My wife and I are leaving for Sicily on Sunday. As primary caregivers for my mother-in-law we had to make many preparations for her care before we left. It is amazing the things that you take for granted when providing care for an individual. My wife’s sisters are stepping in to pinch hit for us while we are away. We thought this would be a simple task but as it progressed we realized that no one really knew the day to day responsibilities and details that go into providing daily care for my mother-in-law. So we started with the big picture and worked down to the details. The first thing we did was to make a calendar of the days we would be away. On it we posted her doctor’s and other appointments and who was responsible for transportation and assisting with the visit. Since we had always taken her to these appointments we almost overlooked that her sisters had no idea where any of these places were located, the logistics of getting her there (where to park the car, where the handicap sticker was located, whether to use a cane or a walker, what they needed to bring like the x-rays or a shoe for her to wear at the orthopedist). We began by making lists and maps. We listed her doctors with their addresses and phone numbers. Next we made lists of emergency numbers and medications, the phone number of her pharmacy and its location and hours of operation. Besides the lists they also needed hands on instruction in the use of an oxygen concentrator, how to add water to the attached humidifier, where the emergency tank was located and its use during a power outage. This was followed by a schedule of her home care workers with their individual responsibilities. We ended with what day the cleaning lady came, when to put out the recyclables and where to buy groceries. I thought to myself that this must be overwhelming for my wife’s sisters, learning about so many new things all at once. After all we had the opportunity to learn these things over time as my mother-in-law required more and more intervention. An outcome in preparing for this trip has been that we realized how much the responsibility of caring for my mother-in-law has grown over time and how many little details were required to do it well.
-By Hello! Home Care contributing writer Bill Mishico