Thursday, March 18, 2010

BIG White Lies

I love the people I take care of, I really do. I enjoy being able to care for them, to try to anticipate their needs and to bring contentment as well as happiness to their lives. But caregiving, as with everything, comes with its share of challenges.
Lately I am feeling those challenges present themselves more strongly. Some days I almost feel a teensy bit overwhelmed, go figure. That means it's time to ask for help.
Grampa George has a PSW (personal support worker) come to the house one hour per week. She's absolutely lovely and he truly benefits from her weekly visits. Since I take care of Grampa George's personal needs, including helping him shower, choose clothes, keep his medications in order, handle all of his appointments, his meals and his daily routine, Glenda comes to keep him company. They share an hour of conversation over coffee during which Grampa George can share stories from the past or complain about how many pills I make him take every day. Glenda does her best to make him take a walk with her, laughs at his jokes and reminds him of how lucky he is to be able to be with family, unlike many other seniors. It's great therapy for him even though I can't seem to squeeze enough of my chores into that one hour to help me much.
Of course Glenda always asks about Nana and when I tell her, she asks me when I'm finally going to apply for some assistance with her increasing daily needs.
Nana's assessment by the Community Care Access Centre is Monday at 11:00. I still haven't told her about it, but will, some time before then. I can't just admit I need help with Nana's care, since that would feel, to her, that she's some kind of burden. I'll be telling her that since Grampa George is getting on in years, (he's a mere sixteen years her junior), he's going to need more help and have more appointments over time. When I'm at appointments or helping him, she'll have someone with her, to make sure nothing happens while I'm not there. In reality I hope Nana is eligible for more assistance than Grampa George is because I'm spending more and more time helping her re-set her still loose dentures in her mouth, cut up her food before she eats it and watch her take her pills instead of fumbling them under her place mat, than ever now. Her unsteady gait and poor balance have me running to catch her whenever she leaves her seat for fear that she'll fall. And the tear in the muscle in her shoulder have made the use of her right arm limited.
Even if it sounds selfish, I'm hoping getting help with Nana gives me a little 'me' time, because Glenda's right: we (my husband and I) don't have a life. Who knows, we might even be able to take a walk together again sometime soon.


  1. I've been reluctant to call the CCAC for the very same reasons as you. Maybe it's the right thing to do after all.

  2. Asking for help with Nana is not something you should feel guilty about. 24 hr care of a relative is indeed a bit more than most people can handle. Ask any caregiver who works at it for 8 hrs a day. That is more than enough. To have to do it around the clock is demanding and does take away from your own quality of life. Everyone deserves time for themselves. As a PSW myself, I know that you want to give til it hurts, but when you do that, then you are not going to be any help to anyone else.
    Take care of you and give up a bit to someone who can ease the load a bit. Good luck.