My parents were early risers. They went to bed early and got up early in the morning. I’m a night owl. I usually go to bed around 1 AM and sleep-in when I can. Sleep patterns vary among individuals and often change when we age. Even the way we start the day is unique to an individual. Some people are up as soon as they rise, while others (myself included) like to ease into the day without a lot of conversation, enjoying a quiet slow start to the day.
When I first began as a caregiver for my mother-in-law she was a morning person. She got up early, showered, dressed, made her breakfast, made her bed and was still ready and waiting for me to pick her up for a 9:30 appointment. As the years passed she required more and more time to get ready. Now it is about 11:00 before she is ready to start her day. We adjusted to this by making afternoon appointments and I modified my arrival time so that I came later giving her time to get ready at a pace that was comfortable for her.
Now that she is in hospice care, part of the planning is coordinating her health care workers. In the beginning everyone wanted to come early in the morning way before my mother-in-law was ready to begin her day. She was willing to try this for a few days but it soon became evident that this was too taxing. We then scheduled her health care workers to begin at 11:00. She was much more relaxed, rested and ready to share in her care.
The other scheduling issue we had to resolve was to use all the days of the week for her support services. In the beginning the health care worker, nurse, Chaplin, social worker and hospice volunteers would overlap and come on the same day. Although she wanted to avail herself of their services she got very tired and was extremely fatigued after their visits. We were able to create a schedule that allowed us to minimize the overlap and she now gladly awaits their arrival.
I guess the lesson to be learned in this for the caregiver is that people have different internal schedules. When providing care for an individual you must take this into account if you want your assistance to be effective and less invasive.
-By Hello Home Care contributing writer Bill Mishico