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.
I really felt bad for Mom the other day. Her hallucinations seem to be getting worse and I’m having a hard time dealing with them. She seems to have the most hallucinations when my husband and I are away from home for most of the day. Like the other day, I stopped by Mom’s and told her I was leaving with my husband for work and I’d see her when we got home. I’ve learned from past experience that I never give my Mom an actual time that we’ll be home because she will hold me to it.
So on our way home I called our son to see how things were going with him. He just happened to be outside talking with my mom at the time and Mom was questioning when I’d be home. I told our son we’d be home in about 30 minutes, which he relayed to my mom. We did get home within 30 mins but I didn’t talk with my mom right away because we had some internet problems we had to deal with – oh boy, what a mistake.
While I was on the phone with the internet company my mom must have called through about 5 times. Since I didn’t answer she started calling our son’s phone. Finally I went over to her house and asked her what the problem was – why was she calling so frantically? She told me I wasn’t home in 30 minutes and she was worried and then she saw me get into our son’s car and leave. What?! Then she asked me how the party was. Wait…. what party?
She was so positive that I was at her house earlier telling her that we were going to a party. I’ve tried telling her that what she’s seeing and hearing is really not happening, but obviously to her it is real. She truly believes we went to a party and there’s no telling her any differently.
So…. do I go along with her hallucinations? Do I stick to my story and tell her what she saw and heard is not real? Everything I read says don’t tell them their hallucinations are not real – it will just upset them. Yup! That is true. But going along with them can lead to other problems – my mom would want to know why we didn’t take her to the party with us!
What I Learned: Hallucinations are real to the person having them and it’s impossible to convince them otherwise.
Is it just my mom or do most elderly people have a problem understanding someone on a cell phone? Honestly, it’s like trying to talk to someone who doesn’t understand English. Is it her hearing? Is it her cognitive ability? Maybe both?
The other night I called Mom back after she left me multiple messages – which I couldn’t understand. The first thing she always asks me is “Are you home?” And for some reason when I say yes she always says “No?” It takes a few back and forth ‘yes’ and ‘no’s’ for her to get it.
Then we’ll talk about the simplest things and she’ll twist everything around.She’ll have us going to a party and ask when we’ll be home, then she’ll have us going to bed when it’s seven o’clock at night.
I get a little stressed with it because while I’m trying to correct her she keeps talking over me and making things worse. I’m not really sure how she hears some of the things she hears (like us going to a party) but it certainly makes for an interesting conversation. I’ve gotten to the point now where it’s just easier to go over and talk with her instead of trying to converse on the cell phone.
And, of course, it’s always MY cell phone that’s the problem, or MY hearing that’s the problem. Oh…. don’t get me started on MY hearing problem….
What I Learned: Arguing doesn’t make things any better…. and stay away from the cell phone!
The mind is an interesting thing. The one thing I’ve never understood about ageing is hallucinations. Today was a very strange day with Mom – I wonder if it has anything to do with the events that have happened over the last few days because Mom has been out of sorts for a while now.
But today was just strange. My husband and I thought we’d take Mom out for dinner since she’s been asking to go out for the past couple of days. We don’t usually go out during the week because we are so busy, but for some reason Mom has mentioned going out to eat every time I’ve seen her. She is always so happy about going out to eat that I thought that this is just what she needs.
So off we went to a local restaurant where everything went well. Mom enjoyed her dinner (as did we) and, of course, she took home a dessert for later. We noticed that she was not quite herself tho, so when we dropped her off at home I told her I’d come over a little later and spend some time with her.
A few hours later I went over to see how she was doing. My husband came with me to check her kitchen tap (which she mentioned earlier was leaking) – so he got to see Mom in one of her “confused” moments. When we walked in the back door she was on her cell phone calling me, and then she told me she was all ready to go to the concert.
What? She had her shoes on and everything. I, on the other hand, was in my pj’s ready for bed. So Mom starts telling me about how Elsie and Harry (her deceased sister and brother) were telling her to call me so we wouldn’t be late for the concert. Mom couldn’t remember what concert we were going to but I had lots of tickets and a whole bunch of us were going. WOW! My husband looked at me with a WTF look on his face.
I took Mom into the living room and we talked for a bit. She explained what she heard and who was saying it and then I explained that we weren’t going to a concert. She looked at me like I was lying about what went on – she really believes that the whole concert conversation happened.
