Is it inappropriate to have an Alzheimer's caregiver call me while I'm on vacation because my husband wanted to know where I was?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Gerifitz asked...

I am on a mini vacation from taking care of my husband with alzheimers. He is at a short care facility for respite. A few days ago the facility's social worker called because my husband was asking where I was, she gave my husband the phone to talk to me. I felt this was entirely inapppropriate and certainly sent me on a guilt trip. Was I wrong to think this inappropriate?

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

I can certainly understand how you feel discomforted by this phone call from your husband's professional caregiver. After all, respite is for the person who is doing the primary care and who deperately needs a break to recharge. Respite is the very best means to get away from the constant need to be caring for yourself as well as a cogitively-impaired person 24/ gives you the ability to go on. If the facility personnel has had training in Alzheimer (AD) care (and I hope they have), then I suspect the Social Worker had tried many other responses to your hubby before calling you. He was most likely appeased by hearing your voice and able to settle in to his daily routine in the new surroundings. New environments can be very disorienting for an AD person and not knowing where his 'life line' was may have caused him to become agitated. It is appropriate for the professional to connect to you in an effort to make your husband feel more secure. Not recalling that he chatted with you on the phone, he may need to hear your voice again for reassurance that he is not abandoned or without support. Let him know you'll see him soon and that your time away is 'for you' and not about him. Don't waste time feeling guilty. You'll need this energy when you return home!

Community Answers

Keala answered...

As a BSN RN 17 years of Rehab nursing experience, specialty Geriatrics Yes! As a local provider says, it is important to have a regular caregiver in the early stages of the disease, so that when the disease progressed to the point, your loved one cannot say your name, he will at least associate a friendly face with positive memories. The disease is aging in reverse. Of course we cannot treat out affected elders as children, They have the same needs and desires as we all do. Example, a gentle touch a appropriate wound spoken in the ear at the right time. repeat, the disease is aging in reverse, we can do more and try to do more, but being human we all face the same end. That last step into the great beyond. Carolyn Sue KeAla WaiOla Brenneman BSN RN PDU'76'

Clubkeller answered...

I went through this with my dad. I was getting burnt out after being the only one to step up and care for him. I dealt with moving him numerous times plus dealt with his many changes that come with declining abilities.. It was endless. I needed to go with my family for our one week vacation. It wasn't that far away but I still felt scared to go. I knew that my dad seeing me many times each week was our routine. Then I realized I was worried that my dad would find out I wasn't nearby and panic, so I told the staff not to tell him,and if he needed to talk with me, they could call me on my cell phone. This way he'd still think I was at home. I even took the time to call him once so he could hear my voice. Yes - I made a small fib that I had a stomach bug, so I couldn't come visit him. He agreed with that thought and he stayed calm. My dad had a good week, and I had a refreshing, relaxing week. And when I came back, I was able to jump right back in once again. The nursing home did call me once on this trip. They apologized profusely for calling, but wanted to alert me that my dad was constantly trying to take the nurses scissors. (He was successful a time or two, with no ham to anyone.) I did not mind the call and got to here that all was well with him, without him knowing they talked with me. And it did not bother me at all that they called. They knew I needed a break too.