It has been two years since I began in-home care for Kate. I spent about eight or nine months considering the move. Then I agonized over how to tell her. Because of her memory problem, I decided there was no reason to bring up the subject too far ahead of time. I told her a few minutes before the sitter arrived for her first visit. She asked why I was having someone stay with her. I told her I was feeling uneasy about leaving her alone and that I would feel better if someone were with her. She said, “Okay.” That was it. I was surprised at how well it went.
We started with sitters three afternoons a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) four hours each visit. We continue that same schedule two years later. Fortunately, we have kept the same sitter on Wednesday and Friday. We have had three different sitters on Monday. Each one has worked pretty well although I have a preference for the one who comes twice a week and have felt that way from the beginning.
Kate and I have both adjusted well to the sitters themselves as well as the schedule, but we have responded differently. At first, Kate seemed to do pretty well. She may have even enjoyed having the companionship. As she became increasingly dependent on me, she also became more insecure about my leaving her. She would act surprised (I’m sure she really was) when I told her I was leaving and would say something like “You’re leaving? Why don’t you stay with us.” That left me to explain why I needed to go. She always gave in, but she also looked disappointed. More recently, even though she is more dependent on me now, she has been very accepting of the sitter. She often expresses enthusiasm when they walk in. In the past 2-3 weeks, she has shown no sign of disappointment that I am leaving. Of course, that makes me happy. I just hope it continues.
I have adapted differently than Kate. From the outset, I hated to leave her. Over time, however, I have been more comfortable. That is especially true recently as Kate has responded more positively, but I still feel a little uneasy when I leave her. My own experience has made me think about my dad who never wanted to have someone stay with my mom. My brother and I tried to get him to accept help and succeeded in getting him to try it. He let her go after one or two visits.
Despite my feelings, I have continued because I felt it was the right thing to do. I believe it is important for me to keep up with some of my outside activities. My plan for Kate’s care has always included bringing in help as needed. I am actually surprised that I have not felt the need to increase the number of days we have a sitter. In many cases, caregivers don’t have paid help because of the expense. In our case, we have long-term care insurance that will pay up to eight hours a day seven days a week. The only reason I don’t take advantage of that is my desire to spend as much time with Kate as I can. I know that we are approaching a time when I may not be able to take her out with me as we have done before. I have a stronger desire to enjoy all the quality time we have left than to use the insurance just because we have it.
I think I am in a good position. My intent is to continue monitoring our needs and increase her in-home care as needed.