Elderly care from a non-relative. I need guidance.
I take care of an elderly couple 3 times a week for 3-4 hours a day. I have been doing this for almost 9 months. I am not related to this couple. Their two grown children are remote and not as involved as they should be. The elderly couple are beginning to need more help and responsibility. I am the one they depend on and call for assistance. During the very beginning of my employ with this couple, I was called 2 hours after leaving their home to take the elderly woman to the emergency room. I spent 5 hours at the hospital and didn't get home until 9:30 at night after starting work at 10 in the morning. I didn't charge them for my time spent at the hospital. Why? Because I felt sorry for them. The elderly gentleman was recently diagnosed with first stage Alzheimer's. I suspect the elderly woman has some form of dementia. She hallucinates, thinking people are in her house cooking and taking things. She wakes up in the night and smells coffee, thinking someone is outside her window drinking coffee. She thinks people can get into her home through the heating vents or somehow coming in through cracks in the roof line. They have ADT security, their home is very secure.
The 3 days a week have turned into any day of the week, any hour. I feel like I'm an on-call employee. Lately, I've been avoiding answering their phone calls. I listen to my answer machine so I can try to figure out a solution to their problem before I speak with them. The elderly couple can no longer drive and so I've been tasked with that job too. I take them to their doctor appointments, errands, groceries, pharmacy, library, etc. They know they can't drive and yet they schedule appointments all over the calendar, not just the days I'm supposed to work for them. I end up switching days, longer hours, etc. I feel a burn-out coming on. I no longer enjoy working for these people. They are becoming more needy and more demanding. I'm non-confrontational and so I end up doing things I don't want to do or have time to do. I have my own family, pets, housework, yard work, errands to tend with.
I just received a phone message from the elderly woman inquiring if I would like to add another day to my schedule. I already work when they need me, so adding another day wouldn't really change much, except they would have the benefit of knowing I would be there. I'm dependable and reliable to them. I don't want the added responsibility. I have trouble falling asleep at night. I'm becoming resentful to the way the elderly woman manipulates my life. She always says she appreciates everything I do, she thanks me too. Sometimes I feel it's phoney because it's offered so much. She words her requests in the way that it makes me feel guilty to say no. I was hired to do light housekeeping and drive them to their doctor appointments on occasion. I am doing that plus fixing things and more and more errands are being added to my list. I made it a point not to be involved in their finances or their security. I don't want to know their ADT security codes or any of their personal issues. When I took this job, I just wanted to clean their house, that was what I thought the intention was. Their children never call me to ask how things are. I've not received one phone call or email from them in that regard.
I will return the elderly lady's phone call at some point today. I will turn down her offer to work one extra day. I don't think I was cut out to be a care giver and I'm contemplating finding another job in a different field. This housekeeping job has turned into much more than I could ever imagine. The emotional roller coaster and physical demands are much more than any person not qualified in the health profession can endure.
I just received another phone message. This is the 3rd message before noon time. This time the elderly lady found the watch she lost. She said it was inside her purse right on the top. She had searched her purse many times since she lost her watch. She said there was also a gold ring at the bottom of her purse and she was wondering if it was mine. I don't own a gold ring. My wedding band is silver and I don't wear jewelry except for my wedding band. The tone was accusatory, like I had taken her watch and placed it in her purse today. I didn't go to their residence today but I was there yesterday. She always tells me when things go missing, whether or not she misplaces these things, they seem to show up weeks later in the most peculiar places. I'm at my wits end.
I've read numerous articles relating to elderly care on this website. Most are from relatives tending to their parents. I was wondering if anyone out there has had a similar experience as my own and if they can offer a helpful solution to my distress.