(Pic: mom taking her first steps on the stairs in the physiotherapy room)
Looking after an elderly parent who's just had hip surgery can be very demanding. Many times more so when she has dementia. Whatever advice or precaution you give doesn't sink in. A lot of time and patience is needed to explain and repeat instructions given by the doctors. As soon as you have done explaining one simple instruction, it's forgotten within the next minute.
It is this dementia that complicates an otherwise smooth transition to full recovery for my mother. It is also this that wears down the caregiver, yours truly, who has to keep an eye on her almost every minute of the day. Fortunately, everyone at home helps out. My 5-year old grand-daughter watches over mom while I am in the kitchen preparing a glass of milk for her. "Make sure great grandma doesn't try to get up from her bed," I tell her. She nods her head, feeling important and proud to be a member of the homecare team.
The nights are the most stressful for me. I have to be alert for every sound or move that my mom makes. There's the constant fear that she might try and get up on her own. So I fight sleep to be on guard. My mom doesn't fully comprehend the dire consequences of a second fall, even though the doctor has repeatedly reminded her. In fact she stubbornly insists that she's never had an operation in her life, even when we show her the x-rays and medical reports.
That's the challenge of caring for my mom. And it looks like the family's in for the long haul.
Siblings can take turns to spend time with their aged parent. It shouldn't always have to be the daughter who is not married, or who has no children, or who is widowed, to be the primary caregiver, as is the general practice. This is making presumptions that she is the best person to take care of their aged mother or father. Everyone has to make sacrifices, not just one sibling. It should not be that life goes on uninterrupted for all, except the caregiver sibling who has to make drastic adjustments to her lifestyle.
(Pic: I picked this up at the National Library Singapore last month. A good read for daughters who are caregivers of their elderly parents.)
I am fortunate that my siblings are supportive. My younger sister from Batu Pahat is relieving me for the next few days so that I can attend the Asia Pacific Conference on Ageing in Singapore. I have cancelled all my scheduled activities and appointments for the coming months, except for the APCA. Hopefully I might pick up something useful that will help me to better understand my mom's dementia and provide her with the care that she needs.