depressed? And when I go to visit him, will he beg me to take him with me? How will I be able to tear myself away?

A few years ago, an overnight hospital stay was required when my Father had stents put it in heart. After the procedure, while he was still asleep from the anesthesia, I took Mom home. I needed a quick nap before heading back to the hospital, where I planned to spend the night on the couch in his room. On my return to the hospital, Mom phoned to say Dad called her and he was madder than a wet hen.

 

“I want to go home!” he told her. “Tell Angie to come here and get me out of this place!”

 

Maybe he was scared when he woke up in a strange place. Maybe he forgot when they told him I was on my way. Maybe he had a negative reaction to the anesthesia. Whatever the reason, he was not a happy camper and had yelled at his nurse. He made her wheel him to the door of his room so he would be able to see me as soon as I came around the corner.

When I got there, I tried to console him and explained that he would have to spend the night, but I was right there and would stay with him until he was discharged. I wasn’t going anywhere. The anger melted away and he felt remorse for yelling at his nurse. He kept apologizing to her and I told him it was ok, that she understood.

 

That was 6 years ago. Now Dad is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and gets confused when talking on the phone. How is he going to respond if he stays in a facility and neither of us is there to comfort him?

 

This is the gut-wrenching part. We need to sleep soundly, without listening for him to get up in the middle of the night. We need to eat a meal without having to cut up his food and ensure he takes small bites so he won’t aspirate. We need a break from cleaning up messes. We need to breathe and regroup and feel somewhat normal again. But will I be able to do that when he’s at a facility?

And if we do place him in a facility for a few days, how is that going to affect him once he’s home? Will he regress further? Will he cling more tightly to us, making sure we always stay in his sight?

 

Since my Father is still on hospice, they have contracts with four facilities in the Atlanta area where he can stay for five days without cost. After researching them, I discovered two of the four facilities received poor reviews and the remaining two seemed average. Thanks to websites like Caring.com, which is founded and operated by caregivers, you can learn a lot about any facility in America.

 

I wish this story had a warm, fuzzy ending ~ like how God dropped thousands of dollars into our lap so Mom and I could hire a fabulous caregiver to stay at home with Dad while the two of us took a cruise to the Caribbean where we slept like logs, ate fish till we grew gills and came home with tanned skin. But this isn’t one of those TV shows where things like that happen. This is real life. This is our life and we’re still making this decision.

 

So I’ll tell you what I’ve done. I asked the wonderful hospice people to see if one of those two decent facilities had any availability. I’ve asked God to direct our steps and give us wisdom about where to take Dad. And then I sat down and made a list of all the things I want if we place Dad in a facility. Like protection, nothing stolen from his personal belongings, compassionate staff, correct medication given at correct time, Dad wouldn’t be anxious or depressed, etc. It’s a pretty long list. And I’m praying over every single thing on that long list.

Why? Because God is God over everything, including this. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know that every single one of God’s promises is true. Never will He leave me, never will He forsake me. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him. Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.

 

Yes, it’s a gut-wrenching decision. But God is good. And I can’t wait to see what He does with this.

12 thoughts on “A Gut-Wrenching Decision”

  1. Hey my friend, God already has your steps and your Mom and Dad’s steps ordained and ordered by Him so with your prayers, He Will show you what to do. God will place the right people around him to keep him safe–Psalms 91…and He will give you wisdom (as you already do : ) ) and He will place every person in His life and every detail to work for your Dad’s good! I know you know we have a GOOD Father and He sees every detailed need. You know how to cling to your Father’s ARM to seek His help in this decision. Shalom and a Peace that will pass all understanding throughout the whole process! You will have Peace and Rest for both you and your Mom….refreshing and strength over your spirits is my prayer for you both!
    Love you and miss you so much!

  2. Praying supernatural shalom peace and wisdom for you, Angie.
    Also praying for your Mom and Dad that the Holy Spirit will send overwhelming joy, that outweighs any negative feelings, as your Dad is released. Also, that the voice of the enemy would be silenced, and there would be no guilt. ♥️

      1. Only human to have all these things running through your head. We know nothing is like being at home. You have put your life on hold to care for your Dad. And be there for your Mom. It’s time to think of you. Your mom to take care of herself. I’ve seen so many times caregivers who forsake their own health to take care of their loved ones. You still love him and I know that he knows that in his spirit . It’s only his mind that is affected. His spirit knows all that you have done for him. Most of all you have loved . That’s all we all really can do for each other. is love!
        As you have asked and seek for God for wisdom , know He will give ALL that you need.
        I speak God’s peace over you and your Mom.
        God loves him , He will protect Him. He will surround him with Godly caregivers. He will lead you to the right place. Love you my dear friend!

  3. Many prayers for you and Jane, Angie! You are at the point that you have to think of your Mom,too, or you may lose her. I could hear the desperation in her voice when we talked a couple of days ago. You are both exhausted and need some rest. May the Lord guide you to the right decisions!

  4. Every word in this deeply resonates with me, Angie! My mother is now living in a personal care home after being in another larger facility. I am learning to make the best decisions I can at any time, knowing that I will make mistakes along the way. As I learn, I will do better, letting go of regret that caregivers often experience. Like you, my journey continues to teach me so many things about myself, my mother, our family and my faith! I know that God holds us all close and is near to the brokenhearted when there are no words or solutions…only love and faith! Thanks for being the voice for all of us who are trying to do the best we can for our loved ones! I am praying for you and ask that you also pray for me!

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