assisted living - regular or dementia unit?
My 84 year old MIL has been living alone in her home 2.5 hours away from both of her children. Most of her friends and neighbors in the neighborhood have died or moved away. She has congestive heart failure and doesn't see very well. For years, we have tried to interest her in assisted living or at least some in home help but no luck.
Two weeks ago she landed in the hospital because of heart problems. Her cardiologist/primary care doctor told her she can't go home from the hospital, and she listens to him, at least better than she listens to anyone else.
We found what appears to be a terrific assisted living facility in her town (she wants to stay local, not move near us). They are evaluating her, and so far are leaning towards the dementia unit, not the regular assisted living part.
We aren't convinced she needs dementia care. She's not stuck in the past or anything like that. She does get a little confused and disoriented, not sure how much is the brain and how much is not being able to see and being in a strange environment.
She had a history of wandering in the hospital, they had to put her in restraints for a while, and that is why they want to put her in dementia, where the unit is locked and she can't wander off. We believe the main reason she was wandering was because she was trying to find and smoke a cigarette.
She also had several days of hallucinations and real confusion early on in the hospital. We believe that was due to alcohol withdrawal. She is not supposed to be drinking, claims she doesn't, but when pressed admitted to "having a tablespoon" while dinner was cooking.
So the poor woman was put into the hospital and suffering from alcohol and tobacco withdrawal simultaneously.
Her regular doctor was on vacation during most of this, and we have had three social workers at the hospital in two weeks. First one was great, the rest not much help. First we were told she would need skilled nursing care when discharged, so we looked into that. Then they said assisted living would be fine. Then they said nursing home. Now we are on track for dementia unit in an assisted living home.
Mom is not happy about leaving home, of course. Regular assisted living would be good for her - she could get transportation to the store and outings (she had pretty much given up driving, thank God). There is a smoking area, so if she smoke her cigarettes when she wants, I don't think she'll wander. She wants to cook for herself, but of course they won't let her have cooking facilities, not even a microwave, for safety reasons. She's not a happy person in general, but I think the regular assisted living would be good for her and we've tried to present it to her that way.
Now the facility is saying they want to start in the dementia unit. Very few outings, much more limited dining room, being locked in - she will be furious and feel she's been tricked.
My hope is that they will get her in there, observe for a while, and agree that she can try regular assisted living.
We have to put her SOMEWHERE when she's discharged from the hospital, which will be soon. She could go to a nursing home, but they don't want to take smokers and she wouldn't be able to smoke there anyhow. The assisted living dementia unit says they can make arrangements to take her to a smoking area periodically.
Sorry this is so long. Feedback? Ideas? Help! Thanks!