Over the past year, following the loss of her partner of ~20 years, my mother (nearly 76) has begun to decline, cognitively. We have a neuropsych eval set up for a few weeks from now (finally- it took FOREVER get her on board and then to get the appt.), so I hope we'll have more information about what's actually going on soon. (Her own mother had Alzheimer's and we suspect that might be what's happening, but it could be some other sort of dementia or even a brain tumor, I suppose.) The details are not terribly important right now, but one of the ways she's changed is that she's become quite gullible and believes nearly everything she reads if it comes in the mail; one impact this has had was her signing up for almost every sweepstakes (damn that PCH!), believing their inflated claims about her being 'the next winner'! She also seems to have gotten on the mailing list of every 'medical' journal and direct-mail company promoting 'medical' breakthroughs (these read like tabloid magazines to me). She, fortunately, no longer has much ability to actually order anything she reads about (no checking account and credit cards have been closed), but it doesn't stop her from being taken in by their claims and telling me all about the 'amazing work of Dr. Sears'. (I've put her on all sorts of 'do not mail' lists and submit removal requests with the 'companies' I find in her mail, but things don't seem to have abated much.)
That was all a long preamble to my question: since she seems to believe nearly everything that comes in the mail, I'm wondering if I can use that to my advantage in some way? I've been trying to convince her to move to a community where she will be with others her age (I believe she's lonely but won't admit it), with support and structure that will alleviate my anxieties about her, and while she's open to it, in theory, she won't take any action, herself (perhaps she is incapable). Maybe if I can have her sent some information in the mail that shows these communities in a really positive light and addresses the cons of staying at home, she might start to believe THAT.
Of course, everyone has a right to self-determination and maybe I don't actually know what's best for her; I just think she should open herself up to the idea of AL, as I think she would be happier and I would worry less. She has become very reliant on me not only to help with lots of little 'situations' she gets herself into but also for companionship. I live about 30-40 min away and see her once or twice a week (with calls in between visits), but I can't be there all the time. I just think she might have an opportunity to really thrive in a community where there are fun activities and people around for both support and companionship.
So, if anyone has a resource they can recommend, I would appreciate it! Something that I could request to be mailed to her. I know that many AL facilities would be happy to send their brochures, but I'm looking for something more 'objective' and general in nature, not necessarily a sales pitch for a specific facility.
Thank you! This is my first time posting, but I pop in every now and again and have appreciated the insights of the community here.
So my message is good news/bad news. Yes, A Place for Mom will help you find facilities, but be prepared for the hard sell - kind of like buying a car.
Check with an attorney or two that deals with senior issues they probably have information
My mother is the same way, she also loves to get mail, gives her something to do.
My mom is a member of a church group and one of the meetings included an assisted living presentation that I thought was pretty interesting. The handouts had some really nice pictures of the rooms, floor plans, and gave prices for each floor plan. Activities and support they offer were discussed.
Your plan is a pretty good idea since she reads mail and gives thought to what comes in the mail. Can't hurt to try.
Getting AL info by mail can help, to get her thinking about it. Better it comes in the mail, so it isn't you pushing it. But, as others suggested, visit places, check them out first. Narrow the choices, have them mail brochures.
Ask lots of questions. Wander about, take in the sights, sounds, smells. Narrow your choices based on observation and what she can afford (factor in potential increase in costs - AL will tack on if she needs add’l services, MC is inclusive for most services, but not always.) Consider places that allow transition - if she does have/gets dementia, moving is hard (another reason to move NOW not later.) Then schedule a visit with her - they bring on the VIP treatment, lunch, tour, etc. I wouldn’t do multiples on a weekend, might be overwhelming and/or a turn off.
NOTE: If/when mom might need MC, it IS tax-deductible. AL only medically necessary costs are deductible.
Our mother used to do the tours herself, and planned for AL, but once dementia kicked in, NO WAY! When we chose the place, we brought her there. She liked it, only concern was who was paying. We told her the VA and Medicare. But, by the time she was home, she forgot why we were there. She thought it was a place for YB (he was with us.) We had to resort to trickery to make the move. Although getting cellulitis is very bad, YB used it to facilitate the move (fake letter from hospital.)
NOTE 2: I repeat whenever possible, as people don't fully understand POAs - MPOA/Hippa forms allow you access to information/contribution/decision making to treatments, DPOA allows you to manage financials/sign for the person, but it DOESN’T allow you to force anyone to move/do something they don't want to do. We found out the hard way! EC Atty told us this and said we'd have to go guardianship. Facility wouldn’t go for this. So, Plan C, have some tricks up your sleeve (mostly for those with dementia - if no cognitive impairment, they don't have to move and you can't make them!)
Oh the mail! Mom thought anything on the kitchen table JUST came in the mail. She would dig out old stuff and insist it was new (W2s, with Death Benefit for dad's pension was seen as notice someone died and left her money! I finally convinced her by showing tax forms, etc, but had no answer for why it just came in the mail - they were years old! I said they were stupid and dropped it, but took them with me. I had to "sweep" her condo of all paperwork soon after to stop this.) When I took over finances, I forwarded her mail and contacted each place to change the billing address. No need to use POA for most of them.
Problem with "junk" mail is that you only need to get one - they sell names/addresses to make money and then you get on the flood of mail. After forwarding mom's mail, they have started here. Sigh. You can't win!
