It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. It’s crazy sometimes! Other times, I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster. My job? I care for my elderly mother who has dementia. And for six years, Mom has been able to live at home.
In 2009 I moved from my home in the Ottawa area to Oakville, where I bought a condo in the same building as my mother. The idea was that I would be handy to help her out if, or when, necessary. And gradually, I began to take care of my beloved mother, a little more, and then a little more again, until I realized Mom needed more help than I could provide all by myself.
I contacted iCare Home Health for help. Care Director, Rick, visited us for a free assessment upon which we put together a Care Plan that we both agreed would serve mom’s needs at the time. The plan was a foundation for several changes as the needs changed over time. iCare Home Health put together a fabulous team of caregivers that matched Mom’s needs and wants.
I know that others have similar challenges caring for their loved ones, so, I started my own caringformama.com blog to help others wherever possible. Here are some lessons to share from my initial experience:
Lesson One: don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for an elderly person.
Lesson Two: learning how to work as a team with the other caregivers, so the care you provide is seamless and excellent. Good communication is the key. I made the effort to get to know all Mom’s caregivers and realized that each one brought different gifts to my mother. Kelly brought her humour and common sense. Delia brought an incredible attention to detail. Jan brought delicious pancakes for my mother’s breakfast every Saturday and her thoughtfulness has blessed Mom countless times. Carol brought simplicity and a relaxed temperament. Mom thrived under Kim’s generosity of spirit. And Rosie brought Mom a ton of love.
Lesson Three: came harder to me. I had to learn to pace myself so that I wouldn’t burn out. Living just one floor down from my mother made it all too easy to pop in for visits several times a day. I had to learn to give myself true breaks from all the caregiving I was doing. Otherwise, I would become cranky and prone to caregiver burnout. Don’t kid yourselves: burnout is always lurking behind a caregiver.
Lesson Four: was even harder for me. I had to learn not to let the details – the minutia – of caregiving to get in the way of my love for my mother. Because caring for an elderly person is the most loving thing anyone can do. I treasure the special times I’ve had with my mother. I know our time together is limited and I try to make the most out of every second. If you can do that, all the other pieces will fall into place.