JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

More Frustrations With Assisted Living Facilities

So, if you've been following along this blog, you know that my mom is in the later stages of Alzheimer's disease. She moved to her second Sunrise facility last year when the first one went WAAAYYY downhill. My family started out extremely pleased with how things were at this new facility, but recently, there have been a lot of problems there as well.

They're supposed to take Mom to the bathroom every two hours, but often when a family member comes to visit, she says that she has to go and often she has had an accident, which indicates that they haven't taken her. Sometimes she doesn't have a pad on or the pad is not on right, and then things are especially messy.

I sent flowers to Mom a couple of weeks ago, and several days after they arrived, Dad found them on her night table, outside of the box and dead, having never been put in water. It isn't just frustrating that I lost $50 there and that my effort led to there being clutter in Mom's room instead of something beautiful, its that there were supposed to be several shifts of people in her room, NONE of which apparently noticed the flowers or who somehow couldn't handle putting flowers in water. If they can't take care of flowers, it makes me worry about how well they take care of people.

There are almost no activities anymore for Mom, and she now wanders the halls. Dad says recently that he found her talking to a picture on the wall.

A meeting was arranged with Dad on Tuesday with the executive director, floor coordinator, and perhaps another staff person. Dad is pretty sure that they're going to try to raise Mom's level of care to the highest level (she came in at level one, a few months ago was moved to level two) in order to charge us more money. At first, Dad was surprised that they'll claim that she's gotten worse, but after talking it over with my sister and I, he seems now to agree that clearly she's gotten worse. The issue is though - to make sure that she gets taken care of properly and that if they'll charge us more, that she'll actually get more care.

I see now that this is probably the situation at most assisted living facilities - they look great, but on Alzheimer's floors, the expectation is that the care is not so great because who is there to notice or care. One other resident's caretaker moved them out recently and told my Dad that things are not right on the floor. At the time, Dad said he thought the person's complaints were unfounded, but I think that the only reason that Mom's care is okay at all is the fact that Dad is there all the time, and the staff know that he'll notice if something not right. But still, its frustrating not only to see the neglect of the other residents, but also that Mom is being treated the way that we hoped she would.

Part of me wants to be compassionate because I see that it is REALLY hard work to take care of people with advanced Alzheimer's - they don't remember you, they require tons of patience, they are difficult to engage. Still, I wish for something better.

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Blogger therapydoc said...

It's gotta' hurt, this stage. You do what you can do, is all.

Sunday, September 02, 2007 7:59:00 PM  
Anonymous dougf said...

We sell software to hundreds of assisted living communities. For the vast majority they try very hard to do a good job. Some, however, lack tools to help make sure that the staff knows what to do.

I suggest you ask the Executive Director to show you a list of tasks that need to be done each day for your mom. Sounds simple, but many don't even have such a list. If they cannot show you one, try the competition.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 7:37:00 AM  
Blogger Karma said...

The issue is that there is NO competition and since we just moved her 9 months ago, we wouldn't put her through moving her again....(Plus, where would she go?)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 8:03:00 AM  
Blogger Sharon K. Brothers, MSW said...

Hi Karma,
I've been there with my own mom and know that you often have no options. I truly believe that what you're seeing is a leadership problem, and that perhaps the owners themselves don't know what is happening. Often the only picture they see of the operations is the one reported to them by the administrator - who is, typically, the leadership problem.

I've also been on the owner/operator side, and while it's challenging to hear families report problems, I'd rather have heard about problems from families than from the front page of the newspaper or from licensing.

So try a couple of things:
1) Contact Sunrise ownership (you can email a message through their website as one way) and let them know your concerns. Express it in a way that tells them you are just giving them information so they can improve care - not trying to be a trouble-maker.

2) All communities have Ombudsmen who are mandated by the federal government to represent residents and families in assuring good care. Contact the Ombudsman assigned to your mom's community and ask him/her to see what can be done to improve care. This can be done in a positive way as well.

Good luck - keep advocating for better care since our loved ones often cannot advocate for it themselves.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Karma said...

Thanks Sharon, this is really good advice. Dad and my sister met with the director of the facility today and addressed some concerns. So, I'll give that a chance and see how things go. At the last facility Mom was at, I contacted both the ombudsman and Sunrise regional supervisors, but neither could really help me. Hopefully, it won't get to that point with Mom here, but that is an option. The scary thing about going down that road is that the facility can find excuses to kick Mom out or retaliate against my Mom to get us to move her out if I cause trouble....

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger April_optimist said...

What a tough situation for all of you. How lucky your mother is to have so many of you looking out for her even if the facility isn't doing everything you wish they would.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007 6:07:00 PM  

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