We all want what is best, but we don't all agree on what that is...
Maintain Me would like to Thank Melinda Boyd and Dr. Wegner's office for being a steadfast community partner for 4 years strong. Thank you for your dedication to positive outcomes for your patients and for trusting Maintain Me to be your valued resource. Without your support, we could not reach the number of families that we do!
I came to meet Ginger last July. She is a devoted mother to 6 children, an avid outdoor enthusiast, and long time volunteer. Unfortunately, dementia was starting to take it's toll on her ability to care for herself. Her family had developed an elaborate and detailed plan to help her stay independent in her home. But this too, was starting to take its toll on her kids. Caregiving does not come naturally to all, nor does the ability to keep someone with dementia safe in their home, no matter how badly you want it to be. Ginger's kids were truly doing everything in their power to keep Mom at home: going to classes to learn how to be better care partners, taking turns moving into Mom's house so she was never alone, and keeping constant communication among themselves so not to miss an appointment or update.
I was also kept in the loop. I knew each of her 6 kids played a different role in her wellness. One did the finances, another her medications, another tried to keep her socially engaged and the like. So I offered, that any one of them could reach out to me with questions because they all had different ideas of what was "best for mom".
Then her daughter called me in tears. "My siblings are all mad at me because I told them I could no longer be Mom's carepartner. It is too difficult for me, and I lose my temper. I get sick with anxiety knowing that I cannot safely care for her, but I know that I can't. My brothers and sisters tell me I have no choice, but that is why I am coming to you for help. Her care is getting to be hard for all of us, but I am the only one willing to see what else is out there, because I think there is better."
I agreed that there are lots of options! And we could start with the smallest changes and see if that helps, and work our way up to transition to a Memory Care if the need was there.
I helped introduce Ginger and her family to the Senior Resource Center. She attended regularly, and I actually had my first meeting with her there too! We talked for two hours about skiing in Colorado, our favorite Front Range hikes, what flowers she liked to grow in her garden, and her favorite memories from the hundreds of hours she spent volunteering and giving back. Working with Ginger, I could see why her children were so dedicated, because she was a wonderful person that had passed on her values to her children.
Ginger was doing well with Adult Day Programming, but I knew that there may still come a time that she would need more care. I encouraged the family to let me offer a few names of places to consider and possibly tour, just so we had a 'plan b' in case that Mom's care needs continued beyond their abilities to provide... and helping her daughter educate her siblings on what "other options" might be available to their Mom.
We toured 15 places over several months! The most I have ever done with any client before, and that's OK by me. I was grateful that there are so many options for them to consider. I wanted them to find "the best" for their Mom.
Now this carries a lot of weight in a family where they were divided on what that meant for their Mom. I also helped them modify their plans to where the one child that did not feel safe being Mom's caregiver could be my point person to share the information down the line, help organize the siblings that wanted to come on tours, make sure that all tour notes where shared with the group after each visit, and so on. She was a key to Mom's care success, her time spent was likely doubled with her new role, but it helped the collective in a way that matched her strengths.
After months of research, and a few close calls with Mom falling, the family came together and decided on a place. We toured this community 3 times-- and they went on their own several times as well.
I encouraged this!
Ginger has been settled for a little over a month now. While it took a little time, Ginger has adjusted, and her kids are enjoying quality time with their Mom versus the constant worry if they were doing enough to support her.
Morgan Leigh Jenkins, MA