Need advice on money gift....

sharburkJanuary 4, 2007

Hello, I'm new to posting here. I've been dealing with my Mom's health and living situation for the past two years. She has Alzheimers/dementia. She is 85 years old. I know my limitations and know I cannot have her with me full time and it is a full time job.

I have her in a private home with 4 other residents. They have full time care. It is about 6 miles from me, so I can visit often. I like the workers there, they have been very good to her.

My questions is.... The owner of the home owns 6 of these houses, with multiple residents in each one. My mom moved in last January. While filling out forms, the owner, who does not work at one of them, just runs them, said that if we want to give to the workers, a good time would be at holiday time. As the holidays rolled around, we received a letter from the owner, listing the workers at my Mom's home. About 10 of them. Again saying if we wanted to give them a bonus, Christmas was a good time. The more I thought about it, the more I thought she was actually asking us to give money gifts to all of her workers. Isn't it her job to do that? Shouldn't the employer give a bonus to her employees? I can see giving a couple of them a token gift, chocolates, etc. Am I wrong? That would be 10 people to give to. Who gives to these workers, the resident, the resident's family?

I have four brothers, some cannot afford to give any. I might add that the fee to stay at this home is $5000.00 per month. We have just sold my Mom's house to pull out some money for her care. When it runs out, we'll have to regroup and decide then what to do..

I don't want to be the cheap one, but feel as if we are being taken advantage of.

Any comments here? What would you do? I know the holiday has passed, but I can always do something... I cannot ask my Mom as she has been there a year and cannot remember anyone's name, let alone make a decision like this.



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Sharon, most of the token gifts that you mention are a waste of money and a drag on the recipient. Sorry, but I do feel that way. Many/most organizations will ask that residents, or their families, contribute to a fund that gets distributed among the employees, and that is what the proprietor of your Mother's home should do. Some collect it on a monthly basis. I made sure that Mother's home got $5 a month for the whole year, divided among many more employees than you are dealing with.

A small token of $10 or $20 a person will be greatly appreciated, more so than some candy. A nice card, too, with a note. Most employees are perfectly well aware of how great the expenses are, and how much a burden this is on the families.

In your case, I'd have a face-to-face with the owner and suggest a joint pool for all employees, so then they don't sit and compare notes as to who is most generous or what. In fact, I think that it's the most equitable thing to do.

But having been there, done that, in another capacity, even a small cash gift is better than a token of chocolates or a coffee mug.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 11:26PM
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Thank you Fairegold for taking time to respond. I guess I will give them all something. I have felt that $25.00 was really not much, and yet it adds up to $250.00. To do more would get to be expensive. I do agree that a "token" gift would not be appreciated.

One of the places we visited as a possible place for Mom to live, specifically said that you were not to give anything to any employee. They had a system where if an employee did something that you appreciated or you felt they were extra attentive, you filled out a little form. The person with the most responses got something, I think it was a gift certificate to a store, and I think it was once a month. I would be willing to contribute to something like this. As you said, that way they would not compare notes and would know they got something because they were appreciated, but wouldn't know who chose them. This place was a much larger facility with many more residents and employees.

We have just moved our furniture back into our house after a remodel and have both been sick, so haven't had the time or energy to take care of this.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 12:23AM
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Sharon, I don't mean to say that small gifts are not appreciated, but sometimes those things get to be too trite. If you give candy to the employees, do you know that anyone is diabetic? Ask any teacher about how many coffee mugs she gets every year. And the care givers at the homes are probably minimum wage anyway, so $25 is a nice present.

Suggest to the home's owner that she institute something like this on a group basis for all her homes, to be divided among employees at the holidays or according to length of employment.

Another reason why many places have rules about no gifts is simple. A resident of the home is a "little" forgetful and gives away her belongings. The resident's daughter comes to visit and finds that an aide is wearing Mom's favorite sweater. That doesn't work. And there is the theft issue, as well. Which happens too often in these homes. Rules about no gifts help a lot to make management easier.

