“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!
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.
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!
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.
Mom loves to eat out. That is definitely her all time favorite thing to do. And she’s always loved gourmet cooking with lots of flavor. My husband and I take her out for dinner every Friday and usually one other day during the week – and always when she has doctor’s appointments we go for lunch too. But lately she’s been complaining about how everything she orders has no taste.
I’ve read that as we age we can lose our taste buds, but I never read that it could be my fault for my mom not tasting anything. Yup! Somehow my mom can always spin it around to be my fault – even losing her taste buds.
You see, this is how it is. We go out for dinner; my husband and I know pretty much what we are going to order (because we’ve been going to the same restaurant for over a year); Mom peruses the menu even tho she’s a vegetarian and there are only certain items she will eat; I will ask her if she knows what she’ll be having; she always says no and continues to peruse the menu; then I try to push her along by suggesting something; and finally she’ll order one of the items I suggested – which is usually the same thing she orders every time.
By the time we order we’ve seen multiple tables come and go – and my husband and I are starving! So when our food arrives my husband and I are always enjoying every bite – the food is always wonderful here. Then I look over at Mom and she looks disappointed. Should I ask? Of course I do, and I get the same response as usual – “it doesn’t have any taste.” Even adding condiments doesn’t seem to help.
Then I know what’s coming next. “If I hadn’t listened to your suggestion maybe I would have something that tastes good.” Really? And don’t EVEN try to tell her it could be her taste buds. Oh right, a 90 year old has perfect taste buds. But I don’t let it bother me because she’s MOM. My husband pats my leg and gives me a kiss – it’s all good!
What I Learned: Don’t suggest anything to eat? (We’d probably still be waiting to order if I didn’t)
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.
Had to move out of our house for four days because they were doing some renovations – Mom was not a happy camper. Staying in a hotel with minimal things was just too confusing for her… talk about being out of sorts!
Every morning Mom would call our room around 8 am. She didn’t know where she was and didn’t know what to do. I would go to her room and help her out, let her know the routine and then go and grab her some breakfast. After a while everything was fine, and Mom was back to her usual self and asking when we were going out to eat. It was the same thing every day.
I was hoping that getting away for a few days would be a nice change for Mom but I guess mixing things up did not sit well with her. She talked a lot about the cleaning staff and maintenance workers but I didn’t think anything about it – until we checked out. I was walking through the lobby with Mom and she saw a maintenance man. As we walked by him Mom said, “Thanks Joe, we are leaving now.” What? She knew his name? That’s when I realized she had been calling the front desk and having maintenance and cleaning staff at her room – probably one too many times.
But now we are home and things are back to usual – still afraid of the night and still asking if we are going out to eat. Some things never change.
What I Learned: Stick to the normal routine.
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.