When One Hour is More than Four


When One Hour is More than Four

Quality vs. Quantity seems to be an argument attributed to just about anything. It is often said that it's the quality of the time you spend with your children, not the quantity that matters. This is especially lauded when the person's point was to assure listeners that it didn't matter that there wasn't a lot of time spent, what mattered was that it was quality time; focused, singular, fun/dramatic/entertaining...

When my mom moved in with me five months ago, I was comfortable with the medical side of things. I understood her diagnoses'. I knew how to administer her medications and when to delay them if necessary. I knew what appointments she needed and when. Her vision and hearing issues were not at all a concern for me. Mobility would be an issue; balance and fatigue, and navigating different terrain. Upkeep and maintenance of her various apparatuses was part of my agenda; cane, walker, cochlear implant, regular hearing aid, vision devices, and her ICD (pacemaker).

Of course, though I was aware of these responsibilities, it took some time to adjust to making them a part of my own schedule, my own calendar.

As she's settled into my life and I've settled into hers, I realize that the most important role I play in giving care to my mother, is that of activities director and coordinator. She's not in her own home anymore. When she was in the place she'd been for more than 60 years, people would just drop in - some on a more regular basis than others. Friends, acquaintances, neighbors, old co-workers, family - they all knew where to find her... and did. But now she's in a new home, a new neighborhood. I've reached out to many of them. I've adopted an open door policy, for my mother's sake. I even created a room separate from her bedroom, so that she can visit with friends more privately. I've tried my best to be proactive; letting people know how much she appreciates visitors, and also letting them know that certain times of the day are best.

The results of my best efforts are pretty measly. I cringe a bit as I write this because she has wonderful family and friends who are indeed a part of her life. That said, here's what I've learned; that old adage "quality vs. quantity" needs one more thing added to it - consistency. Look, I get it. We lead busy lives. Some say busier than ever, though I'm not sure the farming families of the 1800's, who grew their own food, washed clothes without electricity and kept warm without flipping a switch, would agree. Also, I have to admit that before becoming a full time caregiver, I too did not understand the importance of consistency. I do now.

A one hour visit that happens once a week, on the same day, at the same time is much preferred to a four-hour visit haphazardly thrown in once a month. In fact, a one hour visit that happens on the first Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am would be preferred to a four hour visit - once a month that's inconsistent in day and time. Why? I've had to think about this to come up with an answer. As I see it, there are three main reasons.

Regular Consistent Visits give my mother something to look forward to. She once told me that she didn't like getting an invitation to do something at the last minute as well as she did knowing all week that she'd be doing it because then she missed out on the best part; the joy of anticipation.

Putting Visits on Calendar at regular intervals allow me as the caregiver, to space activities and visits out so that she doesn't have long gaps where she doesn't see anyone except me. As wonderful and entertaining as I am (that's sarcasm), she gets to see me and my beautiful shining face (more sarcasm) 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Having other people adding their own conversations and interests to her life, makes her own life more interesting and vibrant.

We all Want to Know We're Valued and that doesn't change with age or disability. To the visitor it might be just an hour or two once a month. To the caree, it's so much bigger. It means they are important, that being in their company isn't a chore but a joy. And to the caree who is mostly homebound, it brings the outside world in, in a way that their primary caregiver just can't do.

I hope I can figure out a way to convey this truth I've discovered to mom's family and friends. Until then, we'll limp along and be ever-grateful for each visit as it comes.

Happy Care Giving!




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I think you really hit the nail on the head. Well stated.