No one ever likes the idea of placing their loved one in a senior living community. But sometimes an observation from a non-family member and unbiased third party like ADSLA can bring another perspective into light.
My client was a child of elderly parents in their very late 80s and mid-90s, respectively. One parent had issues with dementia and needed serious help with toileting and bathing, including lifting. The more independent spouse, who had health issues too, insisted upon completing these tasks for reasons that I have heard many times before: e.g., “We don’t want in-home care because we do not want anyone in our house.” Or “I don’t want my spouse placed in a senior living community when I can do this.” And “Money is an issue.” While sympathetic to such common reasons and the spirit of love and commitment behind them, I observed that the caregiving spouse was very small in stature and looked tired and frail. I had no idea how they were completing the caregiving tasks without getting hurt. Needless to say, something needed to be done for both parents’ well-being.
My client had arranged for me to meet the couple via a Zoom call. When I observed the senior with dementia, I found that by engaging them in conversation that they loved to talk about their hobbies and seemed to be thrilled to have someone to talk to. The senior was very talkative and social. In contrast, the person doing the caregiving looked very fatigued and frail. In addition, I learned there was another adult child living with the couple who supposedly sat with the person with dementia (PWD) but wasn’t engaging in any of the caregiving. When I suggested that it might be a good idea to hire a caregiver who could engage in conversations with the PWD about their beloved hobbies, I received pushback from the resident child who said, “I can do that.” I also pointed out that a hired caregiver could provide an opportunity for the caregiving spouse to take time for respite and freely do whatever they wanted to do for several hours each day. Again, the caregiving spouse objected, claiming “I really don’t need that.”