The Stroke


The Stroke

Mom had a stroke last Friday (9 days ago) and our world has changed. She had dementia before, most likely vascular, and it's a little worse now. Maybe a lot worse, actually. She is still in the hospital in in-patient rehab. The doctor here was saying to me this morning that she is doing really well medically and has a lot of physical ability still - she can walk with a walker as long as someone is holding on to her from behind, use the bathroom as long as someone is with her, wipe in front tho not behind. But cognitively, she is not able to remember how to be safe - to wait until someone is with her to attempt to get up and do things. So right now, she needs eyes on her 24/7. They're discharging her from this hospital-based intensive rehab on Friday and then she will transfer to a sub-acute rehab facility, and I have to figure out where that will be this week. My optimism about her return home waxes and wanes. The thought of not bringing her home breaks my heart. The thought of bringing her home is terrifying.

The stroke has made a difference in her cognition but not total. She is still more or less herself, but her cognition is her biggest problem in terms of recovery because she's not able to learn and remember basic safety precautions. I'm considering a couple of options for next week:

A nursing home/rehab facility near the hospital - it's close enough I can easily visit and spend time, and I've heard good things about the rehab. In fact the social worker here at the hospital had a family member there and said they really work on getting people home.

An assisted living/memory care facility that has a great reputation and wonderful staff. They contract with an outside provider to come in and provide physical and occupational therapy with a doctor's orders. If she couldn't come home safely, that would be a good place for her to stay. It is much less expensive than a skilled nursing facility and she might be able to pay for it with a combination of her income and her longterm care policy.

I've also talked with some private caregivers, one of whom would work for $12 an hour - a good bit less than the agencies charge. But then I did the math - if I have someone overnight so I can sleep (a top priority!) and during the hours that I work (2 days/week) and some extra hours for grocery shopping, cooking, my doctor's appointments, my son's appointments and other things, etc. - we will drain out her savings fairly soon, even with her pension income and longterm care (which pays half for in-home care what it pays for a facility!!)

It's all so overwhelming. Sometimes I think, if I can just bring her home, she'll be happier, it'll be worth it. And maybe we can just do it till the money runs out. I'm trying to weigh all the options and I wish someone could tell me exactly what the future holds and what the best choice would be. If I knew that her life was limited only to another year or two, it would be easier to say, okay, I'll keep her at home whatever it takes.

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Thinking of you this morning and the many complicated choices before you. All of the wise living you have experienced so far is preparing you for this time, and making the very best of whatever choice you make.