Caregiving: So Much to Do…

Have you ever applied to a job you thought would be a good fit–even a breeze–only to be daunted by the long list of extensive job responsibilities that sounded like a month would be required to do that which was “daily” in the eyes of the employer? Of course, it could be that once you took the position (if you weren’t scared away), you find that everything is much easier and quicker than it sounds on paper (or online). Or, it could be that about 10 other responsibilities had been omitted from the list, and within a week you wish you had never seen the job notice.

You get the picture. How does this apply to caregiving? Only someone who hasn’t done it would ask the question, or need to. In the course of a visit with my mother while I supervised her care long distance, I found myself being an accountant, health-care administrator and/or advocate, volunteer coordinator, nurse’s aide, banker, telephone correspondent, housekeeper, shopper, transportation coordinator, personnel director, and on and on. That probably only scratches the surface, but I can’t think of more right now.

In the course of a week, I’d be paying the aides and sometimes struggling with them about doing their jobs, going to the bank to make deposits, dealing with the accountant, filling out forms for long-term-care insurance, buying food, trying to round out volunteers from a few different organizations and work out schedules, consulting with the care manager the long-term-care company had insisted on–whether it really added to my mother’s quality of life or not–e-mailing my mother’s internist with concerns. I wasn’t necessarily good at any of these things initially–I’m a writer, not an organizer–but it’s like being put on stage at the last minute without rehearsals and without knowing more than a few of the lines because you heard the main actor reciting them and being expected to put on a sterling performance.

What choice do you really have? There isn’t anyone else to do it, maybe, and the show must go on. Besides, if nothing else, you want your children to do for you what you are doing for your parent, and the only way to achieve that (with a dose of luck) is to model the behavior.