Posted 4/6/2015 10:55 AM (GMT -7)
My father went into an Alzheimer's unit within a local nursing home, which made it much easier for him since we were there often. The unit was designed where one could not just wander or sneak off as it had a near one-to-one staff/patient ratio who were constantly with the patients, the doors could only be accessed with a code or someone letting you in or out, just for patient safety. They had an outdoor garden area just for them that was encompassed by the home's walls, but the patients could be taken anywhere within the building and grounds as long as someone was with them, and of course we could sign him in and out to take him home, the doctor, to eat out, etc.
When my father was placed there, he had been hospitalized with a severe infection which ramped up his dementia. The Alzheimer's effect on his major organs somewhat outpaced the dementia and he improved mind-wise once the infection subsided but needed the constant medical care that we could no longer do at home. Daddy hated it at first, but he was gregarious by nature and with his medications helping stabilize him, he came to enjoy his time there and he was able to leave the Alz. unit and be in a regular room after a few months, and with the use of an ankle bracelet that would set of an alarm if he went through the door by himself. He had spent the last ten years of his life caring for my mother who had Parkinson's and even in the nursing home, when he was feeling better physically, he would do things for others, especially getting coffee for his roommate. When he worked, he would make the coffee in the office before he would make his rounds in the plant and he sort of carried that with him, making his rounds checking on people in their rooms. He would even ask to go into the Alzheimer's unit to check on other patients he had come to know. And he loved singing as the words to songs were still there in his mind. He could hardly breathe with his COPD, but he would still sing hymns every week, though his ability to read had pretty much left him. He was an avid newspaper reader before all this, so I had his paper delivered to the home and even though he couldn't read more than the headlines, the paper kept him anchored to the days of the week and it was a habit he was used to at home. Little things can make a difference.
I know it can feel like you're abandoning a loved one when it comes time for placement, but it's not. I know Daddy's case was probably not typical, but I know his quality of life improved at the home. The facility he was in was not fancy, but it was clean and had a good staff. We could visit any time, call any time and he could call us. He passed away 2 years ago from aspirational pneumonia after he lost the ability to swallow. I miss him, but I know we did the right thing. I hope you can find a good facility for your husband, and try not to feel guilty about doing what needs to be done for both of you. -Joy