Our family is in a quandary about where Mom should live. Individual staff members at Mom’s nursing home continue to provide exceptional care, yet we still have frequent issues with the regulation of Mom’s oxygen (which she requires since she has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease as well as Alzheimer’s disease). And then there’s a brand new assisted living residence specifically for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias that is opening in the area.
So what facility would be best for Mom? The new residence is clean, modern, and up-to-date. The residence provides activities that are specifically tailored for those with Alzheimer’s, and the administrator told us that they have developed care teams of nurses and nurse’s aides who work specifically with certain residents. Photos and stories on the doors of each resident are displayed which show each resident during his or her childhood or early adulthood.
And then there’s the facility where Mom is currently living. The facility is older, but has recently been renovated. Activities are offered, but I’m not sure if these are based on research of what works for those with dementias. Some of the staff members know Mom from when she was in the locked unit, but there seems to be a continual parade of new faces among the nurses and aides who work with her. Still, Mom wants to be in control, so the fact that many of the staff members at her current location have figured out how to get her to work with them (and give her the illusion of control) is really important.
So where should Mom live? Initially, Dad and I were swayed by the charms of the new location. Since then, I’ve had a chance to think - and Dad’s had a chance to visit with others. My current thinking is based on Mom’s two moves to new rooms within her current residence since June. After both moves, Mom was disoriented, and in June she became uncommunicative for awhile. And two residents who were in the secure unit along with Mom went into a downhill spiral soon after the June move and passed away.
Dad’s conversation with the nursing home’s director of admissions provided a similar warning. The director cautioned us to think carefully about the move, noting that she has seen many residents who were in the later stages of Alzheimer’s regress and pass away within a month after having their residences changed.
Currently, my thinking is to keep Mom where she is and to continue to work with the administration and nursing staff to regulate her oxygen level. If Mom was in an earlier stage, I wouldn’t hesitate to advocate moving her to the new assisted living residence for those with dementia, but because Mom has progressed further into Alzheimer’s, she is more disoriented and gets more so when she is moved around. Thus, I think the familiar settings and the familiar faces at her current residence are best for her at this point.
My dad is still thinking about this decision - and we may end up ultimately moving Mom. But I cautioned him to think about the guilt that he and I would face if we move Mom and she passes away within the month. Is that something we are willing to live with?
Stay tuned for future installments as we work through this decision"
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.