Lessons Learned: One man’s journey as an Alzheimer’s caregiver
- Published: 27 February 2016
One day while I was working at Cooley-Dickinson, I received an urgent phone call from Dorie. Jeanne had fallen in the hall, tore the skin on her arm, and was bleeding profusely. She had been on a medication for years that had the side effect of tissue-thin skin. I told Dorie that I would meet them in the Emergency Room of Baystate Franklin Medical Center.
While driving up, Dorie called me again to tell me that they were bandaging her arm and sending her home soon. I told Dorie I would meet them at home.I arrived before Dorie. The hallway where Jeanne had fallen was a bloody mess. I took the runner outside and hosed it down waiting for them to come home.
Shortly afterward, they arrived. Jeanne had a bandage from wrist to elbow. I held her hand and asked her what had happened. She looked at her arm and said, “I have no idea.” I wept. Still holding her hand, I told her that everything Dorie and I were doing didn’t seem to be enough. Even though Jeanne wore a gait belt, which allowed us to hold onto her when she walked around, this was her third fall in two weeks.
I also told her that I was being treated for depression.
She looked at me and asked, “What would happen to me if something happened to you, Mo?” We wept together.
That evening I emailed several friends. I asked two questions: “When is it time to place her? What can I expect?” I heard back from everyone within one day, and they all had the same two answers: “If you have to ask, it’s time,” and, “She will be fine, but it will be hard for you.”
The next day, I did some research and found that there were only two extended care facilities that met my criteria: locked Alzheimer’s unit, staff trained by the Alzheimer’s Association, excellent references from family members, and a good staff-to-patient ratio.
I scheduled a tour of the facility closer to my home and was very pleased with everything I saw. The intake manager told me there was one other person ahead of us on the waiting list, but she would let me know when a bed became available.
How to contact Mo