Companions as a Support System for the Caregiver


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.

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About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Caregiving, Companion, Dementia, Elder Care, Eldercare and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Companions as a Support System for the Caregiver

  1. I’ve started building a similar support system and it has made me worry so much less just this week knowing we’ve got a team and it’s not just me checking in on Mom and stepdad and keeping up with what we need to do next. Sounds like you’ve got the perfect team in place.

    • Yes, it takes some of the pressure off knowing there are other people I can rely on to do the things I would otherwise have to do. It took some time to build up my team but this is the second year I am working with them, so it has been much easier. Good luck with your team!

  2. That’s wonderful! I’m so glad you are giving yourself this gift.

  3. jmgoyder says:

    I hadn’t realized until this post that the companions were paid. Thank you for giving me a wonderful idea! And I hope the one who was in the accident recovers soon.

    • Thanks, Julie. I am praying for her to totally recover too. Yes, here one can get a home companion through a home health agency. They are less expensive than a nurse and insurance generally won’t pay for them. But they can make or bring a lunch or even do light housekeeping. I didn’t get mine through an agency but I have gotten brochures from agencies about all the things your home health aide/companion can do for you including driving the client to appointments or getting groceries or just playing cards in the afternoon to keep the client company.

  4. rvelin says:

    Great site! We at MindMattersMD appreciate your efforts and hope you don’t mind, but we would like to refer some of our MindMattersMD.wordpress.com readers to your site. Isolation is such an obstacle to overcome, and sites like yours help decrease that obstacle. Thanks for your contribution.

  5. boomer98053 says:

    I can not say enough about the importance of having a support system. Yours appears to be working. Like I said in my article, Caregiving: The Ultimate Team Sport, http://babyboomersandmore.com/2011/10/15/caregiving-the-ultimate-team-sport/ you’ve got to have a team to have a successful outcome.

  6. Pingback: Companions Are Like Family | Let's Talk About Family

  7. Pingback: Planning for my Winter Vacation | Let's Talk About Family

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