“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”
So I’m still thinking about getting something for Mom to exercise her brain. I haven’t decided whether or not a tablet is the right tool yet but I’m still going to go look at a few to get a better idea. Someone suggested getting a child’s tablet, but when I researched that online I could only find ones that had very juvenile games. I’m not looking for kids games actually, but more like memory games, quizzes, math challenges – that sort of thing.
I’ve notice more and more lately that my mom is having a hard time with simple words. I can tell it’s frustrating for her because she knows what she’s looking at when she’s talking about it but can’t get the name of it to come to her. For example, when I went over last night she said, “I can’t find my _______.” Of course my first reaction was, “Can’t find your what?” I could see that she was struggling with trying to find the word but it just wouldn’t come to her. Then the hand signals started (I’m terrible at Charades!) and I could see she was getting frustrated. And then she looks at me as if I should know what she’s talking about and says, “You know, my thingy, my ______.
Well I did finally figure out that she was talking about her cell phone. My first thought was that she flushed it down the toilet (again) but then she mentioned she heard it drop by her sofa. I did the usual first attempt at finding a lost cell phone – I called it using my cell phone. Well I didn’t hear her toilet ringing, so that was a good thing, but I couldn’t hear it ringing anywhere, which means she probably turned the volume down accidentally, as she often does.
After looking under, over, and around things, I did finally find it – so all is good! I wonder if playing ‘brain games’ will help at this stage of my mom’s life?
What I Learned: I can finally tell my husband that playing games online all these years is good for me! 🙂
“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”
One of the biggest things I have learned while caring for my mom is that she just doesn’t want to be left out of anything – no matter what it is. I can never figure out why she doesn’t understand that I really do want to spent time alone with my husband and do things with him that don’t include other members of my family. She always asks if she can go with us everywhere and makes me feel bad when I say no. She gives me that look like I never want to include her.
Honestly, does she really think we want to (or should) take her to a party at friends houses? Or take her to a get together with friends at a pub? I don’t remember “hanging out” with my parents when they went to parties…. nope, I wasn’t invited.
The dilemma: What do I tell my mom when my husband and I want to get away together. I know, I shouldn’t have to tell her anything. I’m a grown woman with my own life, and it’s normal to do things that don’t include Mom. It’s just hard to explain that to her. And telling her the truth means I have to deal with the guilt trip she lays on me, not to mention the stress it puts on my mom too.
So, after countless attempts to enjoy a night out with my husband and dealing with the backlash from my mom, I figured out the best way to handle this situation… lie! Actually, I don’t look at it as a lie, I look at it as a way to have less stress in my life (and my husbands) and less stress for my mom. And when I tell her “it’s work related”, it’s not really a lie – I honestly do something work related whenever I’m with my husband. After all, we do run a business together. 🙂
What I Learned: Enjoy the party while you can!
‘Tis the season to be jolly! Yes, the holidays are upon us and the decorations are going up! Mom has two little Christmas trees that she’s had forever – one that is “her’s” with decorations that relate to her years of travel with my dad, and one that is “his” (my dad’s) with decorations that relate to him from their travels. There are some really cool items on those trees, that’s for sure.
I got the trees out and placed them in her living room for her to enjoy. She asked me how they got so small (what?) and wondered where all the ornaments went (what?). I guess for some reason she thinks someone stole some ornaments – possibly during the move? During my research on the elderly I’ve read that thinking things are missing or being stolen is a common occurrence. It’s really difficult to trying to explain to my mom that nothing is missing – she just doesn’t believe me. She also thinks the caregivers are taking her pencils – I’m not sure how she’d think that considering she has a million pencils lying around all over the house.
So the other day our son stops by my mom’s to bring her some gingerbread creations that he had made for her – a gingerbread Christmas tree and four gingerbread houses. He sets them down on her cabinet beside her tree and arranges them like a little town for her (he’s so sweet!). She is so happy to have them and gives our son a big hug. Then she asks him, “When can we eat them?” We explained that they are just decoration and not edible. She seemed disappointed but still appreciative.
Later that night when I went over to check on her before bed she was still going on about how great the gingerbread ornaments are and how wonderful her grandson is. We chatted for a bit and I did my usual routine of checking to make sure she was situated for the night. On my way out she calls to me and asks, “When were we going to eat the gingerbread house again?”
I’m afraid when I go over there tomorrow the gingerbread tree and houses will be gone! Uh oh!
What I Learned: Be careful what you bring into the house – you can’t be sure what the mind is thinking.
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.
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.