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Can we get our father out of the Alzheimer's unit?

10 answers | Last updated: Nov 16, 2013
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Caring.com User - Carolyn  L.  Rosenblatt
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Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of...
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One of your questions refers to your father wanting to leave an Alzheimer's unit in continuing care. The other parts of your questions have to do with the family conflicts See also:
How to Provide Alzheimer's Support From a Distance

See all 900 questions about Alzheimer's and Other Dementias
about your mom, the distance between you and your parents, and the complex question of his rights versus the decision of the facility to put him in the Alzheimer's unit. Unfortunately, without more specific information, there is a lot of your question that can't be answered here, because the legal authority of the facility and dad's legal capacity to make decisions are not clear. However, one important question is about the extent of his being "a little confused". If he has not been evaluated by a physician or psychologist as to the extent of this problem, that needs to be done. Without objective information available to the family and to the facility, the basis for their decision to "lock him up"is uncertain. Have there been ohter incidents? Did he do something potentially unsafe?

Generally speaking, it is not legal in most places to "lock someone up" unless he is a danger to himself or others. If he is a danger and that is a doctor's decision, your father's rights are determined by the laws of your state, but it is likely that the state will allow the facility to confine someone who is a danger to himself. Wandering and confusion are red flags that warn us of the risk of injury, and vulnerability of an elder to serious danger.

Another problem is the fact that all siblings are at a distance from your parents. I recommend that your hire a competent geriatric care manager to be sure that a proper assessment is done,both of your dad's mental capacity to make decisions and of the appropriateness of his living situation. If you do not know what a care manager can do or how to find the right one, I explain this fully on my website. I have written a short booklet about it. The care manager should be local, know the facility where your parents live, and be responsible to report to one of you. I do hope you have a valid durable power of attorney and a health care directive (also called a proxy in some places) for both parents. You're going to need both of these legal documents.

Next, there is the question of your mom and what the adult kids can do about this conflict, her being "done" caring for dad, and his not wanting to be left by mom. This family matter may lend itself to a family meeting conducted by an experienced professional. I suggest an elder mediator, a geriatric social worker, or someone from the continuing care community who is experienced in assisting with family conflicts. A meeting can take place by conference call, or via Skype over the internet, which we do in my office and other similar professionals may also do. It is important that all family members who are able to be present attend to explore all the possible solutions to this very difficult and complex set of problems you have outlined.

It sounds as if you are worried and that this stressful situation seems to be somewhat beyond your reach. It isn't. A reasoned approach and determination to get to all these issues, one at a time, will help you find your way,but you will need several kinds of help as a family to get there. Seek the guidance you need from the right help. If all the siblings need to pool your resources to do this, it will be worth it.
To summarize, first get an evaluation for dad to see how impaired he is and the recommendation of a doctor about his living situation. Second, use a care manager to be your "boots on the ground" to report to you and to advocate for dad's safety and his desires. Third, find the right person to conduct a family meeting to do some problem solving and planning for the next steps for both your parents.

 

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Lancer01 answered...

Curban, My 86 yr old father also has Loui Body Dementia and Parkinson's like disease but it's not Parkinsons and he doesn't have Alzheimers. My Dad's dreams and reality are one in the same for him. Because of his parkinsons like problem (balance), he is a fall risk, we had to put him in a nursing home in Hartford Conn., he stayed there on the Alzheimers unit for 3 months and it was like "When in Rome do as the Romans" and we saw my Dad degenerate to a lower level like the other Alzheimer's residents there. He really needed to be with higher functioning residents. Long story short, my father now needs 24 hr a day care and we could not provide that at home, it would have cost us $11,000 a month to keep him in the Nursing Home in Conn. We couldn't afford that so we moved him to be closer to me in Az and it only costs us $4,500 a month out here. We found each state regulates this gray area differently. My Dad is still degenerating out here too but at a much slower rate. The difference is, all of us kids (3) convinced my Mom to move my Dad and herself to where we live so we could help out and she didn't have to do everything herself. Good Luck, Lancer, Tucson

 

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curban answered...

Thank you for this information. I think you are fortunate that you could convince your parents to move so that your father could get the care he needed. My mother is too selfish to do this for my father....even though your solution would be perfect for my parents.

 

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joyg answered...

Perhaps your mother AND you father are no longer capable of making their own decisions. Children need to step up and not be afraid of doing it for them. OR, just move your father. He needs your help and your personal attention.

 

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holly1 answered...

My husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. It takes a great deal of me to manage our life. I give him 90% of my time. Daycare is an answer for the other 10%. He is extremely healthy and energetic. He is happy and busy. He has no judgement. His memory is gone...but he remembers things that cause great concern in our day. He was in electronics and communication in his lifetime career, in short he requires a lot of supervision. Currently he has several areas in the home where he rummages and 'packs up' to go home. He attempts to carry certain belongings out to his Envoy to carry out his plans of going home. Usually I am successful in waylaying him with reasons we need to leave the back empty or engaging him in an activity such as going somewhere or for a walk etc. He often talks about getting his truck keys so that he can go. He seems to be slipping away more and more and it is difficult to even help him come back. He is very aware that I am in charge and is feeling bossed. I am younger by 9 years, thankfully, and want to help him as long as I can, but am wondering if it will get beyond me and what the future will hold. I believe that anyone else who would take care of him would sedate him for 'containment' purpose. Lately I feel as though I would like to sit him in a chair and duct tape him to it!!! I have set an appointment with a new Dr. who is a geriatric MD for Monday afternoon. My reason for writing this is perhaps to give you some insight to what your Mother has been dealing with as well as giving myself a chance to vent. I miss my husband that I once had and am so alone with dealing with this man that I do have who does not remember that we are married. This went first off and on as we are relatively newlyweds. 9 years.

