In a moving piece at The Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch describes the enormous strain — both physical and psychological — he of being a family care giver:
In the early weeks, I was protective of his independence. He believed that confinement in a nursing home would kill him, and I understood that his autonomy was the thread by which his emotional health hung. But his motor control was not cooperating. By summer, he was having trouble getting out of bed. Many days, he relied on the maintenance man to dress him, or never managed to dress properly at all. On several occasions, I arrived in his apartment to find him lying on the floor, unable to get up. He was no longer able to manage his own mail or appointments. Often his slurred voice on the phone was barely intelligible. When I called, he would manage to pick up the phone but said only “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” before hanging up.
I came to dread the ring of the telephone: it might be my father on the floor, asking me to come over and pick him up, or it might be emergency medical services, summoned by a neighbor or the call button. Once, when I arrived amid a commotion of paramedics and flashing lights, a neighbor, herself elderly, was standing in the hallway, her face flushed with fear, yelling to me, “He can’t live here! You’ve got to move him!” In the midst of it all, my father would be entreating everyone to leave him be.
My professional work all but stopped. Finding doctors for him and getting him to appointments and coordinating escalating medical needs swallowed entire days. I managed until one hot July afternoon. I was at my desk closing a column when Michael called from Costco, where he had taken my father shopping. My father had gone stiff on one side, become incoherent and unable to stand, and didn’t know where he was. I had to get over there, Michael said, in a quietly frightened voice. I jumped up and ran out, but by the time I arrived my father had recovered and did not remember anything untoward happening. “Do you need to see a doctor?” I asked, stupidly. He just gave a dismissive wave of his hand. “I’m okay,” he said. I stood there, in the produce aisle, with no idea what to do, frightened by my incompetence and, worse, furious at my father for putting me in this impossible position.
Even for families with resources, providing care for a loved one can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. This is one of the many places where home care can help. Home care agencies work with families to assess patient needs, develop plans of care, and negotiate the maze of care resources. They can also help emotionally resistant clients — like Rauch’s father — understand and accept services.
To find the right agency for your family, look no further than our Find An Agency search or Caregiver Resources page. These simple, easy-to-use pages allow you to search over 190 home care agencies in Massachusetts by geography and service and provide answers to the most common questions. Copies of our Guide to Private Care Services, are also available either for direct download or free hard-copy order.
Affordable, reliable help is just a few clicks away.
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.
Geriatric Care Managers (GCM) — These trained professionals can help assess needs, find resources, and monitor services. You can find a list of GCMs at www.gcmnewengland.org.
Massachusetts Aging Service Access Point (ASAP) network — ASAPs are publicly-funded, local agencies that provide information and referrals for a range of elder services. You can find the ASAP nearest you by calling (800) AGE-INFO or visiting www.800ageinfo.com.