Since we decided to bring mum home I have experienced a wide range of strong emotions. Mostly a feeling of relief that we got the right decision and an eagerness to get started; but also occasionally, fear and foreboding about my world getting smaller and having less freedom to go back to my own home.
I am so grateful to the professionals that were present in the Best Interests meeting who had confidence that bringing mum home could work for both of us. The care home managers were the people in the room with most reservations, understandably enough. They felt mum was better off where she was, and were concerned I wouldn’t be able to cope with mum at home. Most importantly, I felt hugely grateful to Jack my husband, and Christine my sister, who had privately expressed their concerns to me, but in the meeting supported my wish to bring mum home vocally and unreservedly.
I hardly slept the night after the decision. Although relieved, the doomsayers’ words of the last couple of years came to visit me throughout the night. The doomsayers of course are professionals and family carers who are all too aware of the emotional and practical challenges of caring for someone with more advanced dementia. I should emphasise that I completely appreciate their cautionary advice, and consequently, have not taken the decision lightly.
I made the mistake of posting my decision on Alzheimers’ Society Online Forum, requesting advice and tips from other family members in a similar situation. The initial rush of responses simply urged ‘Don’t do it!’ though in rather more words.
Even now, I am conscious how emotionally frazzled and physically tired I get when mum is upset, anxious or simply feeling down for prolonged periods. And to be honest at times I do worry that I won’t be able to cope.
But that brings me back to the main reason mum is coming home. It seems that most of her distress is directly related to her being at the care home, even though the country setting is beautiful and the staff are caring. I believe simply having family around will go some way to making mum much calmer. In stark contrast to many family carers, I am in the fortunate position of being able to focus on mum for a while, without having to juggle other responsibilities.
So, my current priority is putting in place things that will support both mum and I, when she comes home. The plan involves social services, occupational therapists, health professionals, family and friends and includes:
- Getting the house dementia-friendly and ready for mum’s return;
- Organising a menu of meaningful activities to promote mum’s wellbeing throughout the week;
- Having ready a set of tasks that mum can help with to promote her sense of usefulness;
- Planning a short meditation and yoga session to try out and continually adapt to support mum’s health and wellbeing;
- Preparing and freezing lots of healthy meals in advance to leave more time for the other stuff;
- Recruiting dementia-trained carer/s so I can have some time off.
I will write posts on some of these topics as I prepare to bring mum home over the next month.