Part 2 of a conversation with Gidgette Chesley, the executive director of Patriot’s Landing in DuPont, WA. When people are investigating memory care, most are not looking for someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. It’s priceless to have conversations while they are able to express their wishes. It’s a tough conversation to have.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
This is a special presentation of answers for elders with carriage. Welcome back to answers for elders. This is Chuck Olmstead and with me today is Gidget Chessie. She’s the executive director at Patriots landing in Dupont. Gidget, in our first segment we were talking about memory care and what’s a if you could give families one piece of advice about talking about memory care, what would it be? And finding a facility, and the first is to have the conversation. Chuck, a lot of times when we’re talking about when someone needs to get more help, we wait too long and that person being a part of the process. So if I was diagnosed with dementia or another memory loss issue, then me being a part of the process makes it easier for everyone else to buy into. So going out and looking at places and understanding what what do they have to offer, what sets them apart and is it the best place for MOM ORD at? Yeah, well, oftentimes when we’re talking about the care and future care for ourselves or for a loved one, family dynamics really start to take play. I mean they really get revealed, don’t they? Oh, all of us sudden you know the sibling who’s the black sheep of the family or you find out that you start finding out some of these family issues and sometimes people, because of they know the family issues, they don’t want to deal with it and so they just kind of set it aside and think somehow this is going to work its way out on its own, and it’s not. That’s where kind of a third party like yourself or someone a patriots landing that can kind of help guide the process can be a real benefit. Can it? Yes, it absolutely can. So you know, one of the things that we find with the family dynamics is everyone believes they know it’s best for mom and dad and they want mom and dad near them. And that’s why I say make your choices, because then it’s easier for everyone else to support it. HMM. And so when I say this is where I want to be, I’ve made my choice. Then if my sibling or sibling doesn’t like it, or my child and they have to buy in, took that’s what I want. There they’re they’re doing the wishes that mom or dad had and that what they stated when they were healthy. Absolutely yeah, so what what’s the misconception that many people have regarding memory care and a memory care facility. You know, and I think not alone just memory care, but I think and even an assisted living is where you are so drawn to the movies and what it shows us that this place looks like we expect to see will chairs in the hallways, a smell of urine, and that’s not what it is. And that is probably the biggest misconception we find out there is people walk in they’re like, Whoa, wait, this looks like a hotel. Yeah, your menities are like a hotel. It just shocking because they don’t expect that. Yeah, well, and you’ve got a beautiful facility there. I mean it’s just it’s a beautiful facility that in you does have the feel of a hotel. I mean it is just gorgeous. Thank you, and I would agree with you to t you know, library, to having a full license bar, which is unheard of, and retirement living. Yeah, so how does someone what would you recommend someone if they’re beginning to investigate? Do they need to have, you know, patriots landing or another senior facility? What’s the process to go through? Do they go online? Do they call you? Do I’m sure some people don’t even know what questions to ask. What are the things that they need to talk to you about. So first off, you could go online and do some research. The best way to see a true facility and how it runs is just to walk in. Don’t call ahead. I know some people will say kid it, don’t say that, but no, because you’re going to see that the true story and that’s what you want to see, is the true story. Go back and do the research on that facility after you’ve done the tour. Go in and do that tour and look at it and see what’s there. There is a slew of information on the Internet on what kinds of questions to ask. But you know, let that person help you. We’re there to help whether you’re going to come to patriots landing or you’re going to go to another community, and I want you to go to look at other communities, but let us help be a resource for you. Yeah, well, most people that I’ve met that are in the senior care industry, and I don’t really like that term because it’s called an industry, but I don’t because it’s not an industry, it’s a it’s almost a ministry in the sense of you’re serving people, but you know they want to help, they’re they’re they’re passionately there because they want to help seniors. And so whether there’s a whether you’re investigating for someone you know in the to go to that facility or someone else someplace else, I know that you would give the information that they need. I even think that, you know, if I had a mother in Maryland and I’m out here, it still might be wise to see the facilities out here just to kind of get an understanding, if I don’t know what senior facilities are like, to at least somehow get a taste of what to expect at a senior facility. Right, I agree with that. You know, my grandmother was in a facility in Colorado, but it was owned by a large company nationwide. So I was able to go to her company here and there was set up like that one back there, and get a good feel for what she was in. So when I went back there I knew what I was expecting walking in her door. Yeah, yeah, well, and well, let’s let’s talk a little bit more about Alzheimer’s and without without revealing identities, because that’s not appropriate, but tell me a couple of stories about people who you’re serving there it at patriots landing. Can you tell me a couple stories? I can, and actually I have a few hitter and