Should You Consider Adult Day Care For Your Aging Parent?

schoolAre you considering sending your parent to Adult Day Care? It’s a hard decision to make with so many considerations. You must go to work everyday without worrying about your loved one constantly…are they okay, are they roaming outside of the house, are they a danger to themselves and to the house?

If you are lucky enough to be a stay-at-home caretaker, then you are one of the lucky ones, although some might not think so. Going to work while care taking a parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia, can be a painful and overwhelming dilemma, leaving you mentally exhausted and leaving your boss at work, scratching his head. Frankly, you aren’t able to do either of those important jobs well because your main thought everyday while at work is about what is going on at home with your parent while you are not there.

If they are nearing the stage of being a roamer or wanderer, then you are really in trouble, since they can get seriously injured, lost or create a dangerous situation for others while out of the house. If this happens a lot and you don’t have understanding neighbors, they can report this activity to the Adult Protective Services, which is also not a good thing. At some point, we all come to the reality of the situation, which is that we can’t leave them alone in the house anymore because they are a danger to themselves. It’s easy to find yourself in denial about your parent’s progression in this disease. It’s not easy to admit that they won’t be the person that you remember and it’s very sad. But, when it becomes so obvious, or something bad happens to make you know exactly that you must take action…that’s when we start researching our options.

In my life, I found myself in this same situation. For the 5 years before, my mother with dementia was able to be home alone without an issue or concern while I went to work. Everything seemed perfectly normal…then, what seemed to be overnight, she started to mentally decline and was leaving the house in search of her mother, or to look for an apartment, or look for a job. The first time it happened, one of my wonderful neighbors brought her home. Then on another day, she left the house, in search of lord knows what, was on the main road when another kind neighbor saw her talking to a complete stranger who had pulled off the road to help her. Again, the neighbor brought her home and called me at work to alert me. The last time it happened, she walked about 2 miles from the house, when one of my neighbors spotted her while on her way home in the car. She of course pulled over and brought Mom home. When I got the call at work that last day, I had to literally break into a meeting to tell my boss, the CMO of Marketing, that I was leaving for the day. I just told him…see ya…gotta to go. It happened that fast.

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Photos: Eleanor Van Meter on her first day of Adult Day Care looking happy and ready
for her day…getting on the Van that came to pick her up.

From there, I had to research our options, which lead me to a social worker through the Visiting Nurse Service network. Through working with her, she was able to get me onto the fast track for financial aid to affording Adult Day Care. We got her into the local Center in my area, which I knew a neighbor had used for her mother a few years before. It came highly recommended and I felt secure in leaving my mother there while I was at work. Only one thing…Mom didn’t take to it. She consistently tried to leave the building, so an aide had to be assigned to her in order to keep her there. Of course Mom was very argumentative at that point of her disease, so it became a difficult situation. After a few weeks of Adult Day Care, I had to try and find another way to keep her safe while I was at work, as I was having to leave work everyday to pick her up early. She was a handful.

As it turned out, we were able to get her a home aide, Cardine, who became the angel in our lives until her death last September 28, 2014. She was with us for a year and a half giving my mother exceptional care 5 days a week. Every situation has a different solution. Some people take very well to Day Care and others like my mother didn’t. I definitely recommend giving it a try. They have all sorts of activities, arts and crafts, music, games, mealtime, plus they have a chance of developing friends and having somewhat of a social life. Social life in itself is an important consideration because it’s so important to keep their minds engaged with this disease. There are doctors and nurses on staff if they are needed, god forbid. I found the staff to be very compassionate and caring which was a comforting. Whatever works best for your situation is the way to go. There is no straight answer..not one size fits all when it comes to Adult Day Care. I hope this helps you.

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In the Land of Dementia, Every Day is a New Day!

Still home on medical leave so naturally I am getting up about an hour later than my normal 5 am alarm which has been absolutely delightful for a change. This morning I wake up to find Mom very quietly sitting on her bed and starring at her shoes, right hand shaking wildly from the Parkinson’s involvement. I ask her what she is doing and as usual, she replies I don’t know. I say to her that maybe she should lay down for a few minutes until Cardine arrives because she would be more comfortable and she agrees, but doesn’t respond. Every day around here with Mom is a new day in her progress in dementia.

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I’ve noticed this week that she is very unresponsive to what we are saying to her. For instance, last night I am asking her to lay down because it was bed time. She totally heard what I was saying, and even agreed but when it was time to follow through, she had no idea as to what to do. What is that? I am having a hard time understanding. She hears me, she agrees but then doesn’t know how to do it. Wouldn’t it just be instinct, something that she just does without thinking? Of course, I am probably all wrong about that as the mind is mystery but I am sure the doctors have a word for this stage of the behavior. This scene from last night played out by Vladimir coming in and physically lifting her up and gently putting her in the bed.

This week I have noticed that she is slower and more unsteady on her feet. We have tried to put the walker in front of her for a more steady and secure walk. sometimes she accepts it and sometimes not. She’s definitely at the point where she will need both a walker and transport chair to get around as just walking from the kitchen to her bedroom is a far walk for her. Seems that in the last year, there has been a huge decline in her disease. You don’t really notice it so much day to day, yet when you look back weeks and months, it becomes very obvious that she has spiraled downward. You can only do the best that you can to make the day a good one for her. Cardine accomplishes that with everything she does. They normally have a very good day with Cardine engaging her in puzzles, coloring, conversation, newspaper reading. They do it together, even if Mom doesn’t particiate. Cardine will sit across the table and just do it while Mom watches her and she seems interested and engaged. Cardine is a very loving, patient and caring home aide. I am very happy and blessed to have her in our lives.

