Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Friday, June 01, 2007

In Search of The Perfect Caregiver

Do you ever feel inadequate as you care for your aging parents? The writer at A Blog of Thinking Allowed ponders the question of how to make a wise decision in the midst of uncertainty and indecision, knowing that whatever we decide, it will never be (or seem) good enough.

At some point you will have to make a decision that is only the best of choices. There might not be a “good” choice available. Odds are, your parent will reach a point when no decision you make will be satisfactory to him/her! If they already had a habit of disapproving your actions, it will be an even tougher path. If they are also in denial about the level of care they need, it will oft times feel like the parent-child roles have been reversed. It’s almost too easy to fall into the scenario of them stomping their feet that they don’t want to, and you, stomping your feet that you don’t want to either but have to!

Do your best. Give a good effort. Make the decisions that are foisted upon you. Then step back and tell yourself, “You’re doing a good job.”

Boy can I relate to this! I have felt for the past two years that I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t know how to do it. Every decision seems to be a new one. Few problems have “good” answers—just the better of two “not-so-good” answers. I grow weary of the task of parenting my parent, especially given the prospect the it won’t get better—only more complex. The perfectionist in me wants to do it right. After all, the stakes are high. But I seldom feel that I’m scoring above a C+.

So, each day I can simply do my best. Give an effort. Make the decisions I have to make with the best information available at the time. And then tell myself I’m doing a good job. Sort of like raising kids, isn’t it?

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2 comment(s):

I relate to this because Mom said she wanted to stay in the nursing home rather than move to the assisted living. But the nursing home was more than twice as expensive!

I made spread sheets of the various options and the numbers convinced her to move. She actually moved only about 200 yards away from her nursing home room, so it wasn't as difficult as one might think. My sister and I would have picked a different assisted living facility for her, but the cost would have been higher.

One part of our difficulty in making the decision is that mom will run out of money in "awhile." At that point, we don't know what we will do. The assisted living facilities there don't take Medicade. Her home is too difficult for an elderly person, or she would have gone home already. There is a government program that she could get on the THREE YEAR WAITING LIST for--after she is down to about $35,000. She is 89 years old now! The assisted living facilities that take that program (not many do) have a quota.

So we decided just to make the decision that was best for now. We'll cross the future bridge when we come to it.

By Blogger P.S. an after-thought, at 7:14 AM  

Isn't it amazing all we go through?!?! And all feeling like we have a bag on our head. One thing I'm learning as I go through this is that even if I feel totally clueless, God isn't. I've been amazed to see the little ways that He guides and directs. He knows when our parents will run out of money and when they need to next step. As I look back on the process of caring for my step dad, right up to the moment of his death, God's hand has been clear. He has made sure that I've made the right decisions.

For example, I interviewed the owner of the care home on the phone and determined my parents would never be able to understand her accent. I didn't even go for a site visit. But in all of the places I looked, I wouldn't put him in any of them. When I called the referring agency again, the social worker said she really thought we should try this care home. It was the best in town and the fact that there was an opening was amazing. She volunteered to take Mom over to check it out. Mom liked it, as did Dad when they took him. They learned to deal with the language problems better than I would ever have imagined they would.He spent six wonderful months there, happy and well fed. And Mom was invited to lunch every day, giving her at least one hot meal a day. I tried to make the wrong decision, but God protected all of us and moved us in the right direction.

This is just one example of dozens I could tell you, right up to the moment of his death. Seeing this has helped me to worry less and walk more confidently... most of the time.

By Blogger Pat, at 9:33 PM  

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