might might hit you a little. With this gentleman that moved in quite some time ago and he was just the nicest guy and he was a veteran and he would play his guitar and for the all the residents it just amazing. Some of the soldiers came in and did interviews with him. I’m he was a former buffalo soldier. We just could not get over the smile and his gentleman’s face. And his daughter would come in and we didn’t understand why she was so distant to him. When she came in. She would bring he needed absolutely but there just wasn’t that feel of that warm and fuzzy love and we couldn’t figure it out for the longest time and he ended up passing and she did come back around about a year later and she said, you know, the hardest thing is the man I just saw that lived here was not the man I grew up with. Huh, my dad was not a good man. Uh Huh, and the disease changed his personality and we do see that a lot with this disease, but for him it changed him into a very nice man, a very relaxed man that he wasn’t prior to getting the disease. Wow, and she had a hard time accepting that he wasn’t the same. A lot of times you’ll hear that story on the flip side back and this was a very different round because this was the side you’d want to see, the side she always hoped she had the dad she always wanted, and she didn’t get to see that. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, while you were talking, I was thinking about feature that was on sixty minutes since been on a couple of times now on Alzheimer’s, and I don’t know if you saw that or not, where they’ve tracked this couple for the last ten years and they go back every year and visit them as this wife has continued to decline in with Alzheimer’s and the husband, a retired police officer, at the very beginning said I will never leave my wife or put her in her facility. By year ten he had to put her in a facility because he could no longer manage and he recko finally recognize that it was too much and and that often happens, doesn’t it were a family member. Finally, the spouse, typically, let me, realizes they just can’t do this anymore. Right, we do see that quite a bit and you know, we talked about caregiver burn out. So when you’re caring for someone, you’re forgetting to care for yourself because you’re all in with this person. Had to her a couple recently that she believes people are stealing things. Well, she’s misplacing and she’s tucking and we see this a lot and then we forget where we touch them. I do that with my Christmas presents every year. Right, but I mean so far is that part of his life is now walking in the house and opening the safe and putting her person the safe, so that she knows he’s adjusted his life so much over the years that he’s given up on himself to be all in with her, which we love and we appreciate and how beautiful that is. But in reality he’s not being the husband anymore. He’s become a full time caregiver, and that’s why I say let us do that part and then come back and date the wife again. Yeah, you know, to sit now watch TV together, take her out to dinner or him, it doesn’t matter, but that is the biggest part. Yeah, well, I know, and talking to my my my brother in law about what’s what’s happening back back home, and he had described, you know, where, you know, especially at night, there’s just this process that goes through where they’re just trying to consider what’s going to happen the next day in planning. And I was talking to care a specialist about this and they were calling it, I think it was called sundowner correct, where during the day there’s other stimulus to kind of distract but when the mind, when Alzheimer’s is starting and it gets to be dark and there’s really nothing else to focus on, especially when they’re trying to go to sleep, where the mind begins to race and trying to figure out the next steps or that what the calendar is or what the appointments are for tomorrow, and there’s just a lot of confusion there. So there’s a lot of things to kind of understands as you see a loved one going through Alzheimer’s. Is there? Oh, absolutely correct, and like you said, that this sundowners you know, and there are so many tools now out there with different lights you can put in your home or in a bedroom whom and keeping someone active. You know, as we age we tended nap more and then we tend not to sleep at night and it really starts to mess with us. And making sure that, you know, we’re getting ourselves tired to go to bed and if it means we have to skip that nap, that maybe we need to be skipping that nap very much. Well, listen, gidget. I want to say thank you for spending some time with us today and we’ve been speaking with Gidget chestily. She’s the executive director at Patriots landing in Dupont. And again, if if someone wants to reach out to you, how do they do that? You can reach us at the community at two, five, three, nine, six, four, forty nine hundred, or you can visit us on our website at Patriots landingcom or check out our facebook page and just see what we’re doing. Yeah, well, it’s a beautiful facility. I’ve said that a few times. It’s because I mean it, because it is, and you should just go down there to enjoy and see the cottages and see the main building and just the beautiful landscaping and and the great staff. So thanks for joining me today on answers for elders. Thank you, Chuck. This has been a special presentation of answers for elders with carriage. For more information for carriage, go to CARRIAGECOM. That’s sere agecom
Suzanne Newman, host of the Answers for Elders radio show and podcast, proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne embarked on a 6-year-journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. Answers for Elders provides education, help, and support to families, caregivers, and seniors across the country who are experiencing their own unique journey within the complicated world of Eldercare. Each week, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including health & wellness, life changes, living options, money, law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.