Chip and Julie

Your Story: Asking for Help

We'd love to hear your stories about some of the themes and issues we'll be dealing with in Episode 3 of Your Turn to Care, "Ask." Below are a series of questions that some of the families we have profiled are facing. If you're dealing with a situation like one of these, let us know in comments and we may use your story on air or online. You can also visit our Connect page to find other ways to share your story.

Assisted Living Facility

  • Are you shopping for an assisted living facility?
  • What cultural boundaries did you have to overcome to make your decision to place a loved one in a facility?
  • Once in an assisted living facility, how did your aging senior adjust?
  • Were you prepared for the financial realities of the various professional caregiving options?


Consulting with a Gerontologist and Lawyer

  • Who did you consult with to find a good place for your aging family member?
  • Did you work with a care manager to help you navigate the world of professional caregivers?

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I am my moms sole caregiver. She is 86 years old. I clean her house. I order her meds. I explain to her what her meds are for and how she should take them. I take her to the doctors and sit with the doctor so I know what is going with my mom physically. I live in a apartment overhead of my mom. I am disabled myself. I visit with my mom several times a day just so someone is around that she know cares. Her other adult children do not visit except for one other daughter. She has 6 kids. Her one son took her husband my father when he had a stroke and moved in with him and took the bank account which was his motive for taking my dad. My dad is a sensitive man I am hoping he is getting his emotional needs met since my brother can be a very harsh man.

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First off, I'd like to commend you on your dedication to your parent(s)... it truly is a tough responsibility and decision to make. I totally understand your circumstances, as mine are similar...... I too am the sole caregiver of both of my aging disabled parents, my mother, 79, has severe dementia and she is progressing at a high rate from year to year, which means a lot of adjustments around the house, physical needs, and my own mental stabilization.....and my father, 81, who suffers from multiple symptoms of chronic heart disease and clogged arteries throughout his body, not to mention his COPD and cirrhosis.... he is barely walking by using a walker, he is a proud man, and refuses a lot of care and like most seniors.... neither of my parents are used to change or help from others.

I too have siblings whom I have written off years ago... primarily due to the reaction and actions that were taken when they all realized the health issues my parents have.... I am the youngest of 5 but I have been the wiser of all of them. I relocated back home about 5 years ago now and live in my parents home next door to them, they own a duplex home. I do all the things that you mentioned you do to make sure they are living as comfortable as I can possibly make them, within my own means, and for how ever long God decides to grant them life.

My distant older brother was never much of help within the family and leaned on EVERYBODY and always had some kind of get rich quick type of profession.... he never took care of himself and so ended up disabled with his own health issues... he wasn't a smart man at all but an emotional man.... all this to say.. he couldn't live with life's challenges or dealings and decided to take his own life early this past January.... at least now his soul can rest. My other distant brother, saw the early stages of my parents eventual health impairments and took them for all they had... and almost had them evicted from their own home, I"m glad I caught on early enough to pair with one of my sisters to help maintain their property.... two years of total anguish. My oldest sister, well, lets just say... she has her own health issues, Lupus, and other challenges like: being greedy, placing blame on anyone she can, placing extreme judgement on others, and plain just being stubborn.... Need-less-to-say, we've had our serious ups and downs, more downs than ups..... but over the past few years I've been able to manipulate somewhat of a speaking relationship with her and try to maintain a balance of interest for my parents best interest.... and last but not least... I have an other older sister, whom is closest to me on age by a great span of at least 7-8 years.... we do nit speak at all, she has her own life issues that she refuses to deal with... like getting older and accepting your age.... a real BIG problem... she was given several opportunities to be a part of the process when it came to my parents... she refused and made sure she was no where to be found, someplace in Seattle Washington... unmless she needs something, of course.... but she knows better than to call me.
I share all of this, for you and anyone else to read, as I am NEW to this site and in hopes that maybe there is someone else out there can somewhat relate and may need to know that WE are not alone in this venture....I've learned along this path that I have built up some THICK SKIN, which is essential for caregivers to have especially when they are taking care of loved ones.
It's bad enough that our loved ones are suffering from their health issues, they didn't ask for this... and it's even that much harder for the caregiver(s), US, to have to deal with all the nonsense of others, when they choose to think of only themselves in situations like this.
I've had to leave 5 good jobs in my recent lifetime to be here full time for one reason or another and finding good help is truly hard to do, at least where I live.... I've had to fire several outside caregivers, of all ages, some for their own mistakes and some due to the simple fact that my mother's dementia did not allow for her to adjust well with a strange face...... kinda ironic, especially when she doesn't know her own husband anymore or even who I am, I am like three different people to her at times, it all depends on the day, but I know that I am scarcely known as her youngest son, something I had to accept early on.
I struggle sometimes with thoughts of "How am I?" going to do this, or, "What about?" me, this can't be my life, how much more can I take, can I do this and keep them safe in thier own home and maintain their health... I'm by no means a doctor, a nurse..... sometimes, before I know it, I realize that I know more than the Customer service people I end up with when calling their medical... then I get frustrated, because, I would expect health care professionals, all the way up to managers, should be required to have a passion and compassion about their job and their clientele, then to realize, they are just some young, just graduated from high school, lucked up on a job that paid their bills and really don't have a care in the world about what the healthcare industry really means to the elderly, the disabled (all ages) and the general public that need health care and rely on their expertise to help them through, especially when the other person on the other end of the line calling in, is clueless and is looking for guidance.
Okay, I've shared a lot.... this was my release time and me time, late at night before I get some rest before another restless day of trying to take care of a double household from A to Z.
Good Night!

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Thank you Xandre for sharing your story. You're correct when you say that you are not alone and by sharing your story you help others understand this as well. You definitely have a heavy load to carry. If you haven't done so already, please be sure to connect with caregiver support groups in your area or on-line as well as organizations that provide respite for caregivers. A great place to start is http://www.eldercare.gov. All the best to you and your family!

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As we all have to endure the everyday life of a caregiver, we most find time for ourselves. Me time is critical to the stress that can build up over time. I've learned that working out gives one a way to release stress & stay healthy as well. There no cure all for being a caregiver. However, keeping one's mind, body, & soul in balance will give you endurance over time. I too am the caregiver for our mom. There are three men in the family, which two are stepping up to the plate. I, of course am the baby boy in the family. Only God knows how long our parents will be here w/us. Until then we just do what we can to make them as comfortable as possible. My mother is 79 yrs. young & have dealing w/ Rheumatoid Arthritis, as well as dementia over the past 30 years. The last 15 years have been the toughest on all of us. Through prayer & family & friends support, things are looking up. Thank you KCET for this forum. A great way to vent, exployer new ideas & information.

Funders
MetLife Foundation The Lippey Family Trust Gladyce L. Foster
California Community Foundation