In December 2016 my mom had an ischemic stroke that left her paralyzed on her right dominant side and unable to speak or eat food by mouth. She was 82 yrs old when this happened, was completely self-sufficient and independent, and took care of others (family members, etc.) until her stroke. This event has been life changing for not only her but for all of our family. Since then we all have worked together to make sure she is not only superbly cared for but that she has as much quality to her life as we can give. I resigned from my career as a Dental Hygienist to become her full-time caregiver. We stayed in SC until August 2017 when I was able to bring her home with me to TN. We are still under construction at our home and will be for a while trying to get modifications done to help in her daily care and functionality of our home. My siblings have been so supportive and even though we all live in different areas, we all chip in to take care of some aspect of my moms affairs.
This event has been eye-opening to me in that I have re-evaluated what is truly important and what is trivial. We have had to face many hurdles in this journey and I will be going over these hurdles and options in the hopes that the knowledge will help others who care for their loved ones or to help in the planning stages. As I said, this process has been eye-opening. I have learned that the best and most effective method for anything in life is planning for the unexpected and expecting anything.
I will be starting a Caregiver Series on the blog to share information and planning tips that I have learned along the way. It has taken a long time (longer than is necessary) to search out these tips and steps. I have stumbled many times and have had to search out resources and individuals who know how to get from point A to B. So, I would like to share those with y’all. This process could help anyone and is not limited to only those who have suffered debilitating illness. This information can help everyone who believe its important to plan for a seamless future of care for themselves or loved ones. Who will care for you, and what steps and hoops will they have to take and jump through? The best course is to plan this out so that you are prepared.
I will begin this series this month (November 2017) and create a post once a month. I’m not going to pin down a certain date because I don’t want to restrict myself or give a deadline to information that I feel is so important. I like to have all my information correct before I try to relate that to others. As I create these topics and plan, I will be able to better let you know post subjects and dates. As caregiver is a new position for me (just since April 14th, 2017 full-time) I will be learning along with all of you on some of the information I research and share. This is always thrilling for me because I value education so fiercely. As a Dental Hygienist I loved continuing education, learning from my co-workers and patients.
The biggest education in this endeavor has been learning from my mom, through her expressions and actions, what she feels are good techniques in her daily care. We have, together, created our own balance which I feel is essential in any relationship. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned and continue to learn. As I have come to realize through experience of interviewing and working with other caregivers, there is unfortunately no hard and fast rules on this profession. Generally, you are shown (I use the term loosely) how to use any equipment you will be working with and you are left to your own devices. I have even found this to be true with Companies I have hired and they sent “qualified” caregivers. Most did not know how to properly take care of someone who could not take care of themselves. Most wanted to sit and play on their phones and just exist like a fly on the wall taking up space and getting $20/hr. I also had to train them on how I wanted mom taken care of when I couldn’t be there, due to doctor appointments or grocery shopping, etc. and this was not even my profession but theirs. I was appalled to learn that the applicants word that they know what to do was what most companies went by when hiring…WHAT???? See why I believe this is an important topic?
Anyway, so I will be working on what to cover first. Anyone going through something similar with advice or questions or topics you would specifically like to see, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Like I always told my patients, if I don’t know the answer I will find out the answer so we’ll both know :^)
I pray this series will help in some way for anyone going through these struggles too.
Until next time…xoxo Dawn.