We all know that I am Mom’s primary caregiver, but like all jobs, we could all use a little help. Enter Caregiver #2 – Alameda. We started having Alameda come seven days a week from 9 AM until 5 PM – seemed like normal working hours. Well I quickly realized that those hours weren’t working for me because of my routine with Mom and because of the working hours my husband and I keep.
You see, my daily routine consists of the following: up at 9 AM (there about… I know, bankers hours), put the coffee on, go next door to give Mom her medication, read Mom’s notepad to get a feel for what she’s been doing, refill her juice glasses she keeps in the fridge, check her thermostat, and put out her garbage if needed. Head back home, get our breakfast ready while my husband takes care of business on the phone, discuss our schedule for the day while we eat breakfast and then I head back over to Mom’s to check on her and see if she needs help with her breakfast, and whatever else she may need help with. Then my husband and I would get on with our day, which usually had us travelling and not returning home sometimes until after 5 PM. Well that just didn’t work! My mom is extremely uneasy when she is left alone – especially when it gets dark and she knows no one is on the property.
So I realized that having a caregiver there during the morning routine was very stressful for my mom, as well as not having a caregiver there later than 5 PM. It was also stressful for me. So realizing that, I had to rethink the schedule, talk it over with my husband, and put the changes into play.
The new schedule is now in place with Alameda coming from 11 AM to 7 PM. This has been working out quite well for my mom and me, so I feel good about accomplishing what we intended to do – that is, have a schedule that works for all of us.
What I Learned: Schedules are meant to be changed if it benefits everyone.
Deciding on a caregiver was quite stressful for me. I just had so much going through my mind about it that I couldn’t think about much else. I knew Mom needed someone to help with her daily routine but I had trouble figuring out a schedule – after all, this is the first time I’ve done this.
So… after talking it through with my husband and really giving it a lot of thought about what would work best for all of us, we decided to try having someone come in during the day while my husband and I are the busiest. Now all we had to do was figure out who to call to find the right person.
I talked with my mom’s primary doctor to see if he had any suggestions; I talked with a gentleman we know who runs two assisted living houses; I called numerous agencies to get information on the who, what, when and how much; and I talked with a caregiver we had when my husband and I went away. One thing I did learn is that it was going to be expensive having someone come in eight hours a day, seven days a week – most agencies charge between $18.00 – $26.00 per hour.
After more talks with my husband, we decided to give the caregiver we had when we went away a try – her name is Sue. Sue has been working in the caregiving industry for many years and has about five caregivers working with her as well. So Mom will have one main caregiver and others that fill in at times.
OK, so we’ve figured out the who, the when and the how much, now we have to figure out the what… meaning what do we need the caregiver to do to help with Mom’s daily routine? My mom is so particular about everything and she has a real problem having strangers in her life. She’s never be very sociable and definitely has some OCD going on, which is going to make things a bit touchy having a strange person in her life who wants to “help”.
So we’re going to “ease” Mom into this new situation. She was not a happy camper about the whole thing but considering all her options would be uncomfortable, this is the best uncomfortable option we have.
What I Learned: Dealing with an ageing parent is not easy; especially when it comes to handing them over to someone else.
I think I may have figured out why my mom goes completely berserk when there are people working in her house – sleep deprivation. And not only that, it probably has a lot to do with her OCD – her routine is completely out of whack. The last few times that we’ve had work done on the house my mom has been so out of sorts. I couldn’t figure out what was going on with her, but now I do.
If you remember my previous posts about how my mom was acting when the workmen were here, you’ll remember how bizarre it was. Well this time wasn’t any different – maybe a little more bizarre. Not only did Mom keep locking the door on them again, but this time she was hearing people knocking in her bedroom and she kept unplugging their power cord.
Not only does Mom hear and do strange things, she just seems to get really wiggy about everything. She calls my cell all day long, she keeps thinking she hears me outside her door when it’s actually the workmen talking (I guess I sound like a male Mexican), she asks about going out to eat every time I talk to her and keeps asking about it even when I tell her we won’t be going out, and then she asks me why I never tell her anything – when I actually have.
