I took care of my dad for 5 years. When it was decided that he had to stay in SNF I thought the burden had been lifted. Now all I had to do was go and visit and that could be very enjoyable! I wasn't responsible for my dad's life anymore. No more incontinence, no more Dr.'s appointments, no more hearing my name yelled at 3am, no more paramedics. I was free. I could go back to being just a daughter and I was delighted.
No one explained to me how nursing homes worked.
Payments, co-pays, insurance issues, Medicaid, 'end of life care' vs hospice, laundry services losing ALL of dad's clothes, being accosted every time I go to visit my dad and being asked about bills and income and the status of the Medicaid application and dad's health. It got to where I couldn't stand going to visit my dad because I always ended up in some kind of meeting or another with the bookkeeper or the social worker or the director of nursing or the accounts payable person. I'd visit with my dad and get within 2 ft of the door and someone would stop me and I'd be there for another hour. If I thought caring for my dad at home was a full-time job then caring for him and advocating for him and working for him was like a 2nd job. And this didn't include making sure my dad had his own personal needs met: tobasco sauce, a bag of nuts, Coke, the razors with the little orange cap, a rat-tail comb (and ONLY a rat-tail comb), soap that didn't smell 'girly', white shoe polish, the tv guide (the CURRENT one), replacement clothes for the clothes the facility's laundry service lost, a sweater AND a light jacket, hearing aid batteries.....
I don't deny my dad his personal needs. I want him to tell me when he needs something so he doesn't go without but add this on top of the full-time job of advocating and you get a quivering, sniffly, weak, and depressed caregiver. And when it was discovered that I had overlooked a very, very, very important document that could have cost us (me) thousands of dollars that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I fell apart. I couldn't do it anymore. I cried and cried on the phone to my brother that day and he listened and he decided that he was going to take over. I'm not sure if he was taking over because it became apparent that I was inept or because he truly cared about me and wanted to help but take over he did. He alerted anyone at the facility that mattered that I was no longer to be the 'established contact'. They were NOt to jump on me the second I got there or as I tried to leave. I like to think my brother was being protective of me, had seen what all of this had done to me but I think he stepped in more in a manner of damage control. And while I'm grateful to him for stepping in I feel like the idiot sister who can't handle anything. My brother admitted that I had been doing all the heavy lifting for years and that he was happy to step in but to me I had become a failure and we needed someone who could handle all of this, like my brother. At least that's my perception.
So now I can visit my dad in peace and really spend some good time with him and I appreciate that. But my dad doesn't like my brother at the helm. He's used to me. I'm my dad's touchstone, the one he really depends upon. My dad has great faith in me which is funny because he has no idea how badly I screwed up. And I feel bad for my brother because he's doing all this work now and it's still me my dad wants.
So I guess my days as my dad's caregiver are over. For the most part. Want to hear something ironic? Now that my time is free I'm looking for a job.....as a caregiver. Ha! Actually I'm in physical rehab but a caregiver doesn't have to lift anything or anyone and the job is simple and straightforward. I still get to help people which is what I love to do and what I do professionally as well as personally. I'll only be doing at-home assessments with a home healthcare nursing agency. Funny how things work out.