Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Well, as I left it last week you may recall I was a bit distraught after learning that my mom's new private aide, Sheri, had indicated she needed a job with more hours.  Of course, I kind of panicked because we have just settled into a nice routine after her caring for my mom for the past three months.  My mom has been doing much better and no real tragedies for a couple months. 
     What I didn't mention is that I learned of all of this the day before I was leaving for a last minute week long vacation with my family (we planned it in ten days because we just couldn't take this extra crazy Michigan snow)!  First, I confirmed by phone with Sheri that she was in fact still interested in doing some evening hours.  I passed the message on by voicemail to my mom's case manager while I was away.  The case manager also left me a message that she had given the information to the Med Team.
      Yesterday, while I was on my way home, Sheri called me to say her employer had, in fact, offered her more hours.  However. what they offered her was 9pm-12am.  Although those hours would be pretty good from my perspective, I knew that would not work for Sheri as she would still be required to be back with my mom at 8am.  On a good day she would get home at 12:30am and get up at 6:30am to leave at maybe 7:30am.  Sheri and I both think that's a bit much.
      Sheri and I are hoping we can make something more like 7-10pm work.  I am, however, hopeful and impressed by the fact that they actually approached Sheri and remain hopeful we can work something out.  My only real reservation at this time is that my mom has never been a 10pm bed time kind of person, but if we can get her into this consistent routine she would be better off (and we would keep Sheri).
     In the meantime,  I have also been assured by my mom's care manager that even if Sheri did leave (I don't want her to), I would get another private aide.  Knowing that helps a bit.  I believe the only reason I was given a private aide in the first place is because of all the problems I reported to them and the fact that they know I am involved in my mom's care.  So, at least in that regard my diligence paid off.  
     I proclaimed my brother and Sheri as being "in charge" while I was gone.  I still worry about my mom any time I go away.  Thankfully, between Sheri and my brother visiting my mom a couple of times, it appears all was well and that is a big relief.

My Brother Visited Twice and Brought
an Icee Drink and His Dog
     Hopefully by next week I will know if we can work something out in getting Sheri some more hours and keeping her with my mom.


Monday Memories With My Mom

A Daughter's Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     As you may recall from last week's post, all was relatively quiet with regard to my mom, and I appreciate all of you who have been celebrating this calm with me.
     I visited with her for about an hour and a half last Wednesday.  It happened to be while Sheri was there.  I was stocking my mom up on miscellaneous supplies and a couple new shirts and a pair of pants.  I like that she is there to see what I am bringing in and then she also knows where things are.  I also think it's important that I occasionally spend time with her, give her some insights into my mom's life and her care and needs, and also just generally see how their relationship is going.  At this point, though, Sheri gets it.  She has spent virtually 7 days a week, 3 plus hours per day with her for about three months now. When you do that, you pretty much start to get the full picture.  She also said my mom was "crabby" today.  She did not want to go to exercise class.  When I asked her, she still did not want to go (sometimes she says yes to me).  I think when she's like that she is tired -- or sometimes just crabby!!
     Fast forward to when I left from my visit...and at that point I was just trying to remain calm and breathe....  
     Through my phone conversations with Sheri and occasional visits I have learned a bit about her.  I always ask her how she is doing, not just my mom.  I learned she recently moved into another apartment.  She was located within walking distance of my mom's senior apartments.  Now, she has moved to a location fairly close to where I live.  Probably a good 30 minute drive to my mom's during rush hour traffic.  I know she lives alone.  I also know she has a daughter and a grandson who is 3 years old.  I believe her father lives in Georgia.  When I have thanked her for taking care of my mom she has said, "I just take care of her the way I would want someone to take care of my mom". 
     I asked her if she has heard anything from anyone about possibly getting more hours (to work) either with my mom or from her employer.  She said no.  Then she said, I don't want to leave Mary, but I have an interview tomorrow.  She said it was for more money.  She also said they don't pay "nothing" here.  She told me the hourly wage of the job she is interviewing for.   I am guessing she currently makes a bit more than minimum wage.  I told her I would hate to lose her.  Yet, I understand she has to support herself and if you do the math 3.5 hours per day seven days a week at her hourly wage is not enough to easily live on.
     I immediately started calculating in my head how much it would take to supplement her current wage and realized even with an extra $10-$20 per day I would go broke quickly.  Or, my kids would not go to college.  This frustrates me to no end.  Why are caregivers, nurses, teachers, child care workers some of our lowest paid people???  They perform such significant and critical services.
        It also appears that the other staff does not treat Sheri very well.  I am assuming it is because they know she was brought in to do a job that they were not fulfilling.  They do not share information with her about my mom or much of anything else.  Ugh!! 
       As soon as I got home I put a call in to my Area Agency on Aging case manager.  The one who works on site at my mom's apartment complex.  I wanted to tell her that I am afraid of losing my mom's private aide and that I don't understand why the facility can't give her more hours or pay.  Clearly, she has proven she is reliable and does a good job.  I would hope that after she cares for my mom she could go out on the floor and provide some of the tasks that the other Med Team workers perform.  I am quite confident that she is at least as capable if not more so.  I realize it may not be that simple, but really it seems like common sense to me.  They've worked this hard to find someone for me and then they're just going to let her slip away?  She returned my call and after speaking at length about it, I learned it is more complicated than that.  However, she told me first to confirm with Sheri that she would be interested in working for my mom at night and then she would see what she could do.    
The Newsletter From Her Cousin -- She Loves to Read/Look at the Pictures

Some Surprise Mail From My Friend - Much Appreciated

Chillin' With Mom and Sheri
(Please Don't Go...)

