Last time I wrote about how dad’s companions were able to learn things about him that I never knew. The nurse emailed me after her last visit that she thought dad was stuffed up and might be coming down with a cold. She had notified the ALF staff nurse of this fact, which I appreciated very much.
When my son and grandson visited dad on Sunday, sure enough, dad had a cold. My son and grandson didn’t sit to close, hoping to avoid catching that cold. It had been a few weeks since my grandson accompanied my son on these visits as the 3-year-old found it boring without me being there with my iPad! I think the terrible weather also served to deter my son from bringing his little one along.
One of the companions didn’t get in touch with me as quickly as the others last week. I know she isn’t as much of a computer user as the others, so I just waited to hear from her. It turned out that the poor lady had been in an automobile accident. She missed almost a full week of work and so had not visited dad until the weekend.
I felt very bad for her as an accident always sounds scary to me. And the fact that she was forced to miss work meant that she suffered some kind of injuries as well. Even though she is back working now, she is walking more slowly, she said.
This reminded me of why I had 3 companions instead of just one coming several times a week. Having 3 companions gives me redundancy so that if anything happens to one of them, the other two would still be available to visit dad each week.
In addition, the 3 companions have different skill sets. The retired nurse is the first one I call in the event of a medical issue such as a bug that is going through the ALF. The other two both have lots of experience as companions to the elderly though one specializes in Alzheimer’s disease. Both tend to clients who are in independent living facilities as well as assisted living and even nursing homes. They all give a client the one to one attention that no one gets from the medical staff except for direct medical care.
I pay the companions monthly and enjoy reading about what they have been doing with dad each week. I do talk to dad on the telephone regularly, but I still have trouble getting him to keep a conversation going longer than 3 minutes! Thus the companions fill in the gaps in my knowledge and keep me assured that dad is all right.
Since the companions are able to bring out skills in dad that I didn’t know he had – like the card playing – I wonder if I should try to retain one or two even after I am home. It is an extra expense and as the weather improves, dad will be going on more outings with his ALF. I think instead, I will see if the companions can come again for a couple of weeks in the summer so I can do some traveling.
Last year I didn’t make any plans to travel to visit family or friends, other than my annual vacation to escape the snow. This year I plan to take a one to two-week trip, and maybe two such trips, to see family members and friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. So long as dad stays well, I want to do more of the things I planned to do upon retirement. The companions can give dad the continuity of care while I am gone.
The summer trips would be much closer to home and thus it would be easier for me to return in a hurry if anything happened to dad. I have decided it is time to return my life to as much normalcy as possible while still caring for dad. Ever since I retired, I have been doing much more eldercare and much less of everything else than I had anticipated.
Now that I have these companions that I know and trust, I decided I should use them for more than just my winter vacation. Building this support system is helping me to reduce the added stress in my life.