The only thing that changes when the workmen are here is the fact that she doesn’t sleep. Her normal routine is to basically sleep on and off all day – lately it’s been mostly on. I can tell that Mom is tired, and even when I try to persuade her to nap she refuses to believe that she is tired. I know if she sleeps she’ll feel so much better.
Well my theory was proved right. Today Mom slept while the workmen were here and she seems so much better. She even said to me that she feels better when she sleeps. I hate to say I told you so, but…..
What I Learned: I’m learning how to “read” Mom’s signs and figuring out a way to deal with them.
“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”
Three-thirty AM…. ring, ring. “Angel, there’s people at my door…. bring the gang down the street.” I didn’t think much about what Mom was saying at the time – my husband and I just bolted out of bed and ran next door. We were pretty sure it was another one of Mom’s hallucinations but you just never know. I’d feel terrible if there really was someone out there and I ignored it.
My husband took off around the front of the house and I headed inside to see Mom. She was lying on her sofa, not looking very upset at all. I asked if she could still hear them and she said yes. I could not. Then Mom asked when the police would arrive. I told her the police were not called. She looked at me as if I were crazy and said, “I told you to bring the gang down the street.” Oh, now I get it. The “gang’ down the street is the police – the police department is just down the street from our house.
My husband came inside and told us there was nobody around and no one on the street in either direction. We both knew it was another hallucination but there was no way we could tell Mom that – she was positive she heard them. It was hard for me to explain to her why we weren’t calling the police without telling her she was hearing things again. I tried a bunch of different tactics, none of which seemed to really help.
Unfortunately, the only thing that got Mom to calm down was me telling her that maybe we’d have to find her a different place to live if she wasn’t feeling safe and secure in the house – somewhere that had 24 hour security and people around all the time. She knew exactly what I was talking about, and although I wasn’t trying to make it sound like a threat, she was probably thinking that a home for the elderly was the last place she wanted to be.
So I spent some time comforting Mom and she seemed to calm down after a bit. She got to sleep finally – I did not.
My mind was whirling around trying to figure out what I can do with these late night calls about nothing. At least it’s not happening often. My husband and I will need to talk about this situation again – what are we going to do if it continues and becomes too difficult for us to handle?
What I Learned: Taking care of my mom may get more and more difficult for me to handle as she continues to age – I may have to make a change in the near future.
Today I realized that Mom does not do well when she is out of her element. We had workers come to the house very early this morning to move the heater in Mom’s attic and redo the venting for the air conditioning. Because it has been almost 100 degrees here lately, the workers wanted to get an early start – considering how hot it would be in the attic – understandable.
So I got Mom up at 7:00 am so she could get her morning routine out of the way before the men arrived. She is always confused in the mornings and today was not different…. well, actually it was different because she had some added stress about strange men being and working in her house. But I made sure she took her medication, got her breakfast and was all set for the men to arrive. I told her we’d been around all day and would stop in periodically to check up on her. That made her feel a bit more relaxed.
The men arrived and started the work on schedule. Mom questioned every noise she heard and wondered where they were going every time they left to get tools or supplies. I explained to her that they would be coming and going throughout the day and I would let her know when they were finished. For some reason she had a really hard time understanding that they were still working even though they kept leaving her house.
I spent all morning back and forth to Mom’s making sure she was OK. My husband ran and got breakfast for us all which Mom thoroughly enjoyed – pancakes! When the workers took their lunch break they told Mom they’d be back in 30 mins – she seemed much more relaxed when they weren’t in her house. The afternoon seemed to be a little more confusing for Mom for some reason. She wasn’t happy about the men using her bathroom and kept asking my husband to check that they had flushed. But the weirdest thing came a little later.
My husband and I were working away in our house when there was a knock at the door – it was one of the workers telling us that Mom’s door was locked. Hmmm…., that’s weird. But sure enough it was. So I unlocked it and went in to see what was up with that. When I asked Mom why she locked the door she said the workers told her they were finished (which was not so). So I explained to her that they were not finished and would be coming in and out the rest of the afternoon to finish the job.
Mom looked awfully confused. Every time one of the workers left her house with their tools she thought they were leaving for the day. And sure enough, an hour later it happened again! Another knock on our door letting us know that Mom’s door was locked. Geeze! What is going on? Again I explained to Mom the situation and she said she wouldn’t lock it again.
