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How do you know when it's time for a home? Add to ...

Donna Macdiarmid: Your responsibility as a caregiver doesn NOT end when you place a loved one in a nursing home. You will still stay very involved but you will have more quality time, more time to just sit and be together. I felt guilty for a long time, Stephen, but I have learned that the nursing home setting is best for an Alzheimer patient. He is receiving stimulation, lots of people stopping to talk to him, to take his hand when they walk by, give him a hug. He is involved as much as possible in the activities which take place in the nursing home. This type of environmental enrichment is so good for him - could I possible have give him this at home? The answer is no.

carolcarol: My mother in law refuses to seek any help-she is embarassed that she has this illness. My father in law is getting burned out. What suggestions do you have for approaching her to let us get support. Should we go through the doctor? Thank-you

Donna Macdiarmid: Yes Linda, that is correct. The only people who really understand are the people who are going thru it. I have been attending the Alzheimer Caregiver support group meetings for over 10 years now. Friends and family mean well but just don't really understand.

Linda Jackson: Hi Carol. This is a very common issue that you are raising. I would try to find a supportive approach to bringing both or your parents to see a doctor or to connect with a community support agency. You could enlist your mother as a support for your father as a first step. Once connected the MD or another provider would understand your mothers feelings.

Linda Jackson: Recent research has indicated that support groups can be a wonderful resource for caregivers, and there are many such groups that are running across the Country. The Alzheimers Societies are a great first contact .

André Picard: We have an e-mail from a reader who wonders: I hate the idea of putting my Mom is a home. Is nursing home care inevitable or can I care her at home until the bitter end?

Donna Macdiarmid: Carol, I did't face this with Roger as he didn't seem to go thru the denial thing. I think in time this will work itself out but Linda's suggestion is a good one. Is there any way you could get her to attend a support group by convincing her that it would help your father?

The Globe and Mail: Does anyone have any thoughts on André's question?

Linda Jackson: More people are cared for at home than in nursing homes. However let me be clear that for some people this is the right choice at a certain time. To be successful caregivers usually need to enlist the support of local home support providers, who can provide professional services, and respite for the caregiver in the home.

Donna Macdiarmid: Andre, Sometimes care at home is possible until the end depending upon the physical and emotional strength of the caregiver and the support system available. This will probably require personal care workers to help out as the disease progresses and can become very very expensive even if the resource is available. It is difficult to predict what you can do - when the time comes you will know. Sometimes we cannot plan - we just do the care at home thing as long a possible. As I said before, it would not be possible for me to give Roger (at home) the kind of care and social stimulation he is receiving in a nursing home setting

marymary: I'm concerned about the possibility that my father may need care quite quickly...for the moment all is ok and my parents have in-home support but I'm thinking that it may not be too early to plan ahead in case his situation deteriorates quickly. Do you have any advice or comments regarding how far in advance one can/should plan for nursing home care? I don't want to seem like we are rushing it but we want to be prepared and not have to make hurried decisions when the time comes.

Linda Jackson: In most provinces people cannot technically apply for a nursing home until the person meets the criteria for admission, BUT, this should not stop families from starting to review the resources that are available and discuss the kind of environment that would be most supportive to a given individual. All nursing home will provide tours and should be willing to talk to families. Sometimes the thought of a nursing home is much more frightening than the actual facility itself.

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