When you’re trying to evaluate your options for geriatric care it can be helpful to listen to those who have gone through the experience. With that in mind, we spoke recently to 60 year old Justin, who reflected on his experience finding care for his late mother Maria, deceased at 87 years old and a native to Narberth, PA. Here’s what Justin had to say about his experience:
“In my mom’s case, I had her in a really nice assisted living facility, living independently. The assisted living facility was absolutely perfect in many ways. She was on the 7th floor in a beautifully furnished apartment. All of her meals were taken care of. She was living independently. On the surface it looked great but she just wasn’t happy. She liked people. And she was a real family woman so she missed living near to her loved ones. She didn’t like eating with strangers. She never took to it. So I realized she needed to be in her own place. Compare the costs of different types of senior care.
When I figured that out, I moved her into a place right down the street and hired some folks to live with her full time. The process of finding the right people and the right fit was a difficult one. It took me six months of trial and error. Different people. The struggles getting to that point were difficult - not without their challenges - but once I found the right people, my mother’s frame of mind started to improve in a noticeable way.
We ended up working with two different caregivers that essentially each worked 3.5 days per week; my mother needed round-the-clock care. They stayed over, cooked for her, cleaned for her, bathed her and took care of her when she needed to use the restroom. Everything! Each caregiver actually had a little bit of a different routine with my mother. One of them cooked for her a lot while the other one took her out to eat...so she got a little bit of both. It was great. Kept things interesting and exciting for my mom.
One of them used to take her gambling twice per week. My mother used to love to play the nickel slots. She reveled in sneaking out to gamble. Never told me where she was going. Of course Bertha (her Home Health Aid) told me. Makes me smile thinking about it now.
The most important thing though is that my mother had a very peaceful end stage in her life. She died in her sleep one morning after breakfast. It's very difficult to lose a parent but I sleep well at night knowing she was happy in the end and felt very loved. Our setup turned out to be really affordable as well. Most importantly, I could just tell she was happier in her new surroundings. Here was the thing though - not only was she happy, our setup allowed me to not have to do the day-to-day stuff myself. She was incontinent. So the home care allowed me to enjoy my time with her right up until the end. And that was the beautiful thing of the whole set up.”
A few differences Justin noticed between the assisted living facility and his setup with in home care for his mother.
The assisted living facility was beautiful - really nice accommodations but she felt lonely there. It was only 5 miles from my house and I went there every day I was home to visit with her. Something about the 1-on-1 attention she got with care at home from a few people that she got dedicated attention from made a big difference. She developed a relationship with the two caregivers helping her. They became her best friends. This made a tremendous difference in her happiness day-to-day.
The food was great at the assisted living place - particularly for a large organization. Very good. Still it didn’t compare to eating at home with the caregivers that became her close friends.
The assisted living facility had all kinds of activities - you just had to sign up for it. My mother was a great Bridge player, loved to oil paint, spoke Italian fluently and taught a class into her eighties. My mother never did any of that at the assisted living facility - she just kind of retreated away from it. Seems like a great thing but it wasn’t the right fit for her.
Justin and his mother Maria’s story is a somewhat common one in this often difficult stage of life and a lot can be learned from his experience. A special thanks to him for sharing his story.
If a loved one in your family might benefit from in home care, please don't hesitate to reach out to Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses. We are here to help with compassionate, competent care.