Things Are So Orderly...

and Calm When She is Here...

So We Watched "Channel 4" and I Tried to Remain Calm...

     Next up, I will be calling Sheri.  I have to admit, though, that I realize if she works mornings and nights for my mom seven days a week -- she will burn out really fast.  It's not for the faint hearted and requires so much patience...  But I will ask and report back.  At the same time, I know Sheri deserves more and needs to worry about herself first.  Obviously, I am fearful of going backwards to inferior care for my mom. 
    The whole thing is upsetting to me, yet I have a feeling this is how it's gonna go.  Lots of turnover in these jobs. 



Monday Memories With My Mom*

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
(*Posted Tuesday...)
     Things have remained fairly quiet with regard to my mom.  Of course, I am grateful for that, but I have to admit when you kind of live on pins and needles between "Med Team" phone calls even too much quiet can be a bit unsettling.
     On one of the rare recent sunny but freezing days, I headed over to drop off some things to my mom.  Lately it seems I plan my trips to visit her more around the weather than convenience or necessity.

     I realized I would be arriving around her lunch time, but decided that would give me an opportunity to snoop around her apartment a bit which I haven't been able to do in awhile.  First, when I arrived I did my traditional "peeking" from the balcony to see that my mom was at lunch.  I also learned that her cream sweater must have somehow made it back to her.  That was one of her "MIA" items from the laundry.  (By the way, notice how she isn't sitting all the way back in her chair or tucked in towards the table!?  Drives me nuts and no wonder she falls or tries to leave sometimes.  The chairs are on wheels so it's not difficult.)
     With my mom's aide Sherri around, I quickly realized that all of the "cleaning up" I normally have to do she had pretty much already taken care of.  The clutter is being kept to a minimum.  I thought I would wait in my mom's apartment for her to return from lunch so I took the opportunity to read the senior newsletter.  I also left a few treats as a surprise for her!!  As time went by, my mom did not return from lunch so I went to investigate.
     Ahhhhh....that is when I realized why she had not yet made it back.  There was "the Don" who had found his way to my mom's table which is interesting since he eats at a different lunch seating than my mom.  I don't do this often, but I was pressed for time and decided to let her finish her lunch and visit with Don.  I knew if I went down there it would disrupt them.  So, I just left but felt a bit guilty about it.
     Then, on Sunday evening just as we were getting ready to go out to dinner to celebrate my husband's birthday I saw a "Med Team" call displayed on my cell phone.  I held my breath and answered.  It turns out one of the staff was calling to let me know they had found my mom on the third floor of the building earlier in the day (she lives on the first) and that she had fallen.  They said it had happened around 3pm (so a few hours earlier).  They said she was ok and they helped her up and back to her apartment.  I would say she rarely gets to the 3rd floor.  Don used to live on the second floor but now lives on the first.  I am imagining she got off the elevator at the wrong floor, got disoriented, dropped something, and fell when she went to pick it up.  In fact, I am guessing at least half of my mom's falls are from her picking something up off the floor.  What's a girl to do?
     Sheri also called me on Monday to let me know of some personal supplies my mom was running low on.  I plan to make a visit tomorrow and stock her up.  Here are the boxes of supplies I receive each month.  I wish I could have them sent to my mom directly, but unfortunately I have to stagger my deliveries so that she does not over use these items.  That said, I am grateful to receive the supplies and for the relative calm we've been experiencing.


Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Let the record show...this is a current update!!  Thanks to everyone who hung in there with me getting caught up on my mom's adventures over the last two months! 
     Thankfully, the week was fairly quiet.  Our weather here in Michigan has kept me from making visits more than once a week lately, between "snow days" and record temperatures.  It helps to know that Sheri is there, she has my phone number, and if anything was out of sorts I trust that she would call me. 
     When I did stop by last week, this is what I found...
     She was taking a nap (in her bed!) after lunch.  It was very tempting to let her sleep as she did not hear me come in, but then I wanted to visit with her and see how she was.  She seemed pretty good, and I was grateful for that. 
     I also found this note on her wall.  I did not know it, but perhaps Sheri was sick for a day as it appears someone else took care of my mom one morning.  It was nice to see that someone actually left a note (very rare) and that they had no problem with my mom.  These "private" aides who work for the same company seem to be much better quality than the on site staff.  I am sure there are reasons for this, some of which I can only guess at.  Perhaps on site staff is overworked, underpaid, not properly trained, etc...  Regardless, I hope it gets fixed!!  
     I was also able to get my mom's Medicaid "Redetermination" in the mail.  It was due at the Department of Human Services offices today.  As I've said before, it's a lot of work putting together and a big relief that I got it done.  Now, we just wait for a response that will likely either say "approved" or ask for more information. 
     I do have some appointments to make for my mom.  I need to get her hair done, a dental appointment and a mammogram among other things.  However, I am wating to make sure we are done with all of our polar vortexes and record snows!!  We are supposed to get hit with something again on Wednesday, so I will venture for a visit with my mom today or tomorrow and keep you posted.
     How's that for a short, sweet, timely and uneventful update!!!??