I’m really having a hard time dealing with Mom’s hallucinations because she believes they are real and can’t understand why I keep telling her they aren’t. Should I NOT tell her they aren’t real? I can’t try to pretend that it’s real. Am I doing more harm than good by trying to let her know that what she’s hearing is in her mind?
It’s just getting weirder and weirder every day. I usually try to let her know that the noises she hears can be explained by normal old house noises, like irrigation pumps under the house, A/C running, the washer/dryer running, the refrigerator making noise, etc. so she feels more at ease. The one thing I can’t explain to her is the people in the TV behind the program running singing or talking – that is just unexplainable.
What I Learned: I am going to do what ever I can to keep my mind from hallucinating – I sure hope I can.
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 never thought I’d by playing hide and seek at this stage in my life, but having Mom on the property has brought on a lot of game playing. I have to admit, my husband and I have become very creative in dealing with ways to spend time alone. It may sound childish, but I’ve come to realize that honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to an ageing parent.
In my situation, my mom has a terrible time dealing with being alone – especially after dark. I’m pretty sure that’s a common trait for people who are ageing. I also know that my mom would freak out if she knew we were not on the property at certain times – I know this because she is always calling me and asking if we are home.
Today was a particularly funny situation. First of all, I should mention that my husband and I are terrible at sneaking up, around, or out of any situation – if we are trying to go unnoticed it’s a given that we’ll get caught. So we decided to go grab a pizza for dinner, sit out back (just the two of us) with a margarita and enjoy the beautiful summer evening.
Just as we walked around the corner of our house we see Mom opening her back door (which opens up to our courtyard) throwing treats out to the dog. Oh oh…. busted! Both my husband and I flatten ourselves up against the fence and side step it as quickly as possible to the gate. I can’t believe she didn’t see us! I’m sure if anyone had seen us we would have looked pretty silly. I slowly and quietly opened the gate and we jumped in the truck and headed out. Will Mom still be at her door when we get back? You bet.
Now we need a plan to get back in without her seeing us – or if she does, have a plan of what to say. So again, I slowly and quietly open the gate. My husband grabs the pizza and I run defense. If Mom sees us, I can distract her while he sneaks past with the food. Well all that planning for nothing – her door was open but she wasn’t there…. so that was a good thing. I’m not the type who feels very good about making things up, but in our situation I feel it’s better to say and do things that won’t upset Mom.
So everything turned out fine. My husband and I had a nice relaxing dinner out back and Mom was none the wiser.
What I Learned: Some game playing is needed when caring for an elderly parent.
Well I think I’ve made a major decision about my mom. I’ve been fighting with what to do about having someone come in and help her out, trying to figure out IF someone should come in, and what days/hours, etc. So after discussing it with my husband I think we figured it out.
My mom called this morning at 7:30 and left a message on my cell. I heard the phone ring but it went to voice mail by the time I woke up. I know Mom will call again and again if it’s an emergency (a Mom emergency I call it, because it’s usually nothing) but the phone didn’t ring again. Three hours later the phone rang (waking me up again), but this time I answered it. I figured it was about time I get up, even tho it was the weekend. Mom was asking when I was coming over because she didn’t know how to take her medication and didn’t want to do anything until I got there.
I told her what to do over the phone – which is pretty simple – “take your pill.” But since I was awake I decided to go over there and make sure she was OK. Mom is always out of sorts after she sleeps for a long time – which is getting more and more every day. She had taken her pill correctly and was getting her breakfast ready, so everything seemed fine.
I think it’s a little premature to have a home health aide come in every morning just to make sure Mom is taking her medication properly. Sure it would take the pressure off me, but having someone else involved may just cause more problems. If you only knew my mom.
So… my major decision. I’ve decided to help my mom out by going over every morning to help her with her medication. At least I’m going to give it a try. As long as my mom can work around my schedule we shouldn’t have a problem. During the week I can run next door when I get up before I start my day, and on weekends I’ll just go over whenever I wake up. That’ll work…. right?
I guess we’ll see. I’m going to give it a try anyway, and if it doesn’t work for me I’ll have to look at other options. At least I’ll save Mom some money by not hiring someone to come in and Mom will feel much better about everything.
Here’s hoping anyway!
What I Learned: I don’t mind helping my mom out as long as it doesn’t become a real burden.