So, you find yourself sitting in your parents’ doctors office and he’s just given you the “official” diagnosis…. Mom DOES have Alzheimer’s…. A surreal moment for anyone. Right away, all types of things are running through your mind, I know. Sadness, confusion, shock, you’re on an emotional roller coaster…. But don’t panic!!! Alzheimer’s, while an unfortunate diagnosis, is NOT a Death Sentence. I’ve taken the time and listed some very important steps you should follow, immediately after receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis of a loved one.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.
Chances are you are working and live in your own home and your loved one lives someplace else. If ever their was a time to take FMLA, now is it. You need to re-organize your life to coincide with the care of your loved one. Sure, you think you’ll be able to work and get everything done, but it’s been my experience that you won’t. FMLA is really the best way to go. You won’t be paid, but you’ll have piece of mind that your job is secure while you take care of your loved ones needs.
At Home Care VS Skilled Nursing
It’s been my experience most people usually start out wanting to keep their loved ones in their own homes or at home with them. Hmmm…. If this was your first thought/plan after getting THEE Alzheimer’s/Dementia diagnosis of a loved one…., let me applaud you for your compassion and love for wanting to do what you FEEL is the right thing.
Keeping mom in her own home?
Ask yourself two (2) questions….
- Can mom afford to live in her home with appropriate 24 hour care til the end of her days?
- Can you afford to keep mom in her home with appropriate 24 hour care until the end of her days?
To answer the first question requires you to do your own forensic audit of mom’s bills, if you’re not already familiar with them. Mom’s bills, which may or may not include, Life insurance, prescriptions (co-pay) and other monthly bills, etc. In some cases mom’s income may only be able to cover her monthly bills. If this is the case, there are agencies that may be able to assist with supplemental funding. These agencies are income based and mom’s income will have to fall within the agencies guidelines. Some agencies offer home health care placements, like companions, physical therapist.. etc. These agencies require a signed doctor’s order.
If, after going over ALL of mom’s income and bill’s you discover she alone cannot pay for 24 hour nursing care, you can opt to supplement her care with your own funds. But, again this will require a forensic audit of your own income and bills. Now you can see why it’s so important to take advantage of FMLA. Perhaps you have siblings, church, family or friends that are willing to assist in caring for your mom. Unfortunately, this route requires a lot of phone calls, follow ups and back-up people. Agencies are available that provide home health care aides, and licensed personnel, most are at your own expense and can become extremely costly over time. Depending on the level of care mom needs, keeping mom in her own home may be ideal…. But requires a lot of sacrifice on your end.
Skilled Nursing Homes
Nursing home, Skilled Nursing Facility, they go by many names…. but the bottom line is, these are facilities designed to give, but not limited to, 24 nursing, dietary, psychological, medical care to those who are elderly/disabled. Over the 24 years, I’ve been a Geriatric Nurse I’ve worked in many facilities. Some are very clean with enough caring staff to take care of your loved ones, providing dignity and care. Some were not. Some, I wondered ” How on God’s Green Earth were they even open!”. Some were closed down by the State of Michigan after receiving numerous complaints from staff and family members. Overall, I can honestly say as I look back and think on all of the Nursing homes I worked in out of my career, the majority of them remain open today, including the very first Nursing home I ever worked, Fairlane Nursing home on Joy Rd. & Greenfield in Detroit, MI.
Once labeled the largest nursing home in Detroit, with at the time over 300 beds; Fairlane has changed hands many times since the original owner, Jim Bran scum first opened the doors. Each time I go there either to work or visit friends, it’s always evolving and getting better. The average time staff stays is over 20 years.
I have a friend who is the same age as I am. She once told me the day after she graduated, she walked down the street to Fairlane Nursing home and applied for and received a job. Next year, we’ll be celebrating our 30 year High School graduation. in other words, she’s been working at Fairlane for 30 YEARS! Some might say Fairlane is an anomaly, but it is proof to you, if indeed you have to put Mom into a Nursing home…. there are very good nursing homes available. As long as you are vigilant with your research prior to placement and you visit mom regularly, nursing home placement is NOT a death sentence for mom or any reason for you to feel guilty.
If you have any questions about About Alzheimer’s or anything in this article, please feel to leave a comment or email me.