How can we help mom with Alzheimer's be safe in her home?

1 answer | Last updated: Jul 17, 2011
A fellow caregiver asked...

We just transferred our mother, age 92, from the hospital to a skilled nursing center for rehab. Mom was treated for atrial fibrillation. It seems that the medicines are working to regulate her heartbeat.

Mom has lived independently at a seniors' apartment complex. I hired a caregiver for her about five years ago. The caregiver lives in her apartment complex. She attends to all of mom's needs from fixing her meals, to giving her specific medications to attending to her personal hygiene items.

Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about seven years ago. Mom does not do anything on her own, with the exception of getting dressed and going to the bathroom. She has never used a walker or cane. The good news is that mom knows she is not at home. The bad news is that mom knows she is not at home. She said this evening that she cannot handle being in the nursing home and she will kill herself. We want so much to take her back to her apartment. We know that her caregiver is the best but is not able to be with her 24/7. What options do we have? Mom will never stay long-term in the nursing home. How can we protect her if we decide it is best to have her in her own apartment? Do we take the chance that there will be no one there if she should fall. This is all so sad! Thank you for your guidance.

Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

It is of course a delicate balance to allow someone with Alzheimer's disease stay at home alone and be safe and at the same time  honor her need to be independent and stay in her own apartment.  Have you looked at assisted living?  That setting is usually a much "homier"  and she can bring her own furniture.  You emight ask her to give it a three month trial.  She may have made friends by that time and not want to leave.  You obviously would need several caregivers if she was to stay at home for weekends as well as if the primary caregiver is sick or needs a vacation.  You may have to have her physician or a clergy person help you help your mother.   I think your mother is  very fortunate  to have you as her daughter. 

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