Outside of those sudden changes, when is it time? What are signs to pay attention to? How do you know when you should make that move to a nursing home, or if you can continue to make things work at home? Here are some signs that it’s time to consider nursing home care:
You’ve hurt your back or fallen when trying to lift or move your loved one.
Your loved one's Alzheimer's has progressed to the point where she tries to hurt you or exhibits other challenging behaviors, such as paranoia or frequent anger.
Your family member has wandered outside and become lost.
You’re dropping the ball with other responsibilities.
Your own health (either physical or emotional) is declining. This may include conditions such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety and depression.
Your most important relationships are significantly suffering.
You have surgery or another planned medical procedure coming up soon.
Your doctor has said that it’s time for nursing home placement.
Your loved one has care needs that you really can’t handle very well, despite your best efforts.
You've had friends or family members repeatedly express concern for you and encourage you to look into the option of a nursing home.
You already have tried other options and resources to keep your loved one at home and they just aren't providing enough assistance.
Financially, nursing home care is more feasible than paying for the amount of in-home services that would be needed to meet your loved one's care needs.
You display several signs of caregiver burnout. For example, perhaps you've lost your temper recently when your loved one was resisting getting dressed or was following you everywhere you went inside the house.
If one or more of these signs sounds familiar, it may be time to go forward with planning a move to a nursing home. Be sure to talk with others around you who are familiar with the facilities in your community and who can make a recommendation. Dropping in on facilities to visit can give you a feel for the place. Researching your options is key to choosing a good nursing home for your loved one.
Take the time to stop, even for a few minutes, and evaluate how you're doing. Are you coping pretty well and balancing the different needs in your life? Or are you running on empty, ready to bottom out
DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
Have you ever felt that if he argues with you or repeats the same question one more time, you're going to lose it? Or that you've had it up to here dealing with her, and you're at the breaking point? And how do you admit these seemingly awful feelings to anyone, when the person you're ready to lose it over is your spouse, parent, or dear friend
HOW MANY OF THESE SIGNS OF BURNOUT DO YOU HAVE?
You feel increased irritation, frustration, or anger over small things.
Your gentle, unhurried approach to providing care is disappearing or gone.
You raise your voice at your loved one more often lately. Later, you feel upset and guilty.
You often skip aspects of your loved one's care that are important to his or her well-being because they're just too difficult.
Your own mental health is declining; perhaps you're struggling with increased anxiety, depression, or insomnia.
Your own physical health is declining. For example, you've had to increase your high blood pressure medication or you've injured yourself when trying to transfer your loved one into a wheelchair.
Your own family is experiencing dysfunction, and your care for your loved one is harming your family.
If you rarely experience these signs, you're probably doing a good job of balancing your own needs and those of your loved one with Alzheimer's.
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING THESE SIGNS
Ask for help. Perhaps there is another family member you can ask to be more involved, or maybe you can get a few volunteers from a church or another social group to take short shifts with your loved one.
Consider hiring in-home help, such as companions or home health care who will provide assistance in the home.
Reserve time for you. You may even need to schedule it in your calendar.
Prioritize. Give yourself permission to acknowledge the challenges of being a caregiver and decide what you're going to let go in your "To Do" list.
Consider joining a dementia caregivers' support group. Check with your local Alzheimer's Association or even a local facility for times and locations near you. Sometimes it just helps to hear that you're not alone.
Ensure that you're still able to meet your loved one's needs well at home. For example, if he has wandered away from home more than once or if he has pressure sores on his skin because it's too difficult to physically move him or clean him well, these are clear signs that you need more support.
Still feeling empty or burned out as a caregiver? You may need to think about a brief period of respite care or even placing your loved one in an assisted living or nursing home. Although this may not be your first choice (perhaps it's the option you want to avoid at all costs), others have found places that provide loving care.