Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Needing ideas

OK, it’s your turn. We’re at Mom’s again, with medical appointments Monday and Tuesday. What I’m increasingly running into is Mom’s lack of “getting it” that her energy levels are quickly declining. She will run errands, try to flip a mattress (seriously!), pull weeds, or clean the house. Then she’s so tired she can’t even talk. She refuses to make a list of things she needs us or any of my sibs to do when we come. Things that any of us could do in 10 minutes, but would take her an hour and risk an injury. She truly seems to not understand the idea of conserving her energy for the things she enjoys. Everything is an emergency. Everything has to be done when she thinks of it. We want her to be independent as long as possible, but she’s shortening that time by stubborn decisions or lack of understanding—I’m not sure which. She’s 87 years old and I’m not being very successful in teaching her a new way of thinking. Has anyone had success in this? I’m getting desperate.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

What would be most helpful?

An anonymous commenter to my last post says, "It would be interesting to see what your blog readers thinks that would help them manage multi-generational care giving responsibilities – a) flex hours at work, b) an understanding spouse, c) help from an outside source, d) technology advances."

What do you think? What would help you the most to keep from feeling utterly smooshed? I'm blessed to be self-employed, so I have the flexible hours. Hubby has been amazingly gracious and understanding. He usually accompanies me to Mom's and does many of the home maintenance tasks that she needs. He also hasn't complained about the increasing expense in getting there.

I guess my answer would be (c). I'd love help from an outside source that was reasonable and affordable. I heard the other day about a woman whose full time job is simply coordinating the care for an elderly man. She doesn't provide the care--just hires and manages. I feel like her, but without the paycheck. I thought we had a housekeeper to come in a couple of times per month and help with the heavy stuff. She came once, didn't do a very good job, and now needs surgery. So Mom is back on her own. Rather than waiting for hubby and I to come over, she tried to flip her mattress and cut her good hand... Someone who would simply check in once a day and perhaps help with a few things would be so wonderful. Someone to accompany her to the doctors' appointments I can't make would be wonderful. Someone to provide a meal every few days would be wonderful. Someone to make appointments and phone calls would be a real gift, and someone to answer Mom's questions, which seem to be getting more complicated with less understanding, would be wonderful.

What about you? What would help you the most?

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Monday, July 07, 2008

If only I had known…

Jane Gross in today’s NY Times echoes the woes of Gen Sandwichers everywhere. We learn by doing and by making mistakes. Unfortunately, it’s our parents who pay the price for our learning curve. Every day, every phone call raises a new challenge, a new dilemma that I don’t know how to solve. Sometimes I guess right; sometimes I’m wrong. Hopefully I won’t make a serious error in judgment, either medically or financially. I want my mom’s final years to be as carefree as possible, but when her only backup is me, it’s pretty tenuous. So far I haven’t blown it too badly, but every day is a new challenge.

With her recent fall, my brother and I made some mistakes that we didn’t know until later. We signed up for LifeAlert when we meant to call LifeLine. We contracted with a homemaker agency and later learned they could only do 20% homemaking. The rest needed to be personal care. We already had an agency providing PT and bath assistance. What Mom needed was homemaking services. We had to cancel that contract and hire an individual to help with homemaking. Minor errors, but frustrating.

I also run into continuing challenges with medical care. Fortunately, I have some limited knowledge, but never enough, it seems. She has some conditions that her primary seems to take pretty lightly. I’m never sure when to press for a referral and when to trust him. Like Jane Gross, I long for a gerontologist who will manage her care. And I pray that the mistakes I make will be minor…

How do you handle the uncertainties?

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