When it became apparent by mother’s medical assessments for Alzheimer’s in hospital were such that she needed more support that I could physically provide, I looked at all that could be obtained within the care systems and media.
I initially organised private paid help to visit Mother at home at meal times, buying in and stocking up her freezer with frozen meals. Meals that only required microwaving or the services of “meals on wheels”. It didn’t help very much but it was something. Mother didn’t recognise her own home surroundings anymore and because of this had become so distressed. She was often waiting for her husband to ‘return from work’; who sadly had died some years earlier. Her private helpers visited lunch times so between my visits, whilst I worked full time, then at least I knew she was having a hot meal every day.
After receiving reports from Police and neighbours that my “Mother was found walking the streets in the early hours” in all weathers, (often in her dressing gown) I knew our family situation had become dangerous to her safety.
The local council provided me with a lengthy list of care homes in my area, and I personally visited and even revisited nearly all, eliminating many.
I scrutinised their cleanliness, locations, and most importantly I saw for myself how the residents and staff interacted. I think it is important to visit, even late evenings, as it gives a fuller picture on the running conditions of such homes.
Talk to Staff & Listen Carefully
On speaking to a few care home managers on the disease progression of Alzheimer’s, I found that although managers did present themselves to me as experienced and knowledgeable, on talking to them fully , many had no real understanding of the actual implications. So interviewing the care home staff is essential to finding the right care for your loved one.
For instance, taking my mother to one care home ‘for a visit’ the manager said to my mother “when you come visit us again, you will feel much more familiar with us and comfortable”? The disease is such that my mother wouldn’t have known where she visited one hour before! She would have had NO recollection of any previous visit. How little the manager understood this disease.
Visit at unregulated times and look closely at their health. Speak with the Dr who examines residents, as I soon found one particular Care Home was giving to my Mother too much ‘sedation medicine’. Having secured the safest accommodation, it is necessary to continue with your own observations and be ready to challenge anything you find not to your standards.