The decision to place your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, or any form of dementia, in a Care Home is not always made as a result of a sudden crisis. It often comes about as you gradually realize the consequences of mental decline.
The person who lives alone, but forgets to eat, does not keep clean, leaves the stove turned on, neglects to pay the electric bill, wanders, goes out and becomes lost, obviously cannot continue to live alone. He or she needs the assistance of a homemaker, fulltime caretaker, or needs to be moved to the home of a relative or friend willing to assume the responsibility. If neither of these arrangements can be made, then Care Home placement may be necessary. We believe there are two criteria, which help guide this decision.
First, you may be forced to conclude that you can no longer do all that is necessary. You may see that the burden is too great to pass the care giving responsibilities on. Further, the main caregiver may be so aggrieved by the personality changes, characteristic of the disease, which is hard to be around the demented person. To some, the remnants of intellect and personality are leftovers, which serve only as painful reminders of what the person once was.
Secondly, there are changes in your life, which come along with caring for a demented person at home, which may be overwhelming. Social life is likely to be terribly constricted. Friends will respond to a person in an emergency, in a temporary time of trial or in bereavement, but in a permanent situation, the burden is often too heavy for them. Actually, friends often desert a demented person, and the family must learn not to be bitter when this happens.
When caring for a severely demented person, you spend nearly all of your time in the company of a person who cannot converse and you may begin to ask, “Is this what my life was meant to be?” Unconscious resentment develops which pours out at various times, especially when the same question is asked over and over again. “Can you care for someone when you are resentful?” When the resentment is gone can you bear the guilt of having felt that resentment? Each one of us has his/her own unique capacities, gifts and circumstances, and these form the basis for recognizing the need to seek help.
With the realization that a spouse, a mother or father, a sister or brother, or any family member can no longer continue to live in a home setting, comes the need to decide to find a home where he or she will be well cared for. This decision should not be made by any one person alone. It is too burdensome. Other family members should share the responsibility. Families at this time need help and would do well to seek advice from any source available to them. (i.e., a physician, their spiritual leader, a geriatric consultant, or family service agency). Any of these experienced professionals can provide counseling which will help to eliminate doubts about what you have decided to do.