Family Caregivers, Gram Helen's Story Family Caregiver, Senior Care

Grandma Lives Here

I worked in nursing homes as a teenager and young adult.  After a 29 year unrelated career, I wanted to start a business that served seniors.  I chose Adult Daycare, and because I wanted to start the business with my best friend (who wanted to work with children), we decided to open an Intergenerational Daycare Center.

For more than 2 years I have worked closely with family caregivers.  With our staff I have served dozens of seniors.  I attended a “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” class, and immediately saw the value in this type of training.  We began hosting the series in our center to better serve families.

During this first two years I watched my independent grandmother enter the murky world of dementia.  She managed to remain in her own home until this spring.  I knew that she was beginning to need assistance.  My mom saw the need, and spent every day caring for her.  I knew that bringing her to Gentog would be good for Grandma and would give Mom some relief.  I knew that Mom believed in what we do at Gentog, but she couldn’t take that step.  Inconvenience?  Maybe.  Difficult to convince Gram that she needed any help?  Definitely.  I couldn’t help feeling saddened and a bit guilty that we help so many families, but I couldn’t help my own.

So I tried to fit visiting Grandma into my weekends.  Most Sundays I spent time with her so Mom could have some time off.  I enjoyed the visits, but still felt guilty that I didn’t do more.  Then one Sunday in May I went to take Gram to brunch and found her on the floor, unable to move.  Her shoulder was crushed in what we assume was a flying trip on a rug.  It was a life changing day.

After surgery and a few days in the hospital, she was moved to a rehab center to recover.  She hated it.  We hated it.  The staff was caring, but stretched to their limits.  While her shoulder began to heal, her dementia became worse (or was it just more obvious to all of us?)  We knew she could not stay in a nursing home forever.  We knew she couldn’t go home alone again.  We decided to share the care.  Monday through Friday Gram would stay at my house and attend Gentog.  Weekends she would stay with Mom and Dad.

And so this summer I became a family caregiver.  I have so much to learn about this challenge.  I’ll be sharing what I learn in coming posts.

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