We are on the second time that Mom has had some falls and been to the hospital… and then the nursing home for physical therapy. I am now experienced enough to share this experience with you!
Our Hospital to Nursing Home Experience
A little over three years ago my Mother In Law fell in her house and had to go to the hospital after she had a seizure. We had to call the ambulance to take her, we didn't understand how the hospital worked and sure didn't understand how the nursing home worked.
Well Mom fell two times about a month ago and now I am a “hospital to nursing home semi-pro” so I thought I would give you some info about how it worked for us in case you are a newbie!
This time she went into the hospital, we visited a bunch and then she got Covid and we were kicked out. She was moved in the middle of the night to a nursing home and we found out the next day (not unusual!)
Now she is in the nursing home getting rehabilitation and our next step is to decide whether she can come home or if we need to leave her in to get more help (but that is a post for another day!)
Today I am going to tell you our experience with the hospital to nursing home part… which really freaked me out the first time, but now is pretty ho-hum because it is the second time we have done it!
Disclaimer… I am not a medical professional, I am only the caregiver of one person. These are my experiences that I share to help other caregivers. Any medical advice should be taken from a professional!
When Your Dementia or Alzheimers Mom Has To Go To The Nursing Home
Because of the nature of dementia or Alzheimers, many of our loved ones fall or hurt themselves and have to be taken to the hospital.
OF COURSE, this is super traumatic for the person going, but also for the caregiver who probably has no experience with this new kind of situation!
Both times Mom has been in the hospital I have sat there thinking…. please don't let her come home this way. Not because I don't love her, but because I am not capable of medically taking care of anyone who has medical needs beyond wiping a poopy butt.
Both times they have sent her to a nursing home to have occupational and physical therapy…. whew!
The first time we were super freaked out thinking this is the end and she will be in the home forever.
But the nursing home people are really good at their job and are working to help your loved one get a little bit of their strength and mobility back.
3 years ago Mom came home after a couple of weeks and, while weak and still a little weird, she was “dementia fine” for the next 3 years.
What Is Physical and Occupational Therapy?
I think of this as top and bottom therapy… the physical therapy is big things like walking and being able to get in and out of bed. The occupational therapy is things like dressing, getting stronger in their arms and more coordination things.
For our dementia Mom, this is about WAY more than just doing exercises! Because they are not family, she just does what they say to do and gets stronger. We have REALLY struggled with getting Mom to do anything physical, which is how we got in the situation we are in today!
Dementia Problems With Rehabilitation
Okay, now let's get into the truly Alice In Wonderland part of caring for a dementia loved one and the memory thing.
I was with Mom yesterday and she was complaining that she wanted to come home (who wouldn't want to come home?!?!) She said nothing has happened and she is just laying in her bed all day.
Well, she is getting physical therapy 2 times a day, every weekday, but she doesn't remember it!
Oh, and that memory problem, being in a strange place and not having things she recognizes around makes her memory problems even worse!
I have found that if I can sit in on at least a couple of each kind of session I can get great information about things to do with Mom at home.
Yes, they will give you a list of things to do with them, but the practical suggestions like not letting Mom get away with sitting in a recliner all day, every day was super helpful.
Her core muscles had atrophied and she wasn't able to sit up anymore because she had been laying down so much. I would have never known to make her sit in a chair unless that nice Eric from the home had told me about it!
As a dementia caregiver YOU have to be the working memory of your loved one. There is so much great information that these medical professionals can give you!
Another problem we had last time was Mom was put in a room with a “moaner”. The lady in the next bed would cry and moan every few minutes and it freaked Mom out A LOT (she still remembers that lady 3 years later, even though she has forgotten our middle daughter).
I wound up taking her to the day room and staying with her for hours until they could find another bed for her.
I was super pleasantly persistent that Mom couldn't stay in that room and that made a huge difference in getting her a new room.
Don't be mean, just advocate for your loved one in the best way possible!
Additional Resource :: 25 Fun Nursing Home Gift Ideas For Women (That Are Not Food)
Getting Out of Rehab
Okay, eventually they want to kick your Mom out of rehab and that is super scary too! She is further along this time so we are trying to figure out whether she can come home or if she needs to stay in for a while more.
Note: I am not qualified to talk about Medicare or any payments. Mom's insurance covers about 3 days in the hospital and then 2 weeks of rehab (that is what happened both times). Your Mom's insurance coverage may vary!
What will happen is that a few days before they release your Mom, they will have a “Care Talk” with you.
TAKE THE HELP!
The first time Mom came home they said that there were additional home care options available… like having physical therapists or nurses come into our home to help.
We didn't do that… mostly because I was super already overwhelmed with everything and she didn't want to do it so I gave in.
This time we KNOW about those people… they have come to our house and they are AWESOME! Again, because they are not us, she will do what they say and get the physical therapy she needs.
The ONLY reason we are considering Mom coming home this time is because we know that there are medically competent people who are available to help.
If you are having your Mom come home, take the help!
Hospital to Nursing Home Wrapup
Okay, that was a lot, and I am sure you are a bit freaked out right now. BUT know that this is something the medical community does every day and they have a system for making it work!
It is GREAT that there are people who are qualified to help and that your Mom is in a place where she can be helped if anything goes wrong.
I KNOW that “nursing home” is a scary word, but it isn't always a life sentence for your loved one. Mom came home for 3 years after the last time she was in and both times they really helped her to get stronger in a way that we weren't able to do.