Well…. she did. And 2 men were still in her attic! She kept saying she was told they were done for the day and leaving. Wishful thinking on her part I guess. But we got through the day and Mom was a happy camper when the work was finished and she could get back to her normal routine. I was really surprised at how she kept locking the door after being told numerous times not to, but I suppose the mind becomes fragile when we age.
What I Learned: Keep the mind active and try to stay social.
I was visiting Mom last night and she was telling me how unhappy she is with the fact that she can’t remember things and is confused about what is going on. It usually only happens when she just wakes up, but considering she’s sleeping most of the day it happens often.
So we started that conversation again about what her options are. She obviously needs help, especially with her medication and some meals. Actually, there are really only two options – move to an assisted living facility or have a home health person come in. We both know that assisted living is the last thing Mom wants – she even said she’d probably die if she moved to one…. YIKES!
Of course my opinion of assisted living and Mom’s opinion differ greatly. I feel, for me, it would be a better situation in some ways because of the social aspect of a facility, as well as meals prepared daily, extra curricular activities, outings, and even a smaller living space to not have to worry about cleaning. Yea…. that’s what I’m all about! Mom, on the other hand, doesn’t want anything to do with socializing, hates any type of game, and is super fussy about her meals.
After talking about how she won’t go to an assisted facility we talked in more detail about having someone come in. Herein lies the problem. What days/hours would we have the home health person come and what duties would they perform? Some days are better than others for Mom but lately she’s been having confused days every day.
Unfortunately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to call around and get information for Mom, but now I feel I have to take the time to call. It’s going to be weird for all of us having someone around all the time – we really like our space – but I have no other option at this time.
Who knows? Maybe this is exactly what we all need. Someone to help Mom with her daily activities and someone to take a little pressure off of me. And maybe even my husband and I will feel we can get away more often without feeling pressure from Mom about going away.
Hmmm… can you say Vegas?
What I Learned: You can only put things off for so long, and some changes can be for the better.
No… not for me – for Mom. Sometimes I think it’s time to get a caregiver to come in and help her. There are days when she doesn’t seem to need help and then there are days when she does. I’m a little stressed about it because I don’t know how to handle it. Should I hire someone to come in every day, even on the days when Mom is able to do everything on her own? Do I have someone come during the day only or day AND night?
I’ve used an agency in the past when my husband and I have gone away for an extended period of time and that has worked out alright. Mom always puts up a fight about us leaving her and really packs on the guilt trip, but I am adamant about living my life and spending time away with my husband. When taking in an elderly parent I feel it is so important to try to live your life the way you want. If you want to including your parent in your life all the time that’s fine, but if you want to live your life and include them sometimes, like I do, then that’s OK too.
Let’s be real here… I spend time with Mom every day. Honestly, it’s becoming more often than I expected but I’m alright with that. I know when to put the brakes on and I know when I need to get away and spend time with my husband. Believe me, it takes practice to say “no” to Mom but I have to so my life can be less stressful.
So, back to the question… Should I get help? Having a caregiver come in is expensive – anywhere from $18 to $25 an hour! Of course I haven’t looked into the rate for someone to come in on a regular basis – maybe you get a price break if they are coming on a weekly basis…. hmmm, I’ll look into that and let you know. And will having someone around all the time just mean that now I have to keep an eye on them as well? I’m not too crazy about having a stranger in our personal space all the time, but what are my options? I know Mom does not want to leave and stay in an assisted living situation and I’d rather not have that either, but it may come to that if I feel she needs that type of care.
What a dilemma. I guess I’ll call around and get some info and see about making a decision in the near future. I’ll keep you posted!
What I Learned: This is a situation that needs careful thought and planning – it will definitely affect all of us.
What a stressful end to my day – and everything was going so well. I slept in this morning, had a nice breakfast with my husband, got some phone calls made, did some grocery shopping, popped in to see Mom a couple of times, spent some time with our son, and had a relaxing dinner our back with a delicious frozen margarita! I decided to go see Mom for a bit, make sure her A/C was set right for the night. When I walked in her back door she was standing in her kitchen looking a little frazzled. Then she started babbling away about nobody being home and how frightened she was and how I should have told her we were going away…. what?!!
