It wasn’t intentional. Our elder’s home needs some repairs, a few of them quite badly. The original plan had been to get them done while she was recovering in a board and care facility. That didn’t work out, so now we’re getting ready to do them.
The problem is that we didn’t consult her. The fact that she isn’t competent to make these decisions doesn’t mean she should have been left out of the discussion. It made her very angry, and after some thought, we agree with her. It shouldn’t have happened.
We are now correcting that problem. I will get estimates for doing the renovations and we will all sit down and discuss them. It is her home and she does have a right to contribute to the decision.
What we are discovering is that being responsible for our elder’s complete care has a very fine line. That line is between doing what needs done and allowing our elder to have as much dignity as she can. It’s hard for her. She can’t drive, she’s not allowed to handle her own finances, she can’t even go to the bathroom by herself.
This is not going to be easy. It’s going to cause hurt feelings on all sides. However, there are a few tips I’ve already learned that may help us avoid as much pain as possible.
Prepare her: Our elder was opposed to using a walker at all. After falling, she has to use it. The old type is unstable, but convincing her to try the newer, safer walker wasn’t easy. I spent two days telling her how much my mother loves hers and our elder asked the doctor for one before I could say anything. We will do the same thing with the repairs.
Listen: Just because she has dementia doesn’t mean she is without an opinion and the right to express it. In fact, she may have a few good ideas to offer. If possible, we will try to make some concessions to help her feel better about what needs done.
Show her: It’s hard for her to move around, so we may have to do this via photographs. Seeing the damage that needs repaired could help her understand that these are priority issues. Just proving the need may be all we have to do.
Get multiple estimates: This is another area we failed in at first. As I mentioned, we’d hoped to get this accomplished prior to her return, so I only got one estimate from a company that is well respected for that kind of work. I will get more now so that she can see the price ranges and help choose the one we eventually hire.
If you had told me that eldercare could be this complicated, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Experience in a nursing home is not at all like handling one person who wants to stay in her home. Hopefully our experiences will spare your family from learning the hard way.