When a Family Caregiver Needs Sick Time…


Do family caregivers get sick time?  That has been my internal question this past week as I tried to do everything while feeling under the weather.  I was hit hard and fast with the bug that is going through my community this week.  At first it was just a sore throat and I thought I was getting a sinus infection.

I went to visit dad last Sunday anyway, because I don’t usually think of my sinus problems as contagious as other things like colds and flu.  (Maybe I fool myself, but did didn’t catch it so we were both lucky.)

Monday I went to my community class as scheduled though I probably should have stayed home.  I enjoyed it but by the time I was back home it was clear that I had a bad head cold.  Later it continued to worsen and soon was in my chest.

I called dad on Tuesday and told him I wouldn’t be able to see him until at least Thursday as I had a bad cold and didn’t want to bring it to him.  I was relieved when dad answered the phone as so often he doesn’t.  He seemed to understand and I went back to bed.  In fact, I spent most of Tuesday fast asleep and I think it helped a lot.

Still, Thursday morning I was still suffering from the chest cold I now had and I knew I shouldn’t bring it out to community activities or to visit dad.  Somehow I managed to run into the store for my prescription renewal and into the assisted living facility (ALF) for just 10 minutes to ask about dad’s medications and to tell him that I couldn’t stay because of my cold.

Poor dad didn’t look like he totally understood why I was leaving but he did accept that I would come back to see him on Sunday.  I have been improving a little bit each day since Tuesday and I hope by Sunday I won’t feel like a walking germ factory spewing toxic diseases.

During my brief pass through at dad’s ALF, I learned that the former medication aide was no longer ordering medications.  Apparently she messed up with more than just my dad’s medications and was replaced by a new person – though perhaps just for this task. (See “Medication Management  Mix-up — Again…”   )

I am pretty sure it was my complaint that set the scene for more careful monitoring of this aide, though I believe she was not the only one to blame with the medication problems that occurred.  In the end I put the blame on the administration of the ALF including this aide but also the nurse who supervised her as well as the mail order prescription company.

In any case, I am pleased that the ALF now seems to take medication ordering more seriously and is on top of the issue for all their residents.  I hope this means there will be no more future problems. I was actually there to remind them that I had gotten an email reminder that one of dad’s medications needs refilling.  Since the new person was not working today, I am not yet assured that all is well.  I hope to monitor the situation and make sure the refill prescription arrives on time.

In the meantime, I came home to rest and recuperate.  I called my friends to say that I would not be at the clubhouse for our weekly card game.  I don’t want to expose them to anything any more than I wanted to expose dad.  I hope by the weekend I don’t feel as much like I am still contagious.

All this week while I have been fighting my illness, I still have been trying to keep up with the other family caregiving chores.  I had to call dad’s financial institution to transfer some funds.  “Oh!” the membership services assistant said: “This account is marked  dormant because your father is deceased.”

“Deceased?”  I responded.  “No, my dad is just fine.  Mom died almost 3 years ago, but dad is still here.”   I was put on hold while she tried to straighten out the situation.  I sat there listening to music and wondering if I would be able to resurrect my dad in their system.  I really should use all his accounts regularly just to keep them active.  But who has time to do extra tasks like that?

Finally the woman returned.  Everything was straightened out.  She found the notations from when they marked that mom was deceased.  She removed the “flag” on the account that stated it belonged to a deceased person.  Thankfully I was back in business.

Every time something like this happens, I am reminded how fragile my whole system is.  I get thrown for a loop if one part doesn’t work.  It could take days or weeks to straighten things out as happened three years ago when one bank refused to honor my power of attorney until I got the lawyer involved. This was time-consuming and expensive.  Now I try to keep everything functioning smoothly by using mainly the financial institutions that are easiest to work with by phone and online.

So for now, life is almost back on an even keel.  I will stay home and recuperate a few more days before visiting dad again on Sunday.  I hope by then all vestiges of my cough are gone and I won’t have to worry about what I am exposing dad to.

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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.
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12 Responses to When a Family Caregiver Needs Sick Time…

  1. Ellen Reaves says:

    This was really your body telling you to slow down! So often, without extra caregiving responsibilities, we run ourselves ragged for our family, community and others. We do not value our rest, sleep or own personal space. Take time each week for yourself. Put yourself first for a change!

    • Thanks, Ellen, Actually that is only partly true as this year I cut back from visiting dad almost every day to seeing him 3 to 4 days per week. I added an activity I had been wanting to do for a long time when I signed up for a class affiliated with a local college. It only meets one day a week but helps me keep myself intellectually active and I value the whole process.

      Yet, it is true that I keep going and going without enough rest because I don’t want to miss any time with dad nor do I want to miss my other activities. I have enjoyed taking this week as a mostly sick week and just being lazy around the house. I need to do this more often!

  2. Terry says:

    I have thought about that question too. Thankfully now that Al is in Hospice care he can to to the hospice house when or if I get sick

    • Yes, we need to remember to take care of ourselves. I feel pressure to visit dad even when I am sick but thankfully there is a staff to care for dad if I can’t get there. Sometimes it is a matter of giving ourselves a break, because the greatest pressures are self-induced.

  3. jmgoyder says:

    I know what you mean. I have been going in nearly every day to see Anthony and today I feel quite under the weather. Unbelievable about the meds mixup and the other mixup. Get well, my friend.

  4. Janet Yano says:

    Hope you feel better soon and glad to hear you are taking a class for yourself. It’s a balancing act caring for a parent and ourselves. You see to be doing it better than most people.

    • Thanks. It IS a balancing act and my ability to keep my balance changes over time with the pressures of life. I did finally decide to see my doctor today and now have medications which should help me mend a bit sooner. I just wanted to be sure I could visit dad without risk to his health and now I can.

  5. boomer98053 says:

    OMG. The problem with every industry out there – assisted living facilities, banks, etc., is that they are run by humans who are far from perfect. As my dad used to say when something went wrong and us family members got exasperated, “It’s too bad no one else is as perfect as we are” which of course he said facetiously.
    I’m glad that your complaint at your dad’s ALF made a difference; your dad benefits as does everyone else living there. Blessings to you.

    • Thanks, Irene. I don’t really know what happened to take this aide off the medication ordering task, but I am glad they made the change. It has been awhile since my dad ran out of medications and even since the state investigated, so I am guessing there was another incident that was similar. I hope they continue to be alert to problems and respond as necessary.

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