I write this article because it is a topic that I am currently dealing with. My mother is currently a long-term resident in a nursing home, and as such is confined to a wheelchair.
She also is overweight, enhancing the difficulties in moving her from Point A to Point B.
Her complete immobility makes taking her out of the nursing home, if ever for a brief visit or attending a birthday party, very challenging.
Realistically,to get her from the car into the house takes 2-3 people to make the move safely.
The worst part, however, is dealing with Mom’s requests to her out in public, because as her primary caregiver I can see that it is a totally unsafe undertaking.
So I want to talk to the caregivers out there and explain how I am dealing with what can be a very frustrating situation.
Where I Stand Now With This Issue
First, Mom has been a nursing home resident for 2 years now and it seems likely she will not be able to live on her own again. While she has recovered from the heart attack and has regained her faculties (initially after the heart attack she was on so much medication it seemed as though she had a “medication-induced dementia”.
I don’t know if this is a real medical term, but I am describing what I saw with my eyes).
Despite the fact that her faculties have returned, her body has not. She is immobile and needs assistance getting out of bed, getting in and out of the wheelchair, toileting, etc…
She can walk but she needs a walker as well as someone to hold her up from the back of her pants in order to take some of her weight off of her legs.
It is now apparent that despite Mom’s excuses (her last one was that her shoes were preventing her from walking effectively) the real problem is that her body has not and will not recover, despite the best efforts of the physical therapists at the nursing home.
She keeps getting scheduled for therapy, but quickly plateaus in her progress. So the therapy sessions continue to get cancelled…and I do understand this.
There are 400+ residents at the facility and many are in need of therapy that will improve their condition and mobility. So the staff will naturally focus on those who have the potential to improve their mobility.
It should also be noted that there are other times when Mom can get in exercise to improve her mobility, by being walked by her aide to the dining room, to Bingo, to the bathroom…and she refuses. She likes to get pushed in the wheelchair, so this is another source of therapy that is being wasted by her.
I cannot force her, nor can the nursing home staff force her, to do this. It is their job (and mine now) to keep her as happy as possible and to keep her safe. So if she doesn’t want to walk she doesn’t have to.
My mother is claiming that the latest reason she is unable to walk effectively, pivot, and get in and out of a vehicle safely is because of her shoes. Of course, this is what she told the psychologist at the nursing home 4 days after the problems occurred, and when I was struggling to get her in and out of my car she never mentioned the shoes were an issue.
The issue is she can’t walk and pivot…and the bigger issue is that she isn’t willing to admit it.
Note: I completely understand that. No one wants to lose their independence. But there is a difference between not accepting reality and putting yourself into a dangerous situation.
How To Deal With This Type of Situation
Here is what I have been going through, and the solutions that I am currently utilizing to attempt to get Mom to realize the situation…
Take her to places where I can control the environment.
And by this I mean that she is at every birthday party, every family reunion, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas at our houses.
These situations are manageable because I have backup when bringing her to these places, because it realistically takes 2-3 people to get her in and out of the house safely.
Have “the expert” be the bad guy.
Your parents are not going to listen to you. After all, they spent their whole lives telling you what to do. And the more “thick headed”
they are this will be a problem.
Note: In my mother’s case in terms of “thick-headedness” if there was a rating scale from 0 to 10 I would say she is around a 243!!!!
So I am working with the psychologist at the nursing home to help my mother to realize her physical limitations. And even with years of training on the psychologists’ part, the progress being made is very slow.
I am still getting ridiculous requests that are totally unsafe for her, like taking her to a mall (during Christmas of all times!!!) to get her ears pierced.
Of course, these are just excuses to try and get out for a little while, and I understand that, but the problem comes down to one of safety. When the nursing home staff is telling me that I shouldn’t do this, then I have to “stick to my guns” and do the safe thing.
Overall, Mom is making SLOW progress into realizing her limitations. And I hope that as she recognizes these issues it will make her time at the nursing home easier.