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Posted: August 06, 2007

Practical Caregiving

What to Do When You Need Help Helping a Parent

Children helping their aging and often infirm parents takes many forms, as most of you know. And a very frequent theme involves keeping Mom or Dad at home, instead of in an institution. Most often, that's what our loved ones want too.
 
So, what happens when there are "forces" working against you? For example, when finances are a real issue? Or when a sibling thinks they have a better idea for caring for your parent? Frustrations certainly ensue, no matter what you do.
 
That's what Patsy in Little Rock and Donna in Amarillo are running into -- and that's why they contacted me, for my advice. Let's see what's happening with each of them:
_____
 
Dear Jean:
 
I am an only child with mild disabilities and have lived with my parents all my life. I am 49, and Dad died when I was 24. Mom and I have worked together to pay the house payments and other bills. I have been taking care of my mom full time the past 10 years but we had to make the decision for her to go into a nursing home after she fell and broke her hip. Her health is going downhill fast. The government programs are paying for her care, but I need to be there for her, and she needs me there.
 
I am looking for a job at home, but do not have one now. I have not worked full-time for 11 years. I really need to find a job so I can make the house payment and other payments now. I need to spend as much time as I can with Mom. I’m trying to get public assistance, but that is a nightmare. They treat me like a criminal.
 
I’m fighting depression. Mom’s being in a nursing home is terrible, and I miss her so much.
 
Do you have any suggestions? I just need to be pointed in the right direction.
 
Patsy G., Little Rock, Arkansas
 
Dear Patsy:
 
Please remember that -- first and foremost -- you need to make sure your mother gets good care. That does not mean you have to do it yourself. When you visit her, try to make her day a happier day because you visited her. I’m sure she looks forward to your visits as much as you do. 

As for a job, I don't know what you are qualified to do. If you sew, call various stores or dry cleaners to ask about alterations. If you do bookkeeping, call small businesses and ask about that type of assignment. If you can type, call your hospital to see if they have people that type reports from home.

Call places that you think can use what you can do and you might come up with something. Have you tried employment agencies like Manpower, or other agencies? They have part-time job openings as well as full-time openings. They also have temp-to-hire jobs where you work in a business for a certain length of time with the possibility of the assignment becoming permanent. If you don’t like it, you don't have to stay there forever.

What about the state employment agency in your state? They have a listing of available jobs. When you go to the state employment agency, ask about anything else that is available to help you. Sometimes you can get paid to go to school for training. 

You are probably grieving the loss of your mother, even though she is in a nursing home. You know she is getting worse and you can’t do anything to stop it. Why don’t you talk to your doctor about treating your depression? I don’t want it to get worse.
 
I hope things improve very fast for you. Please let me know what you find out.
_____
 
Dear Jean:
 
My mother is 90 years old and suffers from dementia. My sister has power of attorney for her legal affairs.
 
I have cared for her 24/7 for the last year. Recently she fell and broke her hip and now is in rehab getting ready to go home. The doctor said mother can come home with 24/7 care. I will and can provide that for her with the additional help of a home health care person. My sister insists that she go to a nursing home instead of home, even though the doctor says she should come home.
 
My question to you is, should I try to become her health care power of attorney so my sister will not continue to try to put her into a nursing home? I am so tired of my sister's demands and her feelings that she will get her way, even against what Mother wants and what the doctor recommends. I feel I should take some kind of action to prevent her from getting her way with everything. She doesn’t spend over 30 minutes with mother once a month.
 
Donna S., Amarillo, Texas
 
Dear Donna:
 
It sounds like you do need legal help with the situation. Why don't you check into the following. When you talk to anyone at these places, ask if they know of other places you should contact.
 
  1. Contact a good lawyer. If you can't afford to pay a lot, there are legal aid offices around the United States that help. What you would pay and if you would pay anything depends on your income, etc. 
  2. Check the National Guardianship Association at http://www.guardianship.org. Contact them if you need to.
  3. Check the National Center on Elder Abuse at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/. Contact them if you need to to find out what to do. I would suggest you call them to find out if this is elder abuse. Abuse is considered abuse, whether it is mental or physical.

Good luck in your efforts.

© 2007 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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