When you’re caring for a senior, nothing else matters. Whether it’s the advice of friends, family, or even professionals, if her circumstance dictates a particular kind of care, that’s the final arbiter — at least, that’s how caregiving felt to me. While professionals mean well, they don’t usually know your loved one as well as you do, and there’s never a reason to tolerate rude or condescending professionals — or offensive or culturally insensitive home aides. Your mileage may vary, but, in your own way, there always comes a time when you have to think outside the box to get the best outcome for your loved one.
Caring for My Grandmother
I come from a three-generation family, so for me, caregiving started with my grandmother. Because it seemed that I was the only one who could get through to her at times, it was natural that I provided care when possible. We didn’t admit her to a nursing home; instead, we relied on many wonderful home care aides during the day, and my personal care overnight. At the time, I ran two businesses and was on leave as an international flight attendant, so I did most of my career-based work on the computer while I cared for my grandmother at night. On the few occasions when TWA denied leave of absence extensions or paid time off, I paid other flight attendants to fly my trips. Occasionally, I would fly a trip as a sort of mental vacation.
Fighting for My Mother
There were two times during which my mother required year-long caregiving for serious injuries. The first time, she and my father were both immobilized by a near-fatal car accident. A few years later, Mom shattered her ankle and lower leg. Her primary care physician recommended rehab, but my mother was adamant about not going. The family decided she should come home. After an argument with her primary doctor, and another with a social worker, I was able to work out a scheduled visit. When the social worker arrived and met my mother, she thought she must be visiting the wrong patient. Her chart said the patient was 80 years old, and she couldn’t believe my mother’s youthful appearance. We went through the house looking for danger spots, and she couldn’t find any. Finally, she agreed to send a physical therapist, allowing my mother to stay.
Finding Help for My Father
The final months of my father’s life were spent in and out of the hospital. With each admission, I redlined waivers over the objections of the admitting staff. One time, a social worker called and told me to come pick up my father, who would require especially safe transportation because he was using a catheter. I called one of his long-time specialists and told him I needed assistance. He called the social worker, and Dad was transported by ambulance.
When you think outside the box, there may be times when you feel foolish or look impolite. I did, too. But for me, it was all about providing the best care for my loved ones. In the end, isn’t that what matters most of all?