nursing-home-caregiver-with-patient I have written about this topic in the past and I would like to share my on-going thoughts with you about our journey to take care of my aging dad.

I find for the first time a hesitation to write about this, not because I think the topic is not important to many of us with your own parents, but because we “Hardy” have now crossed over a line that is really getting into tough stuff and hard decisions. As I reflect on our journey, I share with you not seeking sympathy, reach-outs or pity. I want you to also know my dad feels the same way.

My real desire to share with you key observations of situations we are dealing with by sharing so if you find yourself in a similar situation with your loved ones then maybe this can help you navigate your situation.

As a current update and background for you, Dad has come out of his second hospital visit and we are in a Rehabilitation Facility.

Here are key things I have observed.

1. You need to get plugged into that Facility, become a personal advocate for your loved one. 2. You need to get to know who key people are within that facility and get on first name basis. 3. You need to be willing to stand up on your loved one’s behalf and speak openly about pros and cons you are seeing. 4. Do not forget to praise those caregivers and get your mind around the fact that your time and energy is going to get stretched.

Now Dad’s goal was to get back to independent living at Abbottswood. If you have a loved one coming from their retirement home to rehab and hoping to get back to their “Retirement Center” then KNOW rehab and their independent living facility will really set the terms of the patients return.

(I will share with you as if that is your situation as if their going back to their independent living at the retirement center. If going home, home assistants and home healthcare needs will I am sure come into discussion.)

Here are the key facts I have observed on this getting back process:

1. You will find yourself having to navigate between both the Rehab’s and retirement center’s requirements in order for your loved one to get back. (Your loved one’s effort, attitude and progress are KEY factors for their success). a. You may discover along the way that your loved one is in need of “assisted living.” If this change occurs you are in a new world now of caregiving that will require your education on new terms, standards, etc. 2. An additional level of care always means more money. 3. Additional care is referred to as skilled care, assisted living or level 1,2,3,4 etc. care or even nursing home care. Each care facility has their own terminology. Please understand the need of the patient is laid out by the facilities treating the patient and the facility where you want to get back to. You are going to have to help your loved one understand this and navigate this for and with them.

This observation is most important for me and I hope you have someone you can call on. (For me it is my brothers and my wife, Christy)

1. Do not attempt to do this on your own. 2. If you have brothers or sister involve them in the process. 3. Keep them in the loop on good days and bad. 4. Insist on sharing responsibilities. 5. If you believe in or belong to a faith community share with them your situation. 6. Take one day at a time and quickly understand that there will be some really tough days as well as good days. 7. Finally, a lot of this is out of your control so take deep breaths and remember the good times.

Finally here is my hardest and most challenging observation. I say this to us all with the most respect and glass half full approach to life that we Hardy’s have.

1. Death and dying is part of life and it will happen to all of us. 2. Do not be afraid to openly talk about death with your loved one and your siblings. 3. Understand your loved one’s wishes and desires. Let me recommend to all of us to be proactive in understanding what it is our loved ones wish and desire to be. 4. Be your loved ones advocate in this area. 5. Give your loved one space and time to process these matters and be a good listener. Even though you will shed a tear or two when you are either with them or off on your own, stand tall and tough for the loved one as they process these thoughts. 6. Quality of living becomes a big discussion point for the elderly patient. Respect that position and be their advocate.

Now my hopes for Dad and each of you who find your loved one in the rehabilitation process is that Dad and your loved ones can get back to the home as they know it. But if that road does not present itself and new ones do, again I write to all seeking no sympathy or pity; I only share our experiences in order to help you if you are ever there.

We will continue our journey with my dad wherever it leads us and wish the best for you and yours and God’s blessing for us all. • The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.