By Sande George for NW Senior Resources
Gladys is one of the 34.2 million caregivers who care for a family member with dementia. She’s committed to caregiving because she feels it’s an act of love. She wants to be there for her husband until “death do them part.”
Unfortunately, caregivers experience high levels of stress putting them at risk of developing anxiety and depression. This often leads to heart disease, stroke and memory issues.
Getting expert help is crucial in preventing a health crisis. Brainstorming possible solutions with a professional restores perspective during a difficult time. An expert gives peace of mind. An experienced referral agent assists in making an easier transition.
Gladys called us a few weeks ago. She lives in Tigard and has been caring for Harold, her 83 year old husband with dementia. For four years now she’s been struggling to keep up with his increasing care needs. At first it wasn’t too bad, she could leave him at home for short periods of time while she ran a few errands.
“But lately,” she said, “I’m not getting any sleep because Harold’s up and down all through the night. He goes into the kitchen and rearranges stuff in the drawers, or he tries going outside. I’m so tired. I’m afraid I won’t hear him and wake up. I never have a minute to myself. He follows me all day long from room to room and starts to fret if he can’t see me.”
The Tipping Point
Gladys told us her family and friends were concerned about her because she seemed muddled and was having a hard time concentrating. The final straw was when she pulled a muscle in her back helping Harold off the toilet. When he lost balance she fell over with him, wrenching her back. Fortunately nothing was broken!
On Her Own
At everyone’s insistence, Gladys agreed to start looking at senior care communities specializing in dementia. After getting recommendations from friends and neighbors, she began making calls.
A couple of places seemed like good options, maybe, so Gladys asked her granddaughter to come stay with Harold while she visited.
Gladys felt positive about the experience until…
She found out not every community provides the same kinds of care.
- one community didn’t provide diabetic care
- another one wouldn’t provide special diets or assist with feeding
- a third place had minimal night staff
- many didn’t have financial options for residents who outlived their money
- staffing ratios fluctuated
- some had a full time nurse on-site and others didn’t
Gladys discovered that every community provides the basics as required by the State but each sets their own upper limits of care, assessment procedures and move out policies.
Gladys kept reading and re-reading the marketing literature trying to make sense of it.
A Doctor’s Recommendation
A few days later, while at her doctor appointment, Dr. Smith asked her how she was coping with Harold’s care. Gladys’s eyes filled with tears. She broke down sobbing describing her frustrations in searching for care communities.
Dr Smith told her to call us, Northwest Senior Resources. “Gladys,” he said, “These people are experts in finding senior care. Let them help you! Don’t go it alone!”
Gladys called us right away. We were able to meet both her and Harold the very next day in their own home. We gathered details about Harold’s care, history, medication, social background and personal preferences. We learned what was important to them.
NW Senior Resources has been helping seniors and families since 2007.
- We keep detailed records on each community in the Portland Metro area
- We customize a list of places we knew are a good fit
- We know the services each community provides
- We check their history for complaints
Within 24 hours we compiled a list of pre-qualified communities, verified vacancies, care levels, pricing and suitability. Then we scheduled tours.
Friendly Support and Expert Guidance
But we didn’t send Gladys out on her own!
Instead, we went with her to each community. We helped her ask the right questions.
She relaxed and chatted with residents and their visiting family. Instead of anxiety and self-doubt Gladys smiled, laughed and engaged. She especially enjoyed the courtyard with raised garden beds where she watched residents digging in the rich soil, letting the smell of fresh dirt reconnect them to good memories.
Same Journey, Different Path
Harold is living in his new home now. Gladys wakes up feeling refreshed and full of new energy. She visits Harold almost daily, joining him for snack time, the sing-alongs, art and gardening. Or they just enjoy being together, sitting outdoors on sunny days.
Gladys still oversees Harold’s care and makes sure things go well for him. But now she has the mental and emotional stamina to cope with any issues that come up.
Gladys called again the other day. What a difference in her tone of voice…
“Thank you,” she said, “You’ve been a godsend. I’m now able to be the “best me” for Harold.
And he deserves it!”
When you’re looking for memory care, assisted living, adult care homes or retirement Call NW Senior Resources at 503-807-7778