Officially tomorrow is my last day of working outside the home. I’ve had to make the change to full time care of my mother.
Three years ago, my parents moved from Delaware to Virginia; 1/2 mile from my home. We were to be the elected caregivers for them as they aged. This past August it became apparant to me and my siblings that Mom was getting worse and Dad was not handling it well.
My husband and I put our house on the market, we moved in with them, and I cut my hours to part-time. Six months later Mom has progressed from stage 4 to stage 6 and I just don’t know what to expect anymore.
All I’ve read tells me that stages last from 1-2.5 years. Why is she going so fast? Will the decline rate continue? Somedays I pray for it to speed up! She is in such agony and despair. “I want to go home” is her favorite phrase.
Her moods swing drastically from exhaustion to rage. One minute she’s ready to die, the next she’s ready to kill!!! Caregiving is not new to me…my husband and I cared for his father before he passed but it was different.
I love her but I can’t stand her…I know there are others who feel that way too so I’m not going to beat myself up about it. One day at a time is my motto. I just have to get thru this day. Thank God, Dad is just old and bored and very frustrated at Mom for being such a “pain in the a_ _!” At some level, I know he understands but just doesn’t want to deal with it.
I’d really love to hear what’s going on with others. I know I’m not in this boat alone.
It is far from easy, isn’t it? Two years ago I moved my parents in with me because of Dad’s Alzheimers and because they kept messing up their finances. Once we were all living together, I noticed how bad Mom has gotten. Many of the issues they were going through were Mom’s doing, though she would usually blame Dad and his memory. Dad will at least admit that his mind is going….well, at least most of the time. Mom is in complete denial about it and will lie through her teeth to cover up her memory lapses. Even after having her doctor tell her that she is in the beginning stages of senility, she’ll insist that there is nothing wrong with her memory.
It took me a year to convince them to give me Power of Attorney. after which I contacted everyone they have to deal with…doctors, bills, etc, and faxed them a copy of the POA and changed the contact number to my cell phone. This way, Mom cannot hide appointments and bills on me.
After they drained their accounts twice on me and lost over $3,000.00, I convinced them to let me take over their money. This took some work, since Mom is VERY independent and stubborn. It even took some out and out lies on my part, telling them I was hurting for money and needed their help to pay the bills. Now we’re all on an allowance. When it’s “our payday” we each get a certain amount of cash and we each have to sign for that cash on the budget. This way, they can’t say they never got any money from me. I also make them both sign the budget saying I went over it with them, so when they accuse me of stealing all their money and not telling them what I’m doing with it, I can show them that they knew at the time. My goal is to get them into a nice assisted living home, but that won’t happen until I get their credit cleaned up.
When we have something scheduled, I make them write it on their calendar in their own handwriting then initial it. This way, they can’t say I never told them and they can’t say they never knew….it’s right there in their handwriting.
These steps may seem a bit much, but they have saved alot of arguments and have helped to convince Mom that she is experiencing memory issues.
One other thing I’ve learned that helps is keeping them busy. Giving them simple tasks and making them think it will be a huge help to me. I work alot of hours, anywhere from 40 to 70 hours a week, depending on what month it is, and I work nights. Giving them a basket of towels and bedding, and telling them I really need it washed but don’t have time, will keep them occupied for a whole day. Of course, I have a whole list of how to use the washer and drier on the laundry room wall so they can follow it. Or, I’ll tell them I’m supposed to have company, will they please dust the house, or vacuum it, and they’ll stay busy at it all day. They won’t do the cleaning just for the sake of doing it, but if I really need help, it’s a whole different story. My parents need to feel like they’re helping and are needed. They need to feel useful. However, there are times when I run out of ideas of what to have them do. Nights when I’m working 12 to 14 hours, I need to sleep and can’t afford to have them wake me several times to ask questions about it. So, I have to be careful what jobs I give them and when.
I have noticed, though, that they are happier the busier they are. And they’re less apt to be grumpy or get into things they shouldn’t get into. Having their friends and relatives stop to visit often helps. They’ll sit and chat for hours, and all I need to do is make sure there are snacks and soda or other drinks available. I even call their friends and family, inviting them over for a chat at least weekly, to make sure mom and dad stay busy.
I hope this helps some. I’ve learned these lessons the hard way. And I’ll gladly take any other ideas anyone would like to share.
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