You know those ideas, and subsequent decisions, that are so simple that when you have them you think, “Why in the hell did I not think of this a long time ago? It would have made my life so much easier!” We had one of those recently. Get my mom a “momsitter.”
When we moved my mom last August to this new facility, she was notorious for being up and about all the time. She would wander the halls at 3AM, reading bulletin boards and eating late night pizza with the nurses on nightshift. Whenever we’d go to visit she was never in her room. We’d find her sitting in the lounge or the cafeteria. Other times we’d have to wander around till we found her wandering around. She was active.
Now when we visit, she is usually in her bed. She’s laying in bed watching tv or just staring out the door at people walking by. Once we get there, she gets up, we brush hair and put it in a ponytail, put our shoes on, and head out for a walk or a car ride or something. In last 3 to 6 months mom has moved from someone proactive to someone reactive, probably in part due to the disease and in part the medication used to treat it. As a result, she’s getting fat, she’s getting less mentally elastic, and slipping faster into inactivity than she needs to be. This whole process should be more of a fight. Not something you lay in bed waiting for.
Enter the momsitter. The facility mom is in has a huge team of caregivers and volunteers that do a fantastic job taking care of her, worrying about her, and loving her. Still the fact remains that they can’t give her the amount of one-on-one attention that she needs to stay active and focused right now. There’s too many residents they have to attend to. And the reality is, if you put her in a chair with a magazine and a puzzle, the minute you walk away, that puzzle better be able to work itself because mom is taking a nap. Stay with her, she’ll do the puzzle till it’s done, or until she decides she’s done with it and gets up and walks off, either way, a win.
As with most really simple ideas, the idea is the first step. The next step is usually to get completely demoralized by how complicated it will be to make it happen. And the third step is to try to find some source of motivation to power through.
I called my employee assistance program through my work and they acted as a research and referral service, coming back with a list of potential companies who provide companion care. My brother did the initial screening calls based on a list of questions we developed. I did the final interview with the company we selected.
So starting Monday, my mom is getting a momsitter three days a week for three hours a day. On the list of things to do…take walks, paint her fingernails, help her fold clothes and organize, play games, sing songs, work puzzles, hang out outside on nice days. How great is that? And why didn’t I think of this sooner???