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Mom’s Trip to the Doctor

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Oh what a day it has been! Mom has out done herself today. Dementia patients have a hard time handling change of any kind and even though I know about that, it is always hard to deal with. Today’s change of routine was in the form of going to the doctor. I scheduled a vacation day so that I could take Cardine, her home aide, and my mother to her doctor appointment. Cardine arrived at 7:30 as usual, and we right away started waking Mom up so that she could get dressed and ready for her doctor appointment. Not sure when it all started going south, but from the moment she opened her eyes, she had decided that she was not going to the doctor both ignoring us and being very uncooperative. Cardine and I both looked at each other instinctively knowing that it was going to be a hard day ahead.

By almost 10am I had pretty much come to the conclusion that there was no way…negative…no way she was going to get dressed and leave the house for anything or anybody, so I reluctantly called to cancel the appointment. Not more than 5 minutes after I cancelled the appointment, she went into the bathroom for her morning routine and agreed to get dressed…and who knows why or what changed. I ran to the phone to call back and grabbed back her appointment hoping it wasn’t yet filled. Success, still open, so Cardine dressed her and we made our awkward way down the steep driveway to the car with the mother in tow each holding her up under her arms. I could hardly believe it…she was seat belted in and we were on our way and on time. We got to the doctor’s office, dropped her off at the front door and I went to park the car while Cardine and Mom went in. Although she had to wait quite awhile in the exam room, pictured above, she compensated by ignoring us and falling asleep on the table, obviously not happy with either of us or the situation. I look at the 2 photos above and wonder how can life look so beautiful and hopeful at one time and so sad in another. But apparently, for the most part, aside from the side effects of her meds causing an induced Parkinson’s disease, she is healthier than any of us with a good pulse and blood pressure. Considering how many sweets she eats, I am amazed…and a little confused!

Appointment went well after all the stress of the morning and we got home in one piece, gave her lunch with a bath chaser! I can tell you that she was none too happy about the bath! What is it about dementia patients that make them hate being bathed? Even so, at the end of the day, I have a somewhat healthy, clean and fed mother for the day. Tomorrow is another day. Let the weekend begin!

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Dementia Patients Will Always Gravitate to that Which They Have Been Passionate About!



Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho, it’s off to work we go…My mother has always loved and aspired to be in the work place. Growing up in her parents house, she would hope and dream about someday joining the work force, being in Manhattan, working for a company while doing what she loved. It just goes to show you how different we are, as I had always aspired to be my grandmother, a wife and home maker with absolutely no desire to work outside of the house. While I can accomplish more at home with respects to creativity and home, my mother felt more useful in the office. Maybe her desire to be in the work place had something to do with her mother being a home maker…and maybe my desire to be a home maker is because her my mother wanting to be in the work place…who knows. I guess  you can drive yourself crazy trying to analyze it when in reality, it is what it is.

So, now with mom smack in the middle of late stages of her disease, she still aspires to go to work. She has verbalized this to me in the morning while I am making my exit out the door for work. She has said “sure wish I could go to work instead of you”. I say “so do I”…And at other times while in the middle of a dementia attack, she would even try to leave the house to go looking for a job. Leaving the house became a quite a dilemma, therefore needing to get a home aide while I was at work to keep her safe.

To compensate for her great loss, she now goes through papers…any papers, old bills, newspapers, notes, letters. She lays them all out on her bed very neatly being mindful to make little organized piles covering half of her bed. Not sure what type of filing system she has but she seems to know what she is doing. One morning when Cardine, her home aide, was here during the week, she told me that my mother was worried that nobody would show up for work that day and that she would have to send Cardine home and close up for the day. She was imagining that she was running a business here at home and that because of the snow, nobody would be coming that day. I found it amazing that a person can be so into their own head, remembering so long ago and continue to try and act out what was so dear to her, while somehow making herself feel at peace. The mind is a strange thing and everyone is unique in the way they compensate.

So now, I try and leave out her boxes of papers so that she can organize and file when she has the mind to, keeping her busy, literally for hours upon hours. She has a closet filled with games, puzzles, playing cards, coloring books, but it is her papers where she feels most useful and at home. I think the word useful is the key word…back in her day, she worked at some very prestigious companies with very important positions, working closely with her boss and co-workers. She felt useful and needed, and knew that she was very good at what she did. They relied heavily on her and she took it very seriously. Hanging onto her work life is a way of hanging onto who she once was, who she still aspires to be… well, actually who she thinks she still is. She may have this terrible disease called dementia, but deep down inside, she is still the much needed and useful person she once was.

The image above shows Mom’s family…Sister Lillian, Mom, Mother, Father, Cousin Raymond and Uncle Sam. Taken up in Greenwood lake where her Aunt Adlaide lived. Who knew that young girl had such deep thoughts on where her life should go….but the good news is, that she accomplished it…she lived her dream…she was a valuable employee to the likes of the Rockefellers, ABC, Forbes Magazine, Bozell & Jacobs Advertising. She was good at her craft and she was valued and needed. What more could a person ask?

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