This blog is written by Gayle Yarbrough who spent many years as a caregiver. You will be reading more blogs from Gayle. I really think you will learn much about the lives of the caregiver. Gayle is an excellent writer and she will draw you into her journey. The ups and downs of the 24 hour care that is given to a loved one. Please do not by pass reading the Blogs from Gayle, because some day you may be the caregiver for a Loved one or Best friend and you will be grateful for the information you received from Gayle Yarbrough.
So grab a cup of coffee, find a nice spot to sit and read this very informative blog from Gayle.
MY JOURNEY AS THE SOLE CAREGIVER IN HOME
This is my personal journey of care-giving for my Parents in their home. It all began about 2008 for me. My Dad was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s. He was still high functioning and independent, but was having difficulty with his banking affairs. I started to notice signs of memory loss more and more. He was put on two types of medication that the neurologist said would help keep symptoms at bay.
Fast forward to 2014….my Dad was having difficulty in his driving, scared me to death when I rode with him, so I requested to the Dr. To have his license taken away thru DMV. Then I noticed things in the home that were becoming unsafe. There was a floor cleaner in fridge, purple in color. Dad couldn’t open it, thank goodness! I found tile chalking on the shelf in bathroom, him thinking it was toothpaste. I lived 8 miles away, so began driving over every evening. I’d fix my parents dinner and prep them a lunch for next day. Figuring they could use the microwave to warm up leftovers or soup.
Then they began burning the food up in microwave because instead of 3 minutes they’d hit 30 minutes. They no longer knew how to use the TV remote, microwave, washer or dryer or stove. I then decided it was time I moved in. This was February 2015. I figured no biggie I’d care for them as I had made a pack with them years ago that I wouldn’t put them into a nursing care home.
As time went on I began to feel overwhelmed but did I ask for help? Nope…I just kept it to myself.
Then My Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016. She had more of a drastic loss of memory, short term and long term. I thought to myself can I deal with both of them like this? Sure I could and I would! I have family that live in the same town but they all worked full time so I didn’t bother them.
In 2017 my Dad was needing full time assist to dress, shower, shave and guidance to the toilet. In 2018 my Dad had a turn. He could no longer stand or walk, he was leaning hard to the right and he couldn’t talk. I called the paramedics and off he went to the ER. After 8 hours they transferred him to a bigger hospital. No sign of stroke so decided to “observe” him in the hospital. I have since found out that if they admit them under observation they are considered on outpatient status, even tho they may stay several days.
This wasn’t explained to me. If they are sent to a skilled nursing care center YOU will be stuck with the bill, because of the hospital admitting them under observation. Medicare requires a three day hospital stay before they will help cover rehabilitative care. So be sure and ask the status of admitting!
I stayed in my Dads room and there was hardly any care by nurses. He was having swallowing issues so I asked for a study. The tech said yes he needs soft foods liquefied. No one was there to offer help in feeling him. They would bring his tray and leave. He could no longer move his feeding tools to his mouth. So I fed him his foods. They sent in a Physical therapist to work on him getting up and walking. Ummm could they not tell he was never gonna walk again, he was now bedridden!
After 4 days of this Kind of care, I asked his Dr. If he could go home under hospice care. The Dr. Said yes….So by the time we got home, things were set up, hospital bed ECT.
It was an emotional toll on me to see him so frail. I slept on a mattress on the floor next to his hospital bed. He just lay in his bed but would eat the foods offered.
Nine days later he just went to sleep peacefully July 2018. It was a hard journey with him but I wouldn’t trade it. I felt so alone caring for him while other family was out having fun, going on vacations ECT. But I choose to care for them till the end, in their home. I am still caring for my Mom who is 93!
WHEN YOUR LOVED ONE CANT AFFORD A CARE HOME
When your loved ones can’t afford a care home or to hire respite care, you have to make the choice of caring for them. I sought help thru Senior Services and was told they’d need to separate, so that they’d each have their own Income levels. Then they would be eligible for state medicaid. But because they owned their home, the state would put like a lean on it after they both passed. The state would take any monies that they paid out in caring for them, from the estate. If they paid for me or anyone to care for them that would also come out of estate. So the other option was no help…no pay! I’ve given my life with no pay caring for them since 2015. Which also means my social security isn’t being paid into and I’m pushing 60.
This has got to Change for us caregivers!
THE LACK OF SELF CARE
Self care is another huge issue. Who has time to think about themselves? You’re wrapped up 24/7. I already had diabetes, but under control with medications as well as Fibromyalgia. I also have had 3 back surgery’s and the last one they placed a rod and 4 screws In my lower back. I struggled every day with my back especially having to lift my parents when they’d fall. This year I decided I needed to care more for myself cause I was having more issues. Come to find out my diabetes is back with a vengeance and has caused me to have Polyneuropathy, affecting my nerves. I have uncontrolled high blood pressure. I have social anxiety and depression. This is due to me not seeking help by friends or relatives and seeking “me” time for self care. We are human and NOT super humans! Please ask for help or find ways to get respite care if possible. I have so many friends in the same situation. There has to be a solution out there someplace….the toll it takes on us mentally is awful. We feel abandoned by everyone!
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