Its been 2 1/2 weeks now since dad went into the care center. We are all adjusting to the new circumstances, and developing new routines.
The care center gets the residents up fairly early in the morning. That means that dad is awakened and dressed by about 8:00 AM for breakfast. They have activities for the residents during the morning.
Mom usually comes to visit for lunch time, which is served at about 12:15 each day. Dad needs some assistance with his eating. He need someone to cut up his food for him. Usually if someone will feed him a bite or two of food, you can hand the fork over to him -- and he will usually feed himself. Mom usually says with dad until after lunch, then he usually is transferred to his bed for an afternoon nap. After dad goes down for his nap, mom usually goes back home for a little while.
At dinner time, mom returns back to the care center. She usually arrives at about 5:30 PM. She spends some time with him before dinner. She brings magazines and newspaper sections that dad likes to look at. Once again she helps dad with eating dinner. As I mentioned before, he usually will feed himself once he gets started. However, there are times when he seems to forget how to use silverware. On those occasions mom feeds him.
Mom usually stays with dad until about 8:00 at night. By then dad has been transferred back to the bed, and is usually resting comfortably. Then mom returns home for the evening.
This routine has its pluses and minuses. On the one-hand, mom now has much more freedom that she had before dad was placed in the care center.
On the plus side, mom can go shopping when she needs to. She can schedule Dr.'s appointments for herself in the mornings. She can transact business as she needs to. She also can sleep at night without having to keep one eye and one ear open all night long worrying about dad getting up and hurting himself.
On the minus side, making two trips a day from home to the care center (roughly 10 miles each way) can wear on her too. Making two trips each day complicates the daily schedule. Also, it means driving home after dark, now that we are in the winter months.
Mentally, the stress on mom is of a different kind. Whereas before, the stresses of being a primary caregiver are constant and demanding, there is a different kind of stress with having a loved one in a care center.
This new kind of stress involves a combination of questioning whether or not you have made the right decision to place a loved one in a care center -- as well as working with the care center to make sure that all of the resident's needs are being met.
Mom has been concerned about having to place dad in the care center. Mentally she knows that it was the right thing to do. However, it takes time for our emotions to catch up with what we know in our minds. Mom wishes that that we could have kept dad home longer. In reality, there is a difference in the care one receives at home, versus the care you get in a care center. At home, you have complete control of the schedule, you know your loved ones needs intimately, and can address those needs. Your loved one has 24-hour one-on-one coverage by someone who loves them.
This is not a slam on the care center, or their staff. So far, our experience has been that most of the staff are very dedicated, caring people. However, they have many patients to take care of, and they can't physically be in more than one place at once. Sometimes you might have to wait a little while for the staff to help you with one thing or another, while they take care of other patients. Also, they have to work on their own schedule to organize their efforts and resources in the most efficient way.
Mom has been in the process of communicating to the care center staff what dad's needs are, and what works best for him. They have been listening, and have been incorporating mom's concerns into their care routines. Also, the staff has been learning thing about dad, and how they can best handle him, and have come up with some ideas of their own as well.
As for emotions catching up with logic (or the heart catching up with the head), mom is getting there as well. This past week she has received some spiritual assurances that taking care of dad at home would truly be more than she can do -- there are essential things that the care center can do for dad, that we can't do at home. Dad is truly getting the best care possible at this stage of his Alzheimer's Disease by being in the care center, rather than at home. This spiritual confirmation has given mom a greater measure of peace in her mind and heart -- that the right decision was reached when dad was placed in the care center.
Dad has his good days, interspersed with the occasional bad day. Some days he is more cooperative, and some days he is more combative. All in all I think he is doing well, for the most part, and is adapting to his new circumstances.