Finding What You Need for Your Senior Family Member

Finding information was so difficult for me to accomplish when my grandparents were alive. It was not easy to locate things which should have been absolutely the simplest thing to do. Here I’ll put together as much information (and as quickly as possible) as I can so that your quest will be easier than mine. Should you have ANY questions regarding caregiver companies, housing, etc., I am an intense researcher so there’s a good possibility I can make recommendations (or lead you there). I make NO guarantees or promises and I will not be responsible for information I offer. It is up to you to do more research with what I’ve provided.

First, a bit of background…

When my friend decided she wanted to move into a senior living facility, I never imagined how I would eventually become as involved with the one she chose.  She lived there for a few years before my grandparents needed more than at-home caregiving.  After much consideration, Kathy chose Sanctuary at Bellbrook Senior Living Community in Rochester Hills, Michigan.  She had a 2-bedroom, 1 1/2 bathroom, 2nd-floor apartment with a balcony, which worked wonderfully for her.  They allowed certain pets so she was able to bring her cat (shhh…don’t tell them that at one point I found her a sick baby she couldn’t resist and nursed her back to health, so she had 2 but she was only supposed to have 1—LOL).

For many years, my immediate family became the main go-to for my grandparents as their health deteriorated. My mother lived several hours away, and my other family member just wasn’t around like they could’ve/should’ve been.  As my grandparent’s (particularly my grandmother at the time) health continued to decline, I fought tooth and nail (specifically) with my grandmother to hire a caregiver company I found, Home Helpers of Washington, MI.  My grandmother insisted she was fine (even when she put the milk in the stove, or couldn’t remember that she hid the chocolates in her stereo for safe keeping) and needed no help.  She became an unsafe driver and her doctor even gave her a do-not-drive prescription.  Eventually my grandmother’s disease made its way into making her unable to care for her health, often fell, and became accusatory (and that was just the start), insomuch that she believed the caregivers stole her money (and I stole from her checkbook, by the way), even after we were able to prove to her that the money-in fact, was still very much in the place she put it (my husband found it in the garbage can).  The girls who cared for my grandmother did an awesome job!  The price was considerably more than I wanted to spend but because they were needed (I’m only one person and have a family of my own and couldn’t do more than we already were which was ALL the time), actually treated my grandparents with great care and loved them as their own family, I would recommend them.  In time, my mother and I felt that because my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s was worsening, it was necessary that they needed full-time senior housing with necessities for the future, and I searched for accommodations, which would allow them to have as much of an independent life as possible.  My grandparents were not excited at all about the prospect, and fought (near to their passing) about it often with me.  We had to have some serious pro/con discussions because we had to uproot them from everything they knew and, reluctantly, they eventually acquiesced and became on-board with the idea.  Because it was their lives that would changed, we visited a few locations to ease them out of their reluctance.  It helped that I was familiar with the facility, so we (with my mother and my other family) unanimously decided on the same community in which my friend, Kathy, lived.  Because my grandparents had an 1100 sq. ft. 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condominium with a basement and attached garage, and 50+ years of marriage, let’s just say it was a tremendous undertaking when it came to downsizing to their 744 sq. ft. 2-bedroom apartment.   I got a lot of flack because they had to let go of so many memories (but also many, many overwhelming amounts of accumulated unfinished projects, fabric and patterns my grandmother had from her store back in the 70s, and much, much more); my mother helped when she could. It was difficult for me to have to funnel through the things which may have meant so much, and I was accused of many things and had to toughen up through their onslaught of bones to pick (as my grandfather would say) with me; I often had to call my mother to be the mediator for my grandfather to stop harassing me. I also had to warn my grandparents that while they thought I didn’t care, and was supposedly trying to take everything from them, I had to express that I was doing whatever I could to help, and I needed them to allow me to do so or I would stop coming to see them; it was immensely difficult and hurt terribly to have to make that claim.  I have to admit that I had to take a lot of things to donation centers, offer it for free, and have a very large sale throughout the entire house and basement; my grandparents home was for sale at the time so we did it without the constant comments on how much things should cost.  It turned out to be a very disappointing weekend because there was construction being done on the main direction of the street so we had very little traffic.  Needless to say, I scrambled with many trips to Salvation Army (only several yards away but the vehicle was necessary for transport), and free pickup via Craigslist.  There were some things which were so difficult to find takers, but eventually we finished and were finally able to concentrate on their future.  As time went, my grandmother’s health continued to diminish and she was often in the hospital.  I cannot count how many middle-of-the night or even hours-away calls I would receive because my grandmother was “again” in the hospital.  UTI’s became commonplace because even when the caregivers would help her at their apartment during the week, she would not realize that she needed to care more for her hygiene, and drink water more often.  She would be in the hospital for many issues, and then would have to go to therapy, which, thankfully was always available at Sanctuary’s rehabilitation section of their community; it was even better for my grandfather because he was able visit her anytime he wanted via a walk to the other side of the building and up one floor.

To be continued…