The Care and Feeding of a Home Care Provider
How did you become a care giver?
Well like so many tasks that we tackle in life we put on our big person pants and get on with it. There are enormous amounts of joy and laughter involved in being a family care giver as Hospice Home Care Agency well as being connected to your aging loved one like no one else in the family.
There are special times, shared stories and an opportunity to extract family history that will be passed on to future generations. But there are times of grief, self pity, frustration, resentment and even anger which can lead to guilt that also have to be considered. Taking care of family, whether they are nine or ninety, is what we do. Please make note of the helpful hints I will give you at the end of the article to help you survive in your new role.
Family care givers usually acquire that title through a set of circumstances, events and the every popular family dynamics. The circumstances could be that you are the only child living close to mom, the event could be that she fell and the family dynamics could be that your brother just has “too much going on in his life” right now to even think about moving back to help. But we all have choices in life and your decision could be that you have chosen to take care of mom. Not out of guilt but out of desire. Once you have made that choice then that is where the excitement begins. When someone attacks a family predicament with passion and creativity then the outcome will be better for all concerned.
When you think of someone in need of a home care provider most likely you think of the elderly. In fact there are over fifty million Americans who have difficulty in performing the activities of daily living due to age, illness or a physical disability. And with over ten million of those folks age is not an issue, it is illness or a physical disability. For everyone receiving care I would bet that there are at least two others providing it.
We are living longer. Someone born in 1945 could expect to live until they were 66. Someone born in 2015 will have a life expectancy of 79 years. We are living longer but sometimes it’s not all that great. As director of a home care agency I have to opportunity to sit and chat with many of our senior clients. We provide home care for one of our clients in Phoenix who will be 90 in a couple of months. She has medical issues, vision and hearing issues but the one thing she complains about the most is fatigue. During one chat she scrunched up her face in anger and said: “Why can’t they find out what is wrong? With all the doctors I am seeing why can’t they get it right?” She is currently taking sixteen different medications.
Care giving is a job. It’s might not be a job that you applied but now that you have it you are looking for some guidance. If you have children then that was a conscious decision you made to bring children into the world and that you would be their care giver. Now men, don’t get mad at me but statistically speaking family care givers are female. In fact over 65% of family care givers are female. If both your parents are living then the family caregiver is the usually the spouse. In over 70% of elderly men it is the spouse who provides care but that drops to 33% if the wife needs the care.
Think of the jobs you do when you are a mom, that is besides your paying job out of the home. Now these are the additional jobs you take on as a family care giver.
Accountant and money manager. At the very least you will be making sure the bills are paid so the heat doesn’t get shut off in the winter. But most likely you will be paying bills, transferring funds from savings to checking and making sure things don’t go into default.
Medical adviser. Doing internet searches to make sure that the new supplement she is taking isn’t conflicting with the blood pressure medication.
House keeper. Getting the crud off the stove because while mom was an excellent house keeper back in the day, she just can’t see the splatters of spaghetti sauce that has crusted over.
Personal hygiene assistant. At the very least doing standby duty while she showers or bathes.
Cook. While she can still operate the microwave a nice homemade casserole is always a treat.
Driver. Many, many doctors appointments, lab tests and then there is grocery shopping, pharmacies, etc.
These are just some of your new duties that you will take on along with responsibilities to your family and your job. Have you heard of the “Sandwich Generation” well you’re it. Sandwiched between your children and your parents.
But don’t fret there are other family members to help right? In a perfect world all will be there to help. We had a client who had terminal cancer with really only a short time left. We provided overnight home care for him in Peoria, AZ; his wife had passed on several years earlier and he now lived alone. He had three children who were now in their sixties who lived not to far away. Hospice of the Valley visited often providing palliative care. His children would rotate during the day to provide care and we provided care givers for the overnight hours until one of the children arrived the next morning. He was covered with loving care 24/7 and passed in his sleep one night. In this situation the family care givers through many family meetings divided up the duties and also brought in professional help so that they could still spend quality time with their dad until the end.