As caregivers, we must be aware that the people we support often react to the change of seasons with heightened emotions. When my grandmother was first sliding into dementia, the simple act of packing away her summer clothes and bringing out her warmer winter wardrobe would make her anxious. Where were her belongings going, and would she get them back?
Then it happens; your loved one is admitted to the hospital and decisions need to be made about whether to go on to a care home or perhaps hire in-home care.
Are you ready? Have you explored options? Do you know the difference between in-home care vs a care facility? Is there an advanced directive in place? POLST if necessary? Do you understand Palliative Care? Hospice?
I think you get where I’m going here… prior proper planning. Family caregiving can be stressful and not being prepared, finding yourself in the throws of a major health shift can blindside you.
Still, as I try to be as ruthless as possible with deciding what to store until we find a new house, what to bring with us for the month or two we’ll be staying with my mother, and what to sell or give away, what I remember is all the ways Mom helped Grandma find comfort and a sense of home in a house that wasn’t hers, and I thought I’d share them here, because it’s something many of us will experience as our own parents age.
It’s a dilemma we all have as the people we love age, move out of their homes and into ours (or care homes) and eventually die. On the one hand, those family treasures are imbued with a ton of meaning. On the other, they’re just things, and keeping a clock or a table or even my stepfather’s collection of science and match textbooks doesn’t make my memories any stronger, just as donating or selling these things won’t diminish them.
Going to the beach, then, became something of an adventure. We had to pack extra clothing and hygiene products (we were all in California by then, and unlike New Jersey, the beaches there don’t all have restrooms and changing cabanas). Of course, we were all well trained in the art of changing behind towels held up by whoever was with you, but after my grandmother’s hip replacement, she needed a wheelchair, and that made things a bit more complicated.