I never could have imagined a year ago that my grandmother would require 24/7 care. I guess I could have tried harder to break her habits of leaving the sink running and walking away all the time. She has always been a multi-tasker, but in her current condition, misses some things.
Inevitably the sink flooded her apartment several times and caused water damage. The final straw was one of the over-zealous (and generally unhelpful) neighbors saw her walking in the hallway, assumed she was wandering, and made a huge fuss getting social services involved.
My grandmother is the most selfless person I know and always cares more about other people than herself. We all feel she deserves to live at home as long as possible. With private care being costly, I immediately volunteered to do as much as I could bare. That meant arriving early Weds and leaving Saturday morning EVERY week. I don't accept compensation, because I have my finances in order and don't need the $, plus think I'd feel ethically wrong if I were to. One of the biggest motivations is that her savings are finite and since she requires constant care, she is ALWAYS spending money. Except when I'm there. I've saved her over $40,000 in the last 7 months.
In the beginning, I felt like I had no option since nobody else was willing :(. I also wanted to be there for her in her time of need. I never thought I could stand almost 72 hours being stuck somewhere EVERY week. I have to say, it's gotten a lot easier. I almost look forward to it now-like a small vacation from my life.
She was diagnosed with vascular dementia when this started, and she seemed so confused. I really thought she was going to decline like her husband (my grandpa). He had frontal lobe dementia and couldn't really even have a conversation towards the end, but I always knew he was still there somewhere. We'd always do like clint eastwood in dirty harry and pretend shoot it from the hip. Sometimes he'd get me first, sometimes i'd get him :D. That was an eye opening experience because it proved to me that you don't completely lose someone. Through it all, she stayed right by his side and managed to keep him out of a nursing home. He died in bed at home and it was because of her that he was able to.
I found that reminding my grandmother of things, and making sure her blood sugar stays constant (diabetic) with regular meals was key. I feel like I witnessed a miracle. She improved steadily for weeks until she seemed like she was back to her old self again. In that regard, it's incredibly rewarding.
Does anyone else find that it gets easier over time?