Your loved one has reached the dreaded “point of no return.” He or she has reached a point in his or her disease process where they can no longer care for themselves. In some cases, the person has been adjudged a danger to themselves and others. The condition of the patient has gotten to a point where the caregiver himself or herself can no longer manage the patient.
There was a situtation of that sort in the Koolbreeze household. When Dad came down with the colon cancer that rapidly spreaded throughout his body, and had at this time hit his brain, my Mom and I could no longer care for him; he had clearly become a danger to himself and others. He had a colostomy bag, and a bag for his urine as well, for the tumours had also invaded his kidneys, disrupting their normal functions. But the key thing is, it had hit his brain. It had interfered with the part of his mind that had to do with normal reasoning. He became violent. He hated the fact that he was tubed down,and prevented from moving around like he used to. He was beginning to threaten to kill us if we didn’t let him wander around out of bed all night, something that clearly could have caused him to do great injury to himself or someone else, as strong and hostile as he was.
The situation got so bad that Mom and I had to cease treating him ourselves. In fact, the hospital, after examining him, along with the social worker that had worked with us, recommended nursing home care. It was clear that he was not going to get well, and the position of the cancer in the brain had rendered him not responsible for his actions, even if he was going to hurt the very people that loved him. So we made the painful decision I hope you who are reading will never have to make: we had him placed in a nursing home.
Before any of you do this, I strongly recommend you seek the Face of God about it. Pray that it’s the decision God wants you to make in your circumstance. My mom and I prayed about it constantly. Make sure it’s the way to go, the only way to go given the circumstances of the patient’s illness. If that little still, small voice tells you that now is not the time, you would do well to heed it. You don’t just throw someone away just because they’ve become a burden to you that will keep you from living your life as you please. Especially when it comes to our parents, for Scripture tells us we are to honour them.
Aside from seeking God about it, we sought the wise counsel of the professionals who were working right alongside us as we continued to care for my dad. That professional could be a pastor, a doctor, or a social worker. Also seek their advice on the legalities of it. For instance, in our case, we were told that unless my Dad had a writ saying that he was unable to handle his own affairs, his wishes would have to be taken into account. A person who is of sound mind cannot be drug into a nursing home against their will.
CHOOSING A NURSING HOME
If that person is not of sound mind, and the nursing home becomes the best choice for the ailing or near death individual, then it’s time to make the choice of a home. The first thing I would advise you to do is to get a list of names of local homes in your area. Check out their reputations. This could probably be best accomplished by asking around, and by Googling them on the Internet. You may, for example–if you want to Google Boulevard Temple in Detroit–you would enter “Boulevard Temple Complaints.” If there are any complaints, they sure will be there in black and white. (Sidebar: Boulevard Temple is just an example of a nursing home.) Also check them out with the Better Business Bureau. If they are absent from there, that will most likely mean that they’ve had few complaints.
THINGS TO WATCH FOR
Look at how they treat their residents. Are there reports of sexual and physical abuse? Have there been stories of people being fired from the building for improper behaviour? Are there reports of residents spending hours in their own urine or booboo? I mean, I have walked into some hospital beds, finding them smelling of feces and urine–all day. Any smell of that magnitude and type should be an automatic red flag.
Secondly, is the place clean? This is yet another very important question. For it is said that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Don’t know if that is true or not, but here’s what I do know: It is very important that any nursing home, hospital, or whatever, is kept clean so as to avoid infection. People in such situations need only become infected a little bit in order for it to turn into something lethal. Their resistance is low, and their immune system works pretty much as that of a person with HIV or some other immune disease. It is very weak, because so many T-cells, or helper cells, are gone Any germs can make whatever situation that already is worse.
Thirdly, are the caregivers friendly? They are being paid to care for your loved one. So–I am an advocate of paying them a visit. If they seem rude to you, or to other people they are caring for–it would stand to reason that your loved one will probably be treated the same way by them. For this reason, it’s very important to visit your loved ones regularly. If you don’t they will assume that you threw them away. They are not going to treat your loved ones any better than you can.
Fourth–talk to staff regularly. Ask them questions like how is he or she doing, how is the loved one adjusting to assisted living, or whatever. Then watch. Observe their body language as they are answering you. Their body language could indicate guilt, maybe over abuse; some anger, or even anxiety, that they are being checked up on. If they are doing the right thing by your patient, would there really be anything to hide?