"When you know, you know!"
A big thank you to Jess at St Joseph Hospital for allowing Maintain Me to Connect with Jim* and his amazing father. When I had first heard from Jim, he was in quite a bind being a primary caregiver for his father. He had told me that his dad was diagnosed with dementia and had recently moved in with him and his wife. In 8 short months his father's dementia had progressed significantly and he was starting to experience sundowning.
Sundowning is symptom of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. It's also known as “late-day confusion.” If someone you care for has dementia, their confusion and agitation may get worse in the late afternoon and evening.
This was truly the case of Jim's father and it had gotten so bad that Jim had not slept in over 4 days. He was waking up each night with his dad to cue him to go back to bed and orienting him in order for his dad to realize it was not morning. This is very common with dementia and Jim was aware due to the fact that he was a retired CNA (certified nurse assistant).
There is nothing wrong with being honest with yourself as a primary caretaker and asking the VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION..."Can I care for my loved one the way they truly need to live a happy life?"
It’s so easy to get stuck in the SHOULDS. "I should take care of my mom/dad, after all they raised me for all those years" or "I won’t give up on them, I can’t, they are family". These are all perfectly normal, in fact its ok to feel that no one can take care of mom and dad as good as you. YOU’RE PROBABLY RIGHT. No one can take place of that family member.
Maintain Me is here to be sure that we find second best. We want our families to walk out of their mom/dad's new place thinking to themselves "if not me, I am so glad it's them".
I had a full day set up with Jim to tour as Maintain Me believes in having choice and options for families. We arrived at the first place and showed Jim around. We stayed for about an hour, got all of our questions answered and then were heading off to the next place. Right as I was telling Jim to follow his heart, and that if it feels good then there is something to that, Jim stopped me right before walking into the next place.
He said "You know what Chelsea I don't want to see anymore. If I truly followed my heart I would know that the first place is the right place for my dad". I was shocked. Usually I am able to really find a good place within the first day of touring, but to have found it in the first hour? I encouraged him to make sure and remind him that I didn't mind how many places we saw, I wanted him to feel that he made the best decision. He said "when you know, you know!"
Jim's father moved in that weekend and Jim is bringing his band by to play for all the other residents as the weather allows. Jim's happy, his dad is happy, therefore Maintain Me is happy!
Thank you Jim for allowing Maintain Me to be part of your journey with your family. I look forward to hearing you play and watching all the other residents enjoy your gift of music!
***Names have been changed for privacy of our clients.
Chelsea Sweeney, RN
Senior Placement Services