Confessions of a First-Time Caregiver - Part 4


Confessions of a First-Time Caregiver - Part 4

800px-Old_Brass_Door_KnockerHome Invasion

I have no idea if we're doing this right.

Dad needs 24-hour monitoring. He's gotten very strong in these eight weeks since the stroke. He's popping out his chair, walking around, often leaving his walker behind. It all sounds encouraging, but it's extremely dangerous. He's still a high-level fall risk.

My brother and I have taken residence at our parents' house. My brother lives 12 hours away and came in fully available to care for Dad, but a week ago he took a full-time job. He's gone back home twice, a week each time. My sister swoops in when she can, but she has a larger family and a pretty important job with the State. She can come a few days during the week and on the weekend when she doesn't have family obligations.

Me, I work for myself and have been here the whole time, working between my shifts being at the hospital, the inpatient rehab center and now in their home. During the day, it's me and Mom watching Dad, feeding him, doing his exercises with him, entertaining him -- sometimes it's hard for me to slip away to work. The past couple weeks, when my sister comes up, I've been able to go home, but just for a day and a half.

My mother hasn't been able to go anywhere. She said her breaks come when she sleeps, takes a shower, or when the senior bus takes her to a doctor's appointment. I don't know when the last time she was alone in the house. It's been completely taken over.

My parents have great church family and neighbors. There has been an outpouring of support and concern. Lots of folks have popped by to give their regards. Many unannounced.

And then there's the in-home therapy gang; the nurse to assess, social worker to go over options, the physical therapist, occupational therapist, the speech therapist. We cancelled the nurse and home aid since Dad doesn't have any other ailments. With the others coming twice a week, any more would just make things crazier.

This week, the in-home therapy is over, but I will have to take him to outpatient therapy at least twice a week. In an effort to relieve our daytime burden, Bro took it upon himself to make several appointments with social workers who, you guessed it, come to the house to assess our needs.

My folks moved to this house in 2003 when my mother joined my dad in retirement. They've probably had more people through here in the past month than in the whole 13 years they've been here. My folks are introverts.  Polite, generous, yet...antisocial. They're not the entertaining type. They like quiet. They're homebodies. They enjoy unspoken conversation. It's just how they are.

The good part is the state and VA (Dad was in the Navy) could probably get someone in here eight hours a day every day of the week. This could allow what I think the most efficient way to handle this: Each sibling stay a week at a time on their own. That way, my folks would only have to deal with us one at a time and a home health aid could be there when we need to work, run an errand, or just chill. Meanwhile, the other two siblings get two weeks of their lives back, uninterrupted.

The question is, will my folks tolerate more strangers in their home?

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Oh Mike, the invasion of the medical folks must really test your parent's privacy. Its been good to have the help and I sure like your ideas about the siblings taking turns. With the right Health Aid, they might even enjoy having the same person around regularly. I had problems with the health aids that I had gotten to help Elly. . . she would tell them to leave, she didn't need help and so they left. I had to coach them to \"sweet talk\" her so that I could be comfortable leaving her alone for a weekend away!


Mike, I can totally relate to the fear of your Dad falling and needing 24 hour monitoring. It's the same way for me and my Dad. I think it's wonderful that you have siblings that are willing to help. I'm an only child, so the thought of having others to share responsibility with sounds very appealing! I have found some things that have really helped with monitoring my Dad. I don't know if what I'm using would be helpful to you, but you can look into it and see what you think. I have video cameras to monitor Dad since I'm really the only one around 24/7. They have night vision and are wifi so I can use an app on my smartphone to keep an eye (ear at night). I am able to use the mic in my phone to speak to him if I can't get to him right away. Your parents may not need it b/c your mom seems to be able to care for him, and they may not be comfortable with \"big brother\" watching, but it has saved my Dad's life when I heard him struggling to breath one night and he wasn't able to reach the wireless doorbell I have near his bed for him to alert me if he needs help. (I also have a doorbell by his chair in the living room) The other thing I have that has been a lifesaver is a seat alarm pad that I use in his chair and put in his bed at night. I don't know if Dad doesn't always realize the danger of his inability to balance, or if he's just trying to spare me the work, but the alarm has gone off many times and alerted me, and reminded him to sit back down and wait for help. It's a 3 part unit - the alarm, the pad that attaches to it, and the alarm that goes in another room. It's not cheap. I was fortunate to be able to borrow a unit from our local Services for the Elderly. I spent about $50 for a 6 month pad.\r\n\r\nHope the info helps! Keep up the good work!! =)