The idea to write about this topic is about my long time of doing caregiving for family. I was almost born into caregiving for family due to our constant moving and our family dynamics. It started by being told I must take care of my siblings. Then later I began helping my parents also and by that I did not mean carrying groceries. I won’t go into details to bore you with some of what I am talking about. That being said I was a caretaker and did not know what that meant or what that entailed. Because I did not know what that required from me I learned as I went along. I do not recommend this as you will make far to many mistakes, with that stress and emotionally stress. I can tell you, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. You cannot help others until you help yourself. By that I mean you must arm yourself with knowledge and with a support group of other family and friends.
I wish I even had the sense to ask for help when I first started doing caregiving. The saying is “you don’t know, what you don’t know”. Boy is that every true. What happens is you start with helping with one or two things and it does not take a lot of time or money for you to do so, it’s family. For me it was; can I help them with hanging a picture, next time could I help with moving some dirt or watering flowers. All things that a lot of us would do without hesitation. This kind of help went on for years. I must tell you that I did not have a job outside of my home at this point either. I was a stay at home mom. At this time I was also raising two girls of my own. I belonged to four organizations and held offices in them all and was teaching ESL to Japanese students. So you can see my plate was already very full. In my eyes I felt that it was my responsibility to care for my parents. That also meant taking care of my then in-laws in addition to my parents. At the time all my help just seemed so little to help them out. Little did I know. I am not trying to tell you not to do caregiving but you do need to think long and hard if you have the personality and the time to do so. I would also suggest you take classes when you can and read everything you can so you can deal with all the things involved.
I don’t know if anyone can tell you that being a caregiver is also an emotional rollercoaster. As with all things in the journey I have found that I have experienced all kinds of emotions, from love to dislike and happy to sad and everything in between. There are days where the thought of having to do anything for anyone is overwhelming, and others where I feel I can deal with everything easily. I cannot stress how important having a support network will help you through all of this. I did not. I had no idea that this would be so involved and at times draining. I do not mean to make this all sound negative. There are really good things that come out of this also.
When my fathers health started failing I had many discussions with him. He finally got all the different kinds of wills done. Next every time I came over he showed me where all his important documents were. He also showed me his filing system to I could take care of things. He informed me that at this time he made me executor of their estate. This was an honor but it is also a huge thing to ask of someone other than a lawyer. At first, it used to drive me crazy that every time I came over my dad would go over this stuff with me. Little did I know how much work it saved me in the long run. Looking back I think my dad knew something was up with his health and wanted to take care of my mother. I had moved away from my parents when my daughters were in high school. My parents were in California and I had moved to Colorado. Caregiving came to a stand still. Several years later my parents moved to Colorado and so did my entire family. Then my mother had breast cancer and my father was forced into the caregiver position. All the family tried to fill in where we could.
What I can suggest is doing your own homework. Find out all you can in your area for resources. The more knowledge you have on this subject the better. Get the whole family involved and share the load. This should never be left to one person in the family. You have no idea what a toll it takes when everything is left to one family member. On a side note.. if you are an only child then you need to find extended family to help you also.
Here are some great ideas that helped me.
First thing we did was put a camera in the living room area. This was so we could check to see if mom was out and about. If we did not see her walking around the house, we as a family would call and check on her. Many would think this is an invasion of privacy. It might be but it was a way for my mom to stay in her own home longer. There are many options on the market. You can have it hooked into an alarm system also if you wish. With these cameras you can have the app on your phone so the person who is home alone can see if someone is in the house from their bedroom. I have since discovered that is cameras that you can install along the floor boards so you can see if the person falls
Another option is the doorbell called “The Ring”. This has a camera built in and she can see who is at the front door on her phone. This way if the person you are caring for is laid up for any reason they can see and talk to who is at the door.
Next thing we set up was accounts on Uber and Lyft. This way, because my mother does not drive any longer, she can now go anywhere she wants.
We also set up her grocery shopping. If you go on the internet to your local grocery stores and check to see if they deliver. Ours does, so we set up an account with King Soopers and also with Walmart. We tried them both out with me helping her and it was a success and she was thrilled. The next thing was setting her up with Grubhub. This was also essential because all of us work and can’t get over every day to help with her cooking. With Grubhub she can call local restaurants and have food delivered. She would not have to rely on pizza or Chinese food. My mother is extremely happy right now. She can get her groceries and order food, and has transportation set up so she can do what she would like.
Checking to see which pharmacies will deliver is another huge item. Luckily, we have a pharmacy that is two blocks from her house that delivers. This comes in handy when we have sudden doctor appointments.
Another thing to consider is the phones. My mother has a cell phone, but we are thinking of putting her back on a house phone, and getting her a phone with huge numbers on it since her vision is not what it used to be. Also want to have the phone hooked up to a light that will flash because she does not like loud noises. One of the reasons for this is she can never find her cell phone. We are looking into setting up a tablet so she can do video calls with the family and she can see everyone, and we can see her. She also forgets to turn her ringer back on her cell phone and it may be days before we can get a hold of her.
A suggestion for you also is to get the daily pill containers and set her pills up in them for the month. We do this with my mother, and it is a good thing we do because I found her double dosing on one of her pills. Luckily, I caught it in time and it was not harmful for her. But you need to check on the pill taking regularly.
This would also be a great time to get your family members pictures out and get them all labeled on who and what is in the pictures. Once you get all this done you can have all the pictures put into a video form and shared with the family.
will keep adding suggestions to you that have worked for me in future blog posts. If you are going to be a caregiver, I wish you much success and happiness.
Till next time,