I muttered about this post the other day after a time consuming and unsuccessful afternoon. On reflection, that was the best start for this because caring takes time.
When Grandma arrived over four years ago, I had no idea how much time would be involved. Probably a good thing. It is right for her to be here but I would have gulped at the thought of the time. What is more, I don't do much caring. Many people do much, much more.
I don't have to get up at night (children excepted), do personal care nor feed. Many, many people have to do these things and more. I've still got time and energy to blog. I don't have to watch a wanderer. But, even so, caring takes time.
Why, well, it varies but another person in any household takes time. They need to be looked after, talked to and have food and clean laundry but an older person isn't like another child.
An elder who lives with a family is likely to have health needs and may well not be able to arrange appointments, medication and tests for themselves. They are likely to need an advocate and this takes time. They are unlikely to be able to manage to get themselves to appointments or arrange collection of medication. Also true for children but the legal status of adults is different. No one will see a six year old on their own and leave you guessing whether they were given another appointment or not. Can happen with adults especially those on the cusp of being able to decide for themselves but who can be a bit fuzzy around the edges (perhaps more in another post). What happens when the older person is holding a blood test form but has an infection, gets a bit confused and can't find the form? Sorting it out takes time-sometimes the answer is to keep the forms somewhere else, sometimes it isn't.
They can't rush. I'm the sort of person who believes in arriving at appointments with 15 seconds to spare-not late, of course! In order to achieve this, it is necessary to be able to hotfoot down the road on occasion, sometimes with buggy. One year olds find this terribly exciting but I wouldn't suggest trying this with Granny in a wheelchair. The consequences are not quite the same. The other prerequisite of arriving just on time is a slightly blasé attitude to being late:
"By 1130, they will definitely be running at least a few minutes late".
True but not kind to someone who has never been late. So a bit of organisation is in order. It wasn't an easy lesson for me.
As people become frailer, it may not be possible to leave them for long. Can they get a meal-probably not, otherwise they might well be living alone. A slow cooker can help if this is the only issue. Are they prone to falls? Yes, of course, this needs to be looked at medically but it may mean that impromptu day trips for all the rest of the family are out. Not a disaster, but can need careful planning to make sure that children still get outings.
I'm not writing this to put anyone off caring for an older relative. We are convinced that this is the right course for us at present and also know that there have been many benefits but it does take time and can mean that there are other things that can't be done.