I am still caring for my father. To be fair, he isn’t really much trouble and is perfectly happy in his own room, watching TV or listening to Classic FM. I make his food, wash and iron his clothes, do his shopping, help him with personal care and make sure his money is safe and working well for him. The vast majority of the time, this works well.
Of course, it has its moments. One of the worst parts is the fact that I am not free. Not free to have a lie-in. Not free to have a weekend away. Not free to just go out for the day. Luckily, I am a bit of a home bird and enjoy being ‘in’. I am also a very popular neighbour – always there to take in people’s deliveries!
I also feel bad for my husband, who actually would like to go out with me sometimes too. We can make arrangements, of course, but it requires preparation and emergency procedures. We have Telecare in Hartlepool and this is brilliant. Dad wears a button on his wrist and knows that if he falls or is worried about anything, help will be there in a few minutes. We also use an app which lets me see him on my laptop webcam from my phone, as long as we are somewhere with a wi-fi signal.
Not every day is good. Occasionally we have worrying events which make me think that perhaps there is some dementia there or at least some brain damage caused by the mini-strokes he has suffered. A few days ago I heard him shouting. I went upstairs to find him sitting on a small oak table on the landing, pants and trousers round his ankles. He thought he was at the toilet. Fortunately, he had not ‘been’ and called for me when realising his mistake. Perhaps the small fibre optic Christmas tree he had crushed brought him to his senses and made him realise his mistake? It is the sort of thing you laugh about afterwards but still leaves you with worries for the future.
My days are mapped out and run according to the clock. Spontaneity is not an option. We are back to the issue of holiday care as have booked ourselves a cruise in March, having sold our lovely motorhome as we aren’t free to use it as we used to. The lovely home where dad went last time doesn’t have a respite care room so you run the risk of finding they have no rooms available the week before your holiday. I’ve been investigating live-in care. It isn’t cheap but that’s not the issue. My greatest worries are that we’ll get someone who is not suitable or who doesn’t look after him as well as I’d like. What if they don’t respect my lovely house? Have wild parties? Don’t stay in the house with dad? I’ve always had ‘trust’ issues!
Being a carer has its ups and downs. I’m certainly not complaining as this is something I chose to do. I was under no pressure to do it. But I hope that by writing about my experiences, it might help others in the same boat or those considering caring for an elderly relative.