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“Growing old isn’t for sissies”

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“Growing old isn’t for sissies” – my dad has said this for as long as I can remember. And as he and my mom celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary, he said it again.

For anyone new, my mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinsons several years ago. Dementia is not unexpected based on our family history. Parkinsons was quite the shock. And we are now seeing both in full effect.

My sister and I had fun doing 80s style makeup with my mom when I went to Texas to bring my mom back for a couple of weeks in May.

My dad has been my mom’s primary and only caregiver for all this time. I am the oldest of 5 siblings; they help out as much as they can, giving my dad relief when he needs to go do something, it really is on him. And I don’t think any of us really knew what that meant…until my mom came to stay with me for two weeks.

The Caretaker Challenge

I was trying to explain to my kids, it’s not always about the physical needs, which are significant, but it’s also the mental wear and tear. Worrying every moment she is out of your sight if she has fallen out of bed, fallen down in the bathroom or just tripped somewhere. And my dad can no longer get her up when she falls, so he’s had to start calling for the fire department. I didn’t realize the fire department offered that service, but my twins, both volunteer firefighters in our hometown, say it is and encourage my dad to take advantage of it rather than hurting himself.

I digress…

What Help can We Provide

We know there will come a time when my mom will need more help than can be provided at home. But we are not there yet. It is time to help my dad out yet, we don’t want his care-taking responsibilities to adversely affect his health.

I don’t know what this looks like. I don’t know what resources are available. But this week in Texas, it is my goal to get the answers to both of those questions. I would love the BAD community’s experience here.

My thoughts are that my mom need some activities that require physical exertion. And my dad needs regular hours where he can take a physical and mental break while still knowing my mom is safely cared for. Please send me any suggestions, experience and as always prayers that we are able to come up with something that satisfies both my mom’s care and my dad’s relief.


2 Comments

  • Reply Den |

    We have a “senior daycare” type of facility where for a small fee (sometimes based on income), a person can be dropped off for a few hours of activities while the care giver gets a few hours break.

    Maybe check your local senior services?

  • Reply Andrea |

    When my Dad’s health was declining, he started having a visiting nurse/aide 2 or 3 times a week. They were short visits, so not the kind of thing that would give a caregiver a real break, but they helped with bathing, changing the sheets once he became bedridden, treating any wounds/bedsores, etc. It was also good to have another set of eyes on his medical condition and someone my Mom could ask any questions she had. They also helped with the transition to hospice once he reached that point.
    All of this was covered by Medicare–but they have to consider there to be a medical need for the visits. They don’t consider personal care (bathing, dressing, etc) to be a medical need if it’s the only thing required. Also, if the person is able to leave the house (ie, get to doctor appointments) then they typically won’t qualify (there is some wiggle room for patients with dementia because while they may be physically able to leave the house they are not psychologically able to do so).

    Your mom sounds like she’s not at the point to qualify for this yet, but something to keep in mind and speak to her doctors about to help determine at what point they might certify her as qualifying for additional home support through Medicare (and it won’t be full time care, the hours and duration are limited).

So, what do you think ?