 

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TEMPUS FUGIT answered...

WHAT A SAD STORY..................

STAND BY YOUR FATHER - WE ARE ALL INCLINE TO TAKE DRASTIC STEPS IN THIS MEMORY LOSS AGE AWARENESS.. WHAT HAPPEN TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS --- WHEN IT WAS A SIMPLE CASE OF AGING - SOME TO IT BETTER THAN OTHERS......

I AM SO SICK AND TIED OF THE LEAST MEMORY SLIP...............IT MUST BE ALZHEIMER --- NOT SO................

CAN'T WE JUST GROW OLD WITH GRACE - AND NOT BE LABELED MEMORY SLIPS WITH ALZHEIMERS ......

PEACE.... ...

 

CACTUSGAL answered...

I certainly understand your concerns. I am trying to delay a diagnosis of Alzheimers for my Mom as she is not quite there yet in my opinion and would be horrified to be in a Lock up position. I know she needs extra care, but not ready for total care. She is fighting now to stay out of assisted living and is paying thru the nose for Home care in order to stay in her apartment. Thank goodness I am close enought, 2 hours away) that I can visit and make sure things are going smoothly every week for a few days. I am told my the retirement community admin. that once in the "UNIT" always in the unit... Can this be true??? I wish you luck, and would be interested in your resolution to have your dad back out in the world. Look forward to your success story, and wish all the best for your Dad. Cactusgal.

 

oldladygolfer answered...

I am dealing with this very problem -my dear husband has AD and now need 24/7 care -won't go to day care, cannot be left alone because he wanders day and night.We are both up in age he is 87 and I am 82--I have been his main caregiver forever-and cannot care for him and my own health issues anymore -I have visited AD units-all are locked to protect the patient and keep them safe.No one wants to make this decision,but it does seem to me,with both your Mom & Dad being in the same place,,would be easier than someone like me -who has to place my Dear One-in a facility for his and my own safety-I am of course very,very sad indeed.

 

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Janet B. answered...

My husband has Alzheimer's Lewy body disease, Parkinsonism, and Frontal lobe dysfunction. I adore my husband and he adores me. We have been on our honeymoon for 51 1/2 years and I never want it to end. It is very difficult for you who do not live with your parents on a daily basis to understand what your mother has probably already been through. I take care of my husband out of love. I am handicapped my self and cannot walk without a walker and only limited then. I cannot bend to the floor and many other problems. He is incontinent of both bowel and bladder, falls if not assisted, needs his food cut up and some help eating, must be completely dressed and undressed, lifted onto and off of a toilet as well as be reminded why he is on the toilet. He must be bathed, shaved, hair washed and combed etc. When you deeply love someone you do these things because it lets you stay close together and you want to do as much as you can to make their time as pleasant as possible. If you mom and dad did not have this type of relationship then I can understand why she is unwilling to care for your dad. For several years before anyone but me knew he had Alzheimer's I did. My kids thought I was nuts and did doctors and friends. She has probably been living with a lot of things you do not know about and has reached her limit of what she can handle. No one can judge someone else if they have not lived in their shoes. Do what you can for your father but remember your mother knows him a whole lot better than you do. We have one son who lives out of town and 3 sons who live locally. The one who only sees us a few times a year wants to put my husband into a nursing home and wants me to go into assisted living or a nursing home. He is helpful in some of his suggestions but he is also critical of so much when he doesn't really know what is going on. His brothers who see us much more frequently do not give us the hard time he does. He means very well but lacks the in depth knowledge of our day to day life to be as judgmental as he is. You would be wise to stay with your parents a month at a time rotating so you could really get to see for yourself how your dad is doing. Then if you still feel he is okay to live in assisted living take what steps you want to make it happen. If you cause him to be released and you are not willing to accept responsibility for him by having him live with you or you move in to care for him, then you may be putting him at great danger. For my husband to be locked up anywhere where we cannot be together would be far worse for him than death. He cannot stand to be out of my sight and I hate to be out of his. This is not the normal way most people seem to feel about each other. It sounds like your mother has found what works for her. If your father does have Alzheimer's then you need to decide how to care for him...leave him in the facility, take him home and care for him your self and possibly with CNA's assisting, move in with him into his home, hire 24 hour care for him in his home. Assisted living does not give you a caregiver 24 hours a day. They provide meals, and help in limited situations. Unless a person is in the very early stages of Alzheimer's this is not adequate. God Bless You and give you the wisdom and love and understanding to make the right choices. God bless you for caring enough about your parents to try your best to help in anyway you can.

 

oldladygolfer answered...

Hi Curban- Some decisions are so hard to make,aren't they ? First ages of your dear parents were not mentioned and if your Mom is up in age,she may not be able to handle this situation or have the energy either. It is impossible to walk in her shoes ,that's when someone needs to step up to the plate for solutions . These days most couples need to work and cannot take care or even take turns-caring for the older generation-like in the old days. If you are not satisfied with your Dads care ,try to make some changes and also your Mom needs to be considered in this fix and plan , they have been your Mother and Father all your life. I wish you good luck !!

 

 
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