I was a teenager when we moved away. We had moved out-of-state for my father’s job, a wonderful opportunity but a difficult decision to leave my aging grandparents. Although we visited as often as possible, it was one Christmas (just four months after our normal Summertime visit) when we realized the changes in my grandparents. Forgetfulness and a few spells where my grandmother completely forgot who we were. Identifying me as my mother years ago, telling me I needed to finish my school work before I was “allowed outside to play with that dog Piper” (my mother’s childhood dog that passed away when she was 14.) We noticed the house was not as well-kept as we were used to seeing (another change from the meticulous manner they were known for) My grandmother’s hair was greasy and her clothes were wrinkled. My grandfather was getting around slower and it was obvious that he needed a little help. However, asking for help is not something they were accustomed to.
After much convincing and discussion amongst our family, we decided to seek assistance for my grandparents. My grandmother was in the early stages of Dementia and my grandfather just didn’t have the stamina that he had held for the past 40 plus years in caring for his wife and everything around them. Both were still quite independent and we knew they still had a lot of time left to enjoy gardening, taking walks and to have dinner each night, all while remaining in the home they had loved living in for so many years.
I would like to say that the first caregiver brought in to their home worked perfectly and end it there. Unfortunately that was not the case. We hired a company to come in three times a week to help prepare meals, assist with showering, take them on walks and help with some light housekeeping and laundry around the house. Given that we lived out-of-state, we put full trust in those who we were bringing in to their home. It was difficult to get regular reports, we experienced theft and caregivers who were brining over their family members for meals. (unfortunately my grandparents were quite trustful and susceptible) It was a nightmare! Not knowing what to do next, the company was terminated, my mother took a leave of absence from her job and packed up my sister and I for the summer to take care of her parents. This was a huge strain on her marriage and her job, but she was left with limited options.
After a referral from a close family friend, we decided to give HomeCare one more chance. It was so important that my grandparents remained in their home. It was then that I saw the difference that HomeCare could make. My grandparents were able to enjoy life where they wanted to be…at HOME! My grandfather was able to tend to his garden and enjoyed the company of a new friend. I still remember that caregiver thanking us for the knowledge of gardending and “the tips” my grandfather shared with him. We finally had someone in the home who understood dementia and had the patience to care for my grandmother. This support was so helpful to my grandfather, as he too still wanted to care for his wife. Although it was difficult to be so far away, we finally had confidence and comfort in the care they were receiving.