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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Goodbye to the Memory Care Unit December 3, 2014

I return to Ecclesiastes often, especially the part from which the song Turn, Turn, Turn was taken.
"To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven."
Cousins Deb and Nate sang and performed the song at our wedding 24 years ago.
This time the purpose was to move my Alzheimer diseased spouse from the safety of his memory care unit to the smaller environment of a group home where he will live among ten people rather than among 22.

This is the third out of home placement for him. The first assisted living facility worked well for a while, while my spouse's self-care skills were still intact. It was hotel resort-like with lovely furniture and several areas for reading or watching television. He was able to enjoy the delicious chef-prepared food and a studio apartment with the privacy he wanted, but which was situated right across from a staff office so he could be monitored for safety. He remained there for a year.

When he needed more hands-on care, my husband moved across the street to a special, brand-new unit which was geared for Alzheimer's and other dementia residents. The staff dressed in red shirts so the residents could identify their helpers. The food was cut for the residents so they could eat indpendently, entertainment was provided in the Day Club where the residents could socialize. All good for the past three years.

But now, my husband no longer recognizes his room, he is distracted by the many people, he wanders around the large space aimlessly and he needs more one to one care than the large unit can provide, so we found a lovely home for him which suits his needs better at this time.

When a loved one needs out of home placement, the caregiver's job is not over. We are continually responsible for the resident's life, to see that his needs are being met well, not merely minimally. Our loved ones deserve the most care and dignity possible and sometimes, that requires a move, even though the change was difficult for me--I was so connected to the staff members, the residents and their families it was hard to say goodbye. Everyone was so loving and caring for us all.

The only constant in life seems to be change--except perhaps from a vending machine!! 


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