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Getting Help from Other Caregivers

Assisted Living Facilities continued...

Keep notes on your visits. A history of specific complaints might come in handy down the road.

Don't dismiss complaints just because they sound absurd.

"Dad kept complaining about the snakes that were under his bed -- he could see them come running out every morning. I searched under the bed and even convinced him that there was poison under there, but the 'snakes' persisted. One morning I was helping him get breakfast, and Sylvia, who mops the floor every morning, came in and started mopping up around the bed. Dad went ballistic. 'There they are again!' he shouted. It was the mop, as it turned out. With Dad so groggy in the morning, I could now see how easily he was confused. I've asked Sylvia to hold off on releasing the 'snakes' until after Dad is up and dressed. It worked!"
-Elvie Nadell

If your parent has a favorite way of doing something, don't be shy about telling the staff, no matter how "silly" the routine might seem. A favorite cup, the company of a teddy bear, or a special way of saying goodnight can make life seem normal again for an older adult whose life has been uprooted.

If Dad objects and becomes dejected when your visit is over, know that he will most likely recover soon after you're gone. It may help your peace of mind to call later and ask a staff member how he is doing. While you're guiltily picturing Dad staring out a window, pining away for you, he's probably absorbed in a game or TV program.

The housekeeping service usually takes care of everything. But if there are certain pieces of clothing that require special care and would be better off handled at your local dry cleaner, let the housekeeping department know and write the instruction ("hold for home laundry") right on the label.

If lots of people are visiting, they shouldn't all leave at the same time. Being left behind by a crowd can be devastating for your loved one, no matter how much fun the visit was.

Many senior facilities make it possible for residents to attend neighboring colleges and take adult education courses off the premises. Find out if that's a possibility.

"We've had lots and lots of wonderful family parties here. We have birthdays and holiday dinners, and we even had a couple get married here once. But when Miriam Snyder got her college diploma, her graduation party was the best yet. She was seventy-three!"
-Simon Hirsch

Lots of short phone calls throughout the day are better than one long one. Organize your family into a phone brigade.

Urge your mother to volunteer her services. Even those with mobility and other problems can help in the library, in crafts rooms, and at game time.

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