At first I was quite calm and told her we were home all day except for shopping, and reminded her that when I dropped her groceries off I mentioned I had some work to do and I’d come back later that evening to see her. She said she remembered that but why didn’t I tell her we were going away? We didn’t go away! Then she asked why she hadn’t seen anyone all day. Again, I reminded her that I had been over there a couple of times already today and this was the third time. She told me I should wake her up when I go over…. hello – you were awake!
I don’t how the conversation went where it did, but all sorts of “bad” was coming to the surface. Mom was telling me how I was supposed to be caring for her and that I should be letting her know when we are going and coming, and how I should let her know when we are home by coming outside so she can see us. Are you kidding me?!! That just pushed me a little too far. I couldn’t help myself – she was just being hurtful.
That’s when I lost it…. I basically told Mom that if she didn’t like our situation and thought she could get better care elsewhere, then maybe she should go live in a home. Yup, I went there! I was actually quite calm about it, but firm. That comment made her do a 360 right then and there. That’s one thing my mom absolutely does not want to do – go to a home. And I don’t blame her, we wouldn’t want her in a home either, but there has to be some boundaries and respect of our situation. If we lose the respect then it just won’t work.
Finally, things got calmed down and the conversation ended with a hug. Mom said she’d try to work on “boundaries”, but I’m pretty sure she’ll forget most of what we talked about in no time. Maybe that’s the upside of memory lose. And, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure Mom will eventually need more full time care. I’m not sure if she’ll have to go to a home, but she’ll definitely have to have someone come in on a daily basis. That’ll be a chore for sure – finding the right match for Mom. I may have to start a different blog just for that!
What I Learned: It can be a challenge caring for an elderly parent – it’s not for everyone, but I know we are doing what’s best for Mom.
Mom has a hard time understanding prices of things – I’m pretty sure she’s still lost in the 50’s. The other day we went to Whole Foods to get her a few things but she just couldn’t believe how expensive everything was. And it was definitely way more expensive than Florida. Yup! That’s California for ya Mom. Even when she bought the exact same items she was used to buying in Florida she would tell me “it doesn’t taste the same – it must be California.”
The other day we took Mom to Dairy Queen – she was craving a cone from there because she used to go to one in Florida but hadn’t been in years. Now that we are taking her everywhere I think she wants to get everything she’s been missing. So we got there and she asked for a “baby size vanilla cone” which, of course, they don’t have because they did away with them in 1990! All they had was a small cone, which she agreed to buy, and pulled out $1.50 from her wallet. Whomp! She nearly fell over dead when she was told “that’ll be $3.89.” Well, as you can guess, the ice cream just didn’t taste like it did in Florida. That’s right Mom, in California they put the price up and take the taste out – damn Dairy Queen!
And I won’t even tell you how much the bill was for the dinner we had – Mom couldn’t believe it. And then she had to argue with my husband about how much of a tip to leave. Really Mom? A couple of bucks? You’re the one who wanted to go there.
I guess we’re going to Denny’s next time!
What I Learned: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Today we made a major breakthrough with Mom – she went to Denny’s with us! I know, it’s not fine dining or anything but hey, I have an AARP card which gives us 20% off AND 1 dollar coffee after 4 PM. Plus, they’ve got to know us as regulars (I know… sad) and we get great service – how can you beat that? We can all use a financial break now and then, right?
This was the first time in weeks that we’ve been to Denny’s because we’ve been catering to Mom and going where she wanted – but that’s OK, it’s been years since she’s had people around to take her places. I must admit, she has certainly been enjoying herself – did I mention that she loves to eat out? The only place she wouldn’t eat though was Denny’s – I think she had a bad experience at one in Florida. But I finally just said to her that we were going there and if she wanted to join us she could. Well… she didn’t want to go there but she wanted to go out, so off we went!
Before we even got there I knew she’d complain about everything – and she pretty much did while we were there. But when we got home she actually said she enjoyed herself and the experience was a good one. Wow! And here I thought Denny’s would be the one place my husband and I could get away – I know…. sad.
What I Learned: Don’t underestimate a “hungry, I want company, I want to go out” Mom!