At some point, most caregivers will face the heart-wrenching dilemma of how to take good care of their ailing parent or spouse and still have a life of their own. Family-care leadership and care-team operations are the two fundamentals of the Doris Inc. caregiving approach that will solve caregivers' stressful predicament.
My brother, David, and I became equal partners at the helm of Doris Inc. We proactively planned and managed all aspects of our mother's care and well-being, and always spoke with one unified voice. As family-care leaders, we became knowledgeable about our mother's medical conditions and care needs, and we scheduled, coordinated and monitored her care.
We assembled three care teams that worked collaborative to anticipate and meet Doris' needs as her health declined. Our family caregiving team consisted of David and I. We played a dual role of managing care and providing care. In our caregiving role, we were responsible for ensuring that all of Mom's needs and wishes were met, because we knew her best.
Our health care team was responsible for Mom's medical care and eventually her nutrition and hygiene care. The team changed as her needs changed, but included her family doctor, a home health care service provider, various medical specialists, and eventually a nursing home.
Our caregiver-companion team was responsible for Doris' happiness and comfort, and eventually for helping her to eat. We started by hiring one companion to work three two-hour shifts a week. Once my mother reached the middle stage of Alzheimer's disease she needed as much care as companionship, and a lot more shifts, so I changed the job to caregiver-companions. Even if a family can only afford to hire one caregiver-companion or use volunteers, just a few times a week of personal attention will give an elder a diversion from his or her illnesses, and their family caregiver a much needed break. I will discuss the role of caregiver-companions in a separate blog post.
Doris Inc. worked beyond our wildest dreams. My mother was happier, no longer lonely, and she was receiving much better care. We had created a loving home environment for her, with professional, attentive and compassionate care. We also had developed a great back-up system for us. By sharing the care, I had more personal time and I was able to find a state of equilibrium where my mother's needs and mine were both being met.
Shirley Roberts was the primary caregiver of her mother for seven years and is the author of Doris Inc.: A Business Approach to Caring for Your Elderly Parents.