UTIs - don't assume doc did the test. If you were with her, even if not in the room, you would have noticed. She would have to use a bathroom for a sample. As for odd behaviors, I was a skeptic until mom got one at the MC facility and later in the day/early evening she was out of control! We had to treat the UTI AND give her anti-anxiety to control her until it cleared. The second time was more recent, but manifested as bed-wetting at night - soaking the linens and herself! So, definitely test (you can try a home test first - not as good, but if positive, get an Rx to lab test! Culture is best.) Since treatment, the bed-wetting stopped. Who knows what else UTIs can manifest as!
Summary - Do the AL checking yourself first, repeat visit those you think mom would like/can afford, go w/out appointment, wander about, observe when no one is rolling out the red carpet, and at different times to get the whole picture. Once you narrow down choices, take mom for the VIP tours (stagger visits.)
Get UTI testing done!
I've always found great value in separate spousal vacations. You don't need to permanently leave her or get divorced. You just need some independent travel time. It's great for reconnecting to the world.
It would be nice if your wife supported the idea and was excited for you about trips you wanted to take, but maybe that's not the nature of your marriage.
She may balk about going to the neuropsych appointment at the last moment. My mom did; I told her that the doctor had ordered it so he could have a baseline from which to measure any changes that might happen when she was older (that was a bald-faced lie; both her geriatrics doc and the geripsych she was seeing suspected significant cognitive issues).
Tell her whatever you need to. Good luck and please let us know how you're doing.
I lost my brother to early onset ALZ before he turned 60.. and another friend with brain issues.. and someone else with cancer.
If she is a danger to herself and others get her somewhere, where you can pop in and see her anytime you want.
Best thing to do, is make a nice weekend of touring Assisted Living areas near your home, so she can be close to you, in case of emergencies. They will give you a nice tour, talk about all things that are availblee there, and give you a free lunch and sit in some activities like bingo, and all that good stuff. they will show you the car in which they drive their patrons around to different local stores and shops, and how fun it it. And she needs to be a happy participant in this as well, it is a two way street... There will be the basic move in fees. And if she needs medications dispensed to her, there may be additional fees for that. If she needs more care, they will include it when the time shows it is appropriate. If she can feed and walk her self clean herself and manage her meds, the monthly fee may be just the usual "rent". It all depends on the facility... And do check out the 6 packs in your area. Board n Cares.. Most of these places are one story with a permanent wheel chair ramp to the front door...
Being diagnosed with dementia does NOT mean that she can no longer assign POA, but it might make it more difficult.
To put it kindly, you are putting the cart before the horse. You need to find out about mom's finances NOW, before she has a diagnosis.
Get your mom a little book called "5 at 55". It's about the 5 documents that EVERYONE should have prepared when they are 55. Including POA and Health Care proxy. Get it done right now!
Your mom is pretty young for cognitive decline...has she been recently tested of a UTI? Urinary Tract Infections sometimes have no other symptoms in the elderly except confusion and odd behavior and can be easily resolved with antibiotics.
Also, please understand that you appear to be dealing with your mom as if she is fully her "old self"...you take everything she tells you as accurate. My own MIL was telling us what she ate for breakfast and lunch but when if fact she was not remembering she didn't actually eat. She'd even tell what she ate, but it wasn't true. IMHO your mom will need AL sooner than you think, unless you want to become her full-time caregiver, which you can, but you must go into that with your eyes fully open (just read all the thousands of posts on caregiver burnout on this website by well-meaning and loving family members).
Also, in a care community your mom will have much richer social interactions. Right now she is isolated and dependent on you. She is not "independent"...you are starting to orbit around her inability to perform activities of daily life. It is no longer about what she thinks she wants, but what she actually needs, and reality. No matter how nice a facility is, few are anxious to give up their homes for the unknown, so her resistance is totally understandable and common.
Finally, I hope your mom has all her legal ducks in a row so that you can be her legal advocate medically and financially. Make sure to sign the HIPAA release form at any doc's appointment or they won't be able to release any of her info to you. Good luck!
And fair point about her potentially not relaying accurate information to me- it's important for me to remember that! She may not be a 'reliable reporter' anymore.
And @BarbBrooklyn- very good points! I should have stated that my brother and I do actually already have POA and Health-care Proxy, respectively. She took care of that years ago. So, we do have the POA if/when we need to deploy it. I'd prefer to get her buy-in on moving before we have to force her so that she can get comfortable with a place, get to know others in the community, and feel like has some agency in the process before/if she progresses. (Perhaps, if I can get her to read something convincing, she might even think it's her idea!)
And, fortunately, we do have an overall picture of her finances (annuities that should pay decently well once she starts drawing on them). It's more a question of how much can we expect her to have access to with those annuities if she needs X type of care for Y many years; i.e., what range of monthly fees would be considered appropriate for her. She's in a lucky position to be able to (I believe) afford a decent place, which is why I'm pushing for her to consider it. I've told her that she's been frugal and made smart financial decisions (until recently!) over her lifetime for the very reason that she can be comfortable in her later years.
Then again, my cousin finally moved his mom into one.. She never knew the difference. She was mentally unable to see that she was moved.. She was happy. No change..
Ask the director of these places to send a glossy brochure with an invitation to lunch. Take her!
Se will be thrilled at the attention.