Last month I was introduced to an elderly couple and their daughter with the hopes of me providing care-giving. At first, I was supposed to be a backup for the lady who was already helping them, in case her schedule didn’t allow it. However, as of two weeks ago, that lady found a job that is giving her almost forty hours a week, so I have now become the main hired caregiver.
It’s an interesting situation. The gentleman is ninety-five years old and his wife is ninety. Their daughter is retired and, while she has a husband and a home down closer to Detroit, she has opted to live with her parents to care for them in their own home. Once a week, she tries to make the two hour drive (one way) home for the day to see her husband and do stuff around her own house. I believe this woman might actually be a saint. Could you imagine doing this for your parents?
I am lucky in the fact that both my mom and my husband’s parents all live within two miles of us. Not a lot of traveling is required to see them or help them out. Also, all parental units are in their sixties right now and all are still quite lively, vibrant, independent, and not needing care. With my brother living in Chicago, and my husband being an only child, it will fall upon us, someday, to take care of our parents. I’m glad I’m getting this experience now so I’m better prepared in the future.
Frank, the elderly gentleman, gets around very well. He uses a walker in the house and a cane when he’s outside. He’s ninety-five years old and still mows his own lawn! Joanne, his wife, doesn’t get around so well. She depends heavily on a walker and needs help getting out of her chair. They are both hard of hearing and when they try to talk to each other in their soft voices, they can’t hear a word each other is saying. They both love the Detroit Tigers and religiously watch every game.
I now come to their house once a week when their daughter is going home for the day to hang out with Frank and Joanne. I enjoy them both very much. They are incredibly sweet, not demanding and seem appreciative of the things I do for them. They have a pretty structured routine, which I try to follow as closely as I can, so I’m not disturbing them. Trust me, they let me know when I’m not doing something quite right…but they do it very kindly.
Frank has gotten comfortable with me and tells me stories about his childhood when we are eating meals together. Because of all the old guys in my family, who are no longer with us, I have always enjoyed the heck out of hearing these types of stories. Joanne notices the color of polish on my toes and the length of my hair. Because of Frank’s independence, I spend much more time with Joanne. He goes out to the barn to “work” after lunch (if the Tigers aren’t on TV) so I spend the afternoon with Joanne. We watch a lot of “Murder She Wrote” and “Perry Mason”.
After spending the last year with Doris and eventually helping with her hospice care, I know what I’ve gotten myself into with this couple. There won’t be a happy ending with both of them in their nineties. However, I will give them the very best care I can provide and treat them with the warmth and respect that they deserve,and that they have been giving me. I have always loved the elderly, especially little old guys, I’m sure in part because of my grandparents, who were the very best grandma and grandpa anyone could ever hope to have. I will enjoy Frank and Joanne for however much time I have with them.