Last month, the organisers of the Wednesday (Memory) Group considered some of the issues that arise when a loved one needs to go into a care home. Placing a relative in care might seem to be the solution to all the problems you have struggled with for so long. The reality is that it is often just the beginning of another set of difficulties. It takes time to adjust to the new circumstances and work out when it is best to visit, how often, how to ensure the person in care is properly looked after and their individual needs are being met. The best way to address most of these matters is by talking to the care home staff.
An excellent way of beginning to think about the things that are important to the new resident is to help them fill in a ‘This is Me’ form, downloadable from the Alzheimer’s Society website. On this you can record important background information including what they like to be called and how they prefer to be treated. You can list things that may upset the person and what is most likely to help calm them should they become distressed. The completed form can be given to the home staff or left somewhere they can see it easily when interacting with the resident.
Perhaps the most difficult problem for a carer to cope with is the sense of guilt that so often follows placing a loved one in care. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that we have done our best in extremely difficult circumstances. There is no cure and no way we can compensate for the damage to the brain inflicted by dementia. What we can do is continue caring, loving and trying to understand.
For more information on the Wednesday Group, contact Jan on 01777 709974.