An Unexpected Call for Caregiving Information
Since I have a landline as well as a cell, I sometimes juggle phones and calls. This call was from a relative who had a friend who had a relative in another state. Her relative needed to be admitted to a nursing home after a major hospital stay. The father-in-law was married for more than sixty years. His wife was not in need of any medical facility care.
If the projected stay had been a short term possibility, his wife and family could have made arrangements for visiting until their relative could return home. This was not the case here. The man was 91. Many of his functions were stressed or being supported medically. In a situation like this, the husband would be away from his wife for an undisclosed length of time. Or he might die alone without her or any member of his family present. Another complication was that every state has different facilities and arrangements for handling the various stages of aging.
In my four decades of experience in dealing with these situations in a number of family and friends’ situations, I’ve found that research is critical and saves a lot of problems in the decision making. There are usually more than one option. Physical needs of the loved one, emotional needs, insurance considerations, finances and family requirements are important issues that play a part in making a decision.
In this case, the emotional needs of the man and his wife were very important to the family. An added complication was the fact that most of the family members did not live close enough to support caring for the husband in the family home which was the wife’s choice.
A one size fits all answer rarely covers all complications or problems but there are resources available.
- Every state I have researched has government offices that offer a wealth of information. They can provide not only various options available but the locations offering the needed services. An internet search will provide a number of sites for all kinds of services and accomodations as it did in this case.
- Hospice is often not just for the last days of a loved one’s life. Again, every state is different. A call to the local facility will provide a list of their services and another perspective of your family’s situation. Doctors work to preserve life. Hospice works with you, your family and your loved one to have the care and comfort deserved as a life well lived is coming to completion.
Also, consider the family dynamics of this situation. These two people have spent more than sixty years together. Now, when he needs medical help and she does not, they most be separated. Unless this man is unaware of his surroundings, both are being forced by circumstances they can’t control nor change to separate. The possibility of emotional trauma is very real. The wife suffers. The family suffers. It is not unknown for the surviving spouse to not last long after losing his or her life partner.
Caregiving often requires creativity and research.
After a three way phone conversation with the daughter-in-law, she decided that the nursing home option wasn’t going to be their go to until the family explored other options in the father-in-law’s home state that might suit their needs better. Their financial situation and the desires of the two people most involved in the situation were major considerations.
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