About a year ago, I spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws as is the custom, but I, along with nearly everyone else at the get-together noticed that my mother-in-law was very quiet, ate almost nothing, and seemed out of it. Now, the entire family is having to cope with what ended up being an Alzheimer's diagnosis & having to decide when home healthcare might be the best option with which to go. In short, it's been a helluva change.
At first, the family was at a loss for what to do with the diagnosis. Some were shell-shocked and other were angry. When it came to my in-laws (Ma & Pops), they did not see the need for any alarm and did not think that there was anything wrong. Unfortunately, one phone call changed everything, and all of a sudden, everyone had to spring into action.
My brother-in-law went over for a check-up visit, and saw that my father-in-law fell, hurt himself pretty badly, and was laid-out unconscious. After seeing his dad in this state, he panicked at what might have happened to his mom. It turns out, she was not aware that anything had happened or that her husband was in any danger. Things had certainly changed.
Now, our lives are filled with physical & electronic calendars at everyone's homes noting doctor's appointments, divvying out who takes the in-laws out for groceries and other errands (they aren't allowed to drive anymore), and finding ways of trying to keep things as normal as possible for a situation that is anything but normal. The problem is that when you think things are moving in the right direction, you're quickly given a dose of reality. Between major health scares for my brother-in-law & an increasing severity in Ma's degradation, everyone is at or near a breaking point.
It's here where home healthcare has become an incredibly important topic for all of us. We've come to realize that there are a number of agencies in the area that provide services, but they aren't all the same. As such, if you're thinking about home healthcare for your family, make a list of the specialties & needs that have to be addressed by a prospective home healthcare service provider. This way, you can narrow down your search. It's also been important for my family to make sure that the agencies we look at put an emphasis on independence for those being cared for.
Ma & Pops are retired educators with decades of experience, multiple degrees (Dr. Pops to be specific), and have been married since the early 60s. They've made a successful life based on hard-work & grit. In fact, Pops still mows his own lawn & he's 81. Being able to maintain independence for them is essential to the whole family, and it's something you definitely need to keep top of mind.
Finally, the one thing I've learned about home healthcare is that it does more than just help those being cared for – it helps everyone. Therein lies the most important part of finding the right agency. We're still making things work right now, but now that we've started the conversation about home healthcare, everyone seems a bit more relaxed & confident that we can make the right call when the time's right. Every family is different, so if your family is thinking about home healthcare, have a plan, be patient, and take heart in knowing that things will be OK.