Yesterday, I spent hours pouring over old research and talking to people who have walked this road before. I made a list of all the facilities that have been referred to me by friends who have had loved one in those facilities. My hours for verbal inquiries are limited because my shadow is always within earshot...and, believe me, he is listening. One woman I spoke with warned me that just because your loved one has gone to a “home” doesn’t mean the troubles are over. Her husband, who can still dial a phone, calls her at night telling her he’s cold. He doesn’t understand to press the button for the nurse’s station, so he calls her at home. Then, SHE has to call the nurse’s station to have them give him another blanket. She also cautioned me not to make my decision thinking it will be a longterm thing. Her husband was in an assisted living facility and the first time he fell, he was 911’d to the hospital and then told they would not be able to take him anymore. She was left in a scramble to find a nursing home “pronto”.
Another woman, who is walking parallel to me suggested a “short stay” option. There are several facilities that offer 30 day stays. That way the caregiver could have 30 days of respite to regroup. Full time caregiving might be doable if the caregiver could look forward to a couple of 30 respites per year.
I also received a very informative website for caregivers. http://guidinglightsnc.org/GuidingLights/Home.html This website offers all types of information and support; from medicare/medicaid information to whether you need a geriatric care manager (GCM) to help with decision making.
Before going into my first “home” today, I sat in the parking lot talking to my daughter on the phone. She and I were both crying because I told that her daddy’s big blue eyes were so happy to see me this morning. She said...”and he gave those eyes to me.". She wants me to come back to Raleigh so that she can visit her dad. She’s deathly afraid that he’ll be in a place where he is just lined up in a wheelchair in the hall. “I know, I responded. And who will read him the paper in the morning?"
Interestingly enough, today’s visit was a to facility in Jacksonville. NO WAY, JOSE! This was an assisted living facility but gave me the feel of a full on nursing home. The halls were lined with fragile patients in wheelchairs with no one interacting with them. I walked in asked the front desk for a tour. I asked if they had a special memory care unit and she said, “No, everyone is intermingled.” I saw how crowded it was and before the sales director could get out to me, I said, “You know. this is just too big. Thank you.” and left.
So, there ya have it. The first visit. NO!
Tomorrow, I have a friend making the visits with me. I’ve got my list ready. My questions ready. My emotional armor on. It’s on to day two.