April 27th, 2010 at 8:13 am
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Balancing Staying at Home Eldercare Days

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

Some carers describe it as boring.  Others view it as “babysitting.”  Nearly 2 years into my decision to become a full-time stay-at-home carer to my beloved 85 year old mother, I can honestly state that I am neither bored nor am I a babysitter to my mother.

In fact, I often get to wondering where time has gone.  Could it be that I am actually having having fun?  Everyone claims that time flies when one is having fun, after all.  In my first 3 months as a full-time stay-at-home carer, much of my daytime hours were spent totally exhausted on my sofa. On my sofa, I perceived myself to be enjoying leisurely conversations and visits with Mom.

In her infinite wisdom, Mom saw otherwise.  She opened my eyes to the fact that I would often nod off in the midst of our conversations.  Interestingly, though, my exhaustion came from years of a demanding professional career with long hours, not from my new unpaid full-time family caregiver status.  If I accomplished anything consistently in my first 3 months, it was timely food preparation and service, clockwork doctors’ appointments for Mom, improved coordination and communication with Mom’s treating physicians, assisting her with organizing and timely administering her prescriptions, and testing her blood glucose at regular intervals throughout the day.

The neatest thing was that Mom no longer stayed at home alone all day.  She no longer felt a need to read the fine print in junk mail.  We enjoyed daily leisurely drives out, breakfast and brunch picnics in the park, and a little bit of this and that. We talked and laughed more.

Mom has always enjoyed keeping a clean kitchen.  Far be it from me to have prevented her from keeping my kitchen clean after I had cooked and served our meals and done the honors of her blood glucose testing.  After my first 3 months of adapting to being a full-time caregiver, I ditched my sofa naps in favor of getting a handle on Mom’s preferences, daily routines, eating habits and blood glucose.

That is when my new role as “caregiver police”  was born.  It works.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Mom, or any one of her skilled doctors.  We’re all partners in eldercare.  I’m unpaid.  Mom’s doctors are underpaid.  Mom, on the other hand, never allows a single day to go by without thanking God for being alive.  Neither do I.

“No man on his deathbed ever said he wished he had spent more time at work.”  Neither will I.  Like many other carers have expressed, I will, one day, wish my mother and Dad were still alive, however.  By then, I will have no care regrets.

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