Yesterday I wrote a whole post about the difficulty of finding a good paid caregiver.
I woke up today to hand over to the caregiver on my way to work. At 30 minutes past her arrival time, I called the agency. When the agency called, she indicated that she was not coming in at all!
The timing is too funny. Perhaps I should be careful what I complain about here…
When I began hiring paid caregivers for Mom, I had no idea what a challenge it would be. The first person we worked with, I was not pleased by but I was hesitant to get rid of her. When Mom started telling me that the caregiver was stealing from me, I decided that she simply had to go.
This was not because I believed that the caregiver was stealing, but my take was that the relationship between Mom and the caregiver was completely broken down in a way that was not helpful to anyone. So we moved on to number two. In the meantime, I had been asking for help with laundry and arguing about whose laundry the caregiver would do. Apparently perfect segregation of laundry was required which I explained to them with a woman with her state of dementia, meant no laundry at all. Trying to fight the battle to separate her laundry from the rest of the household was a no go for me and Mom.
I switched caregiving services with the agreement from the new place that household laundry was fine.
And then we starting going through caregivers. What I find fascinating is that I have to assume that Mom is relatively easy as folks come. We have no issues with incontinence or negative type behaviors. Mom is polite to a fault, even now. All her critiques are made in whispers to me in the other room while she puts on a smiling face. (It has taught me something about the other side of what I experienced in her parenting.)
And yet, easy as she is, some of them don’t make an effort to connect to her. Some don’t seem to like to help around the house and prefer to watch television. Many of them seem comfortable leaving her alone for hours on end. Some just are not a good personality fit which is fair enough. And so they go, one after the next. And then we come to today, when I discovered that the caregiver had not bothered to check that the shower was turned off after Mom’s shower. Seriously?! I suppose I should be glad that I never came home to a burner left on all day…
A colleague who has been on the caregiving treadmill for a while told me that in her experience it takes perhaps three tries to find the right fit. We are long beyond that now! It’s been a strange adjustment to all this hiring and firing. But I have become more confident that Mom deserves a reasonable level of treatment for the money and that I am not willing to accept less than that.
Anyone out there have a tough time finding a good caregiver? Tips welcome!
So, my sister suffers from a disability and has lived with Mom basically her entire life. Mom has spent a substantial amount of her life energy as a caregiver to my sister, worrying about her and loving her through some serious ups and downs.
When Mom was hospitalized a few months ago– having completely passed out– when she came to in the middle of the night, she asked the nurse to call home to check on my sister. When I visited and understood her mental state later that day, I was shocked that she had been able to articulate that need to the nurse.
No matter how many other things Mom may be forgetting, she remembers to care for my sister. She asks how she is doing. She looks in on her. Mom reminds me to be gentle to Sis and how much harder life is for her. It amazes me how solid this relationship remains even as Mom forgets all else. To Sis, Mom almost consistently demonstrates compassion and concern. Today she stopped Sis to ask if she was feeling downtrodden, a question I certainly am never asked. The amount she can do may be more limited, but Mom always remembers to try.
These days of course my sister cares for Mom more than vice versa which has been a beautiful reversal. But Mom will never see it that way.
I can only conclude that love is a deep habit. My mother’s instinct to protect and shelter her younger daughter comes from her deepest feelings. It remains strong when so many other memories and thoughts fade away. I have watched as the circle of people Mom remembers tightens from the many she used to entertain and correspond with a few years ago to just remembering those closest few today.
One day the loving concern for Sis will also fade. But not without a valiant fight from Mom to keep caring as she knows only a mother can.
During a recent discussion with the home caregiving service, Mom happily stated to the nurse that she has a car and drives. They were of course surprised to hear this– as was I.
Mom drove longer with her dementia than I think was advisable. Without realizing how quickly she was deteriorating, I moved her into a location that was extremely car dependent but not too far from me. She quickly showed signs of slower reactions and increasingly poor judgement. It was no longer safe.
I had to take action. And yet Mom was always so proud. How was I going to handle taking away that critical piece of inddependence? Luckily, Mom’s memory loss provided an easy solution. The second or third time Mom left her lights on overnight and her battery died, I did nothing to fix it.
Her car sat there, inoperable. And Mom accepted that. We would talk in generality about getting it fixed. And Mom just grew accustomed to not driving. Then finally, one day, she moved with me to the city and her car just went away…
And so, in Mom’s mind, apparently, she is a still a driver. She just happens to live with a daughter who really likes to drive in a place where we don’t need to do that much of it.
(And has absolutely no contact with any car keys. Ever.)