The bottom line is that your Mother is being well taken care of. All the employees like to be treated well, a nice word, remember names and the names of their kids, things like that go a long way to make a worker's load lighter. A sincere "Thank you" means a lot.

Sounds like your plate is very full at this time. I can relate to that myself!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 6:59PM
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Fairegold, I understand what you are saying about the small gifts for the home workers. I also know that things can be taken, because they have, too bad, but true.

I just returned from Mom's home, having her sign papers for the sale of her house. She was fine with this, but just before I left, she started with the "I wish I was dead, I can't wait to die", etc. It gets to me so.. And, she does it more to me than to anyone. I have four surviving brothers and she never says that to them. The psychologist that I've been taking her to told me that at that point I'm to say to her, "Mom, if you are going to talk like that, I have to leave". He said to then get up and leave, don't hesitate. He said that she is able to learn... I feel so guilty and come away with such guilt that maybe I could be doing something more to make her happy. But, I know there is nothing that will really help her.

My dad died four years ago this coming February and my Mom has gone steadily downhill since that day. Two broken arms, lots of falls, trips to ER, etc. Finally we decided she needs full time care. If I ask her what I can do to make things better, she will answer, "I just wish I was dead"...

This too will pass. I need to cover up with a afghan, have a cup of tea and take a nap.. This cold doesn't help and I've still not unpacked all of our boxes to move back into our house. Just venting!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 7:43PM
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Oh, dear Sharon, I completely understand what you must be feeling. My mother did the same thing, said those same words. And she never said anything like that to my three brothers, either, who were thousands of miles away and couldn't bother to visit. Then she's say, crying, that if she couldn't tell me how she felt, then who could she talk to? Even walking away, changing the subject, whatever, doesn't cut the hurt out of those words. I understand.

I gained 50 pounds, and my blood pressure, after a little session with Mother, would skyrocket.

Take care of yourself, please. You are already doing a wonderful job of taking care of your mother, but remember to look out for yourself, as well. And vent away, any time.



    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 12:03AM
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Connie Kru

Good Morning Sharon and Helene,
As to the gift, here is my input. My Mother was in a nursing home for 5 years++. I had my MIL with me in my home at the same time, so I did not visit my Mother as she was many states away. I did call her once a week and visit, but of course it got harder and harder to get her to visit with me even for a few minuets. My Mother was paying full price for her nursing home-most of the residents were on gov. aid. I never felt that we owed any one a large bonus at Christmas time-but then I don't give gifts to my paper man or postman either.
But I did sent token gifts at Christmas the last three years she was there. These were little tiny craft items. I call to see how many I needed. I was told 70-really surprised me that they had that many employee's as it was a small rural rest home. Because of these small tokens, I had many people write me thank-you notes, and tell me about my mother and their relationship in the rest home with her. When the funeral happened, many of the people made a point to come and seek me out and say how much the little Christmas Angel's had meant to them. So little things can have an impact.
I also did things like at Easter where I added money to the fund for buying more video's. Not a gift for the help, but maybe it made their work a little easier.

And as to the I want to die. I think most people in their position may feel this way and when you are their caregiver you are probably the closes person to them. I agree walking may be the best for you, but for them, letting them express it and then maybe asking, well if you are ready to die, what are somethings that you wanted to do in life, but you never got the chance. Maybe helping them journal about their life would help. They often just want to talk. I did this for my mil-we wrote her life story. We worked a little each day. Her telling about this and that. I got out all of her photos and she would tell me things and each time a little more would be added. I then typed and let her read it or would read it to her.
Hope some of this helps you.
Good luck and remember
If you don't take care of the caregiver you won't be a caregiver for very long.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 10:26AM
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Helene, you sound like my twin.. I too have gained a lot of weight and am now on blood pressure pills. In fact, the dr. is having a hard time getting my bp down. Working on our house this past year has been a diversion, something else to think about. I look in the mirror and I don't resemble the person that was there two years ago.

