November 1st, 2014 8:36 AM
The folks that know me, know that supporting the caregivers is my passion. I hope the following guideline will help you in reaching a mindset when to place your Loved One in Long Term Care without any regrets. I am about to make two confessions. These are my only regrets as to how I handled my late wife's remaining months.
First, in the fall of 2011 I took my wife to both Saskatchewan (where she was from) on what was her final trip. I did everything for her enjoyment and for this I had no regrets. I did sense it would be her last trip to see her abandoned family homestead and not only her family that lived there but the folks she went to school with. The next trip was to Ontario (where I grew up) to re-visit my family members and places that were special in my life. I also took her to Niagara Falls (NF) where we went on our honeymoon as we had a very romantic walk involving the rain and an umbrella on that occasion in our life that was very special.
At NF there is also a Butterfly Conservatory where they are raised and is a thrill to visit. My wife LOVED butterflies and would buy clothing, tea towels, fridge magnets, crystal pendants to hang in a window, paintings and more, more, more. It was her passion in life. I decided to take her there and as I had been there numerous tims before, I started to drive there. Somehow, I got distracted and we drove right by it. After a while I realized what I had done but as we were well past it (stupid me!) I never turned around and went back. As I look at it now, it was a very foolish thing not to do as it is one of my regrets as this truly was her last trip.
So my point is this, if you want to do something important with or for your Loved One, do it now before it is too late. Be sure to see my posting on the thread dealing with End of Life as to how butterflies have created a bond with my wife since her passing.
My second regret involves the placement of Doreen in LTC. I wanted her to be at home with me as long as possible so I retired from working in the late summer of 2011. At that point, repeat, at that point I should have started placement as it can take up to a year or longer to get your loved one in LTC. It doesn't mean they will go in the day you start getting 'the system' going. Contact your doctor, Alberta Health Services local offices, your Local Alzheimer's Society for counselling and investigate what options locally are available to you. When the time actually comes for placement, it is usually the result of a CRISIS. This will be something over which you will have zero control. I am shocked by the number of Loved Ones in my local support group that have had a Loved One fall suffering an injury, have a heart issue,contemplate suicide, develop a health issue requiring hospitalization or even the caregiver experiencing an issue requiring medical care. When this happens it is all thrown onto a plate and it can be extremly overwhelming if you have not done some preperation. In my wife's case, she quit talking at 7:00 at night after which had been a very normal day. If you are in a health crisis go to the Emergency at your local hospital and explain what has happened. Be firm that you are not going to take your Loved One home under the current circumstances.
The part where the regret comes in is that I felt she would hate me and never want anything ever to do with me again. In addition, what would my friends think of me abandoning my wife? In reality, once I did it, I now look back and realize that due to the dementia she never remembered what we had done. The hospital and then LTC facility had become her new home where she was most comfortable and was now getting the required care that I was never able to give her 24 hours a day. The point I am making now is to start the process earlier rather than when you are under the gun.
One point I always emphasize is to make sure the wills, Power of Attorney and Personal Directive are all in order because once your Loved One enters 'the system' it is too late.
Dean in Red Deer, AB