A lady that I spoke with last week told me a story that fits the typical profile. She and her siblings all worked and had a family of their own. Two of the siblings lived and worked out of state. All of the kids had their plate very full. The local child had done everything possible to help supplement care for Mom and Dad every available spare minute. Dad had Alzheimer’s and required a lot of care. Mom was sharp cognitively, but her physical health was failing. Both Mom and Daughter had a common goal – to keep Mom and Dad at home and out of the Nursing Home. So far, both of them managed to hold things together, but it took a LOT of work. The work was exhausting for Mom and Daughter.
Family Caregiver Guilt With The Nursing Home Option
It seemed that when she was not working or sleeping, Daughter was at Mom and Dad’s house. She knew that Mom and / or Dad may some day wind up in the Nursing Home, but she was doing everything within her power to honor their wish to remain home. Daughter felt very guilty about ignoring her husband and kids but loved her Mom and Dad and felt she owed it to them to do everything possible to help keep them at home.
Even though this plan was taking an emotional toll on Daughter and a physical toll on Mom, it worked for a long time. Then one day the unexpected happened – Mom fell and broke her hip. That day Mom and Dad’s Journey at home was over. Everything shifted from Mom & Dad being able to live at home, to Mom and Dad having to live in a Nursing Home. On that day, Daughter’s role also shifted from Family Caregiver to Advocate.
When the “Well” Spouse Declines, the Home Journey is Over
This is a typical journey. In the above scenario, Mom has assumed the responsibility of primary caregiver of Dad for too long. Her health was not the best and was declining. Despite her age and health, she was trying to provide care for her husband at home while managing her own care. Daughter was doing everything possible to supplement the care with every spare minute she had. When Mom broke her hip, everything suddenly changed. She was in the hospital for a week then transition to the nursing home for Rehab. That same week, Dad was also admitted to the nursing home.
This is a typical scenario. When something happens to one of the spouses, then Mom and Dad’s Home Journey sometimes collapses like a house of cards.
What Does YOUR Family Scenario Look Like?
Your family scenario may be different. Maybe your Mom and Dad’s health has declined to the point where it can no longer be properly managed at home. Or perhaps they have dementia that has progressed to the point where they need 24-hour supervision. If you are the sole caregiver, it is impossible for you to stay awake and alert 24 hours a day. If this is the case, just know that your role as a caregiver is not over, it just shifts to another role – that of ADVOCATE.
Your Role as Family Caregiver can Suddenly Shift to Advocate
An effective Advocate attends care plan meetings at the nursing home on behalf of their loved one and makes sure that the plan for Mom or Dad is properly implemented. They ask questions and follow up on caregiving.
Many people mistakenly think when Mom or Dad transition to a Nursing Home, their job is over. They think the only thing left for them to do is to occasionally visit Mom or Dad in the Nursing Home.
While technically your job as a Family Caregiver is over, your job as Advocate is just starting. The role of Advocate carries a lot of responsibility and you still have several things that you need to do to make sure your loved one gets proper care. Click here to download our Journey Stop #4 Checklist to see and understand some of the things that you need to do as an Advocate for your parent. Don’t leave your parents health and best care to chance. Take your role of Advocate seriously. Download this checklist and Implement some of these items for the benefit of your Loved One today.
You have been with your loved one more than anyone, and more than anyone else, you understand their needs. Being an effective Advocate is very important. Your Loved One can no longer speak up for themselves. Now it is up to you. Let your voice be heard.