Connie, my Mother lives maybe 6 miles from me and for awhile I visited her every day. Every day was not enough. I've tried questioning her when she starts talking about dying, she says as soon as I leave she will find some pills, will go out into a street and get hit by a car, etc. I can't do it, it's beyond my capabilities to talk with her about this. Her home is small, there are just four residents there now. The manager and workers come and go each day. They have told me that the residents with physical problems are so much easier to deal with than those with the mental problems. I'm just trying to keep my head above water at this point.

My brothers came to visit last month and we went to a holiday block party, taking Mom. She started in with the dying bit, but she will look around the room to make sure that I'm looking and listening before talking about it. There was a men's barber shop quartet singing Christmas carols, beautiful food everywhere, and I was dealing with Mom and dying. To be honest, it makes me not want to take her anywhere. I know that sounds terrible. She has been a wonderful mother, this is not her, in my wildest dream I would never have thought she would be like this.. She was such a happy person, loved everyone, loved life. This dementia is horrible and I wouldn't wish it on anyone..

Mom's house has just sold, we need the money for her care. I will take her to her house to decide on some of her belongings and the thought of that scares me. I know it's going to be a hard day. If it were up to me, I would go in and make all decisions myself. But, I have my brothers to deal with and they will insist that Mom should make the decisions. I also know that she really won't make any decisions, will just walk around and cry. I will be the one left driving her the 80 miles back to her new home and getting her back into the house.

Sorry if I've rambled on here... As I said previously, sometimes I just need to vent.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 11:11AM
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Connie Kru

By all means, vent away. That is what this forum is here for.
I had my mil in my own home. At least for me, this was far easier than running to the nursing home. I had to do that for a very short time once, and I hated it.
One thing I learned very early on, dementia makes them a new person, and very often it is a person we would have ignored if they were not our own flesh and blood, and because they are our own, it cuts so much deeper when they say things.
Try to get you awareness of this going, so it does not hurt so bad--it is the disease that says these things, not you loving mother.
Take Care

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 12:44PM
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I am so sorry that you're having to go through this. My mother, too, had Alzheimer's and it was so sad for her because she had done everything to keep her mind alert. All those things you hear about--working crossword puzzles, reading exercising, eating healthy, etc. etc. I don't think any of it really helps. As a consulation, the Alzheimer's Assoc. in Tyler told me the further the disease progressed, the less she would be aware of the shape she was in. Hard to say, but the worse she got, the less she knew. Finally one day she just went to sleep and didn't wake up. It took several days, though. You'll always be glad you did everything you could for her and that will be a comfort. As for the "gifts" for the employees, they are working for wages. Most employees aren't tipped by their customers. You just can't do that for everyone that helps you. I have a cousin in a private home like your mom and those are the most wonderful people I've ever been around. It's in the Dallas area and they don't have that many employees, but I feel like I'd like to do something for them, but 10! Geez.I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 6:33PM
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Nursing home employees work for a paycheck and the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of those in their care. Monetary gifts and tips are not acceptable in my opinion and not permitted by policy in my facility.

When a family wishes to express their appreciation, I suggest a gift of food for the staff. Pizza & soda, sandwiches, fruit baskets, cookies are always appreciated. So is a complimentary card or letter sent to the administrator. Too often, the administrator is only made aware of problems.

I hear, "I want to die/I wish I were dead," almost daily from someone. I stop and remove the resident to a private place so we can talk. I ask why they feel that way and listen as they speak. I explain that I will miss them when it's their time to die, that they are important me and to many people, that they have made a difference to their children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors. I encourage them to reminisce about their productive years.

The three plagues of aging are boredom, loneliness and helplessness. Try giving your mother a plant to care for, get her involved in the activities of the home (do they have an Adopt-a-Grandparent program?).

My response is short and overly simplistic, but I hope some of it has helped you.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 7:12AM
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