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Watch Out for Well-Attired Caregivers

21 Jul

Sadly, elder abuse is far more common than most of us realize. It’s certainly not an unfamiliar concept to me. Both my mother and my late uncle were victimized by paid caregivers.

A few years ago,  my brother and I were given three hours notice that my mother was to be released from hospital but would require around-the-clock care for several months. We didn’t have a clue how to hire a care giver. All we knew was my mother really wanted to go home and the hospital wanted its bed back.  Lorna was the only applicant I spoke with and I hired her immediately. She seemed trustworthy and competent. And she was immediately available.

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Tribute to an Excellent Caregiver: Yes They Really Do Exist

18 Jul

Having written about Lorna, one of two caregivers I had to fire for cause, I think it’s only fair I devote time to Lea, the best PSW I hired. In case you’re curious, between my uncle and my mother, there were nine.

Lea was my Uncle Benny’s caregiver during the last years of his life. She was hired after I let four others go when he moved into Cummer Lodge, a long-term care home.  I didn’t think he would need private caregivers in a nursing home, but I was very wrong.  After two weeks of daily calls about frequent falls and aggressive behavior, it was  becoming clear my uncle wasn’t getting as much care as he needed. But by then the people I let go had all found new jobs.

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My Little Black Book

17 Jul

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If someone you love is living in a long term care home, chances are you have a version of my little black book. I have another one for my mother, but I kept this one next to my bedside phone so I could scribble down notes for the many calls I took relating to my uncle.

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Dementia and Aging Aren’t Synonomous

25 Jun

I had my introduction to dementia on my uncle’s 91st birthday. He had been hospitalized and it was the first time I heard the term Lewy Body disease. Prior to his late 80s my uncle’s retirement years were anything but typical: at 65 he started a business and ran it quite successfully for well over 20 years. He read voraciously and could converse about complicated subjects with utter confidence.  He lived independently and his only health complaints were poor hearing and arthritic knees.

Looking back, signs of my uncle having dementia appeared long before that visit to the hospital. But I mistakenly believed those indicators were part and parcel with aging. I naively thought his increasing habit of repeating the same story over and over again was funny. It was only after he had several falls and started swearing at me that I suspected something more than normal aging was at play.

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How Long is Too Long to Have to Wait for Subsidized Long Term Care?

20 Jun

According to Central Toronto CCAC, the nursing home my mother most wants to go to is still filling applications from 2003-04. Yes, that’s right. The wait time for Baycrest’s Apotex Centre Jewish Home for the Aged is TEN YEARS! Sad to say, but with all my mother’s ailments, she has a better chance of landing a spot in a cemetery than she does a bed in the place most-likely to meet her cultural and spiritual needs.

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Is it Alzheimer or is it Selective Memory?

6 Jun

My mother is somewhere between stage five and stage six in the progression of her alzheimer disease. This means gaps in her memory and thinking have become more and more noticeable. She also requires increasing amounts of help with daily activities.  As long as I can remember my mother has had selective memory. As her dementia has progressed, her ability to remember things the way she would like to remember them has become even more so. For example:

She can remember an expensive leather suit she really thinks she ought to have with her in the nursing home, but she can’t remember it’s been at least 30 years since she wore it.

She can remember I haven’t shared a copy of her tax statement but she can’t remember her failing eyesight made it virtually impossible for her to read or understand any of last year’s.

She can remember wanting to call the police to have me arrested when she discovered I had removed all her lovely high heel shoes from her home. And she regrets not doing so. But she can’t remember tripping and falling repeatedly before her Imelda Marcos-like footwear collection was culled.

She can remember just about anything of value she’s ever owned. But she can’t remember that almost all of these items are no longer of use to her.

She can remember she has grandchildren. But she can’t always remember their names. Not that she cared much for their names anyway.

Most mystifying of all, she can remember she needs to see any number of medical specialists, but she can’t remember she has Alzheimer’s.

More on Montessori for Seniors

20 Mar

In my earlier post today about the similarities between people with dementia and very young children, I briefly mentioned Montessori methods as being good for both age groups. The following video shows how one retirement home in Toronto uses Montessori techniques as part of its dementia care programming.

When my son was two, he was given the same clothes pin exercise while attending a Montessori. It helped with his fine motor skills

The L’Chaim Retirement Home is on Sheppard Ave. west of Bathurst St. I’m not familiar with it, but might have to check it out for my mother.

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