Back in May, I began working as a caregiver for the elderly mother of my cousin’s wife, whom I also call cousin. I have no training as a caregiver; it wasn’t a career choice for me. It was a situation where there were two needs (me needing to make some money and my cousin desperately needing someone to care for her mother) and we were able to help each other out. The job started as two days a week during the day. With my Hubby losing his job, it now looks like I’m getting four days a week, still during the day. It’s a very sweet, wonderful thing she is doing for me, getting me those extra hours. Yes, it’s only eight dollars an hour but it’s better than nothing, which is one reason I’m doing it.
I had met the lady only a couple of times before I started going to her house and sitting with her. I understand the awkwardness of having an almost complete stranger coming into your home and having them rummage through your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom as they wait on you throughout the day. I would absolutely hate it. I try very hard to put myself in her situation. I’m so weird about people touching my things and violating my privacy and personal space anyway, I couldn’t imagine hiring someone to come in and do it. She has caregivers with her 24/7. She never has a moment of privacy. Even when she is using the commode, I am still standing outside the open door waiting for her to let me know she’s done so I can hold her steady while she pulls up her drawers.
For someone who needs 24/7 care, she is pretty easy to take care of. I am responsible for getting her medications and breathing treatments at the right time (I set the alarm on my Blackberry so I don’t forget). I help her get up out of her chair while having her walker ready so we can zip to the commode. She doesn’t need any help with her bathroom “stuff” other than me making sure she doesn’t fall (thank goodness). I warm up her coffee in the morning (many, many times – she likes her coffee very hot), prepare her lunch and whatever snacks she wants throughout the day. The last hour of my time there, I wash and put away our dirty dishes, and clean her kitchen, commode and bathroom, which takes no more than forty-five minutes to complete. The rest of those eight hours, I’m sitting on her couch watching her ABC shows with her in the morning and her TNT shows in the afternoon, or reading my Kindle.
We chat quite a bit. She is really quite sharp mentally, however she can be forgetful and she knows when she is being forgetful. She is very self-conscious of it and at times it makes her cry. I have no degree in psychology but again, I try to put myself in her shoes and try to say the right things. I tell her it’s no big deal that she forgets things, that I forget things all the time. She knows I set the alarm on my Blackberry for all her different medications and treatments, and I let her know I would forget if I didn’t have my alarm. When she remembers something, like a date or the channel a certain show is on, I praise her and point out that she remembered something. I make an effort to not treat her like she’s a child because she certainly is not. If there is a commercial with a baby, toddler, or animal on it, she loves it. She thinks it’s the cutest thing ever. We watch the T.V. show Las Vegas together and during the opening credits, I dance like an idiot to the Elvis song they play. I think, at first, she was a little shocked by my general dorkiness but now I notice her smiling and wiggling her feet in time to the song as well. I consider that a victory.
I really do enjoy my time with my “old” friend. She can swear like a sailor and has some semi-raunchy sayings that really crack me up. She weighs all of one hundred and seven pounds, she has white hair and she hunches over. She has a tiny, squeaky, adorable little voice. She is your quintessential old lady and she amuses the crap out of me. I think she likes me well enough too, which makes me glad. I’m happy that instead of sticking her in a nursing home, she is able to stay at home and watch her own T.V. and sleep in her own bed. I know what her daughter has gone through to make sure her mom gets to stay at home. When the time comes, I hope I am able to provide the same level of comfort for my mom. Growing old appears to really suck. I guess the level of suckiness depends on what your kids are willing to do for you.