My mother will be 87 in March. She just survived an...

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 25, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother will be 87 in March. She just survived an abdominal aortic aneurysm. She is legally blind and has other health issues.

What is best environment for my mother with her blindness? She has chosen to stay at a long term care facility where she did her rehab. Would she be better off in another type of setting?

Expert Answers

Kay Paggi, GCM, LPC, CGC, MA, is in private practice as a geriatric care manager and is on the advisory board for the Emeritus Program at Richland College. She has worked with seniors for nearly 20 years as a licensed professional counselor, certified gerontological counselor, and certified geriatric care manager.

Choosing a community that meets the needs of frail older adults is always challenging, and finding the best place for someone who is visually impaired makes that challenge greater.

My tendency in this case is to trust your mother's judgment. She must have had good reasons for choosing to remain in the facility where she did her rehab. One of them may have been her familiarity with the environment and the staff. People who are visually impaired rely on things being in the same place to help them safely negotiate the environment. If this facility was one that left random objects in hallways, or did not return personal items to the same place in her room, she would not have wanted to stay there.

The staff at the rehab facility must have contributed to your mother's decision to remain there. Possibly she felt that there are people there who she trusts to guide her, or help her maintain dignity, or assist her in ways that help her feel safe. These are good reasons for remaining.

On the other hand, nursing homes are the most expensive and restrictive of the possible settings for care. Your mother may have decided to stay there because she is afraid of another move into a strange place. You probably wonder if your mother would do better in an assisted living that does not have the medical staff that she no longer requires. Unless her health is exceptional, she may not thrive in her private home or yours.

My suggestion is that you locate one or two assisted living communities, visit them yourself, and ask about how they assist their residents who do not see well. Ask about small things, like helping impaired residents identify the food on their plate and the location of the food items on their plate. Ask about housekeeping and whether personal items are returned to their original position after dusting. Ask whether staff members routinely help residents find an empty seat at activities. If you are satisfied that an assisted living would be a better long term environment for your mother, then initiate a conversation with her about moving.

Be sure to get her opinion, and honor it. At age 87, quality of life is important. Ask her to define what 'quality' means to her and how to get more of it in her daily life.

Community Answers

Mareva answered...

I appreciate your input. Am having dinner with her tonight and I am going to ask her to define 'quality' as she sees it. My other issue is that I am the only person that has seen her or is seeing her now - I work 1 fulltime job and 1 seasonal so I cannot see her more than 3 or 4 times a week and that is extremely wearing - I worry about her emotional and mental state when none of her children (4 of us) take time to visit her. Assisted Living would be extremely costly because of blindness and having a POA. Thank you Bev