So often online I see people giving tips and advice on caregiving, but it is rare that I see a post describing mistakes and failures in caregiving.
But being that we learn infinity more from our mistakes than from our failures, I feel that this post is especially important.
It is a listing of the biggest mistakes I made in taking care of my mother.
And I write it for one reason…so that you can learn from them and not repeat them.
I list them in no particular order (other than the first mistake) and I am sure that there are others I could list, but of all the “whoppers” I committed in my caregiving, these are the most prominent ones.
Figuring I Had More Time Before “It” Happened
“It” in this case is Mom’s heart attack and entering a nursing home…at age 68. In every instance when I talk to someone about what is going on in my life, I get the same universal response…
“68! She was so young!!!”
Yes she was.
I never would have thought that this could happen so soon. But it did. And if there is one lesson to take away from this post it is this.
Start addressing some of the most pressing caregiving issues NOW. If you put it off you do so at your detriment.
Not Checking Mom’s Insurance
If your parents are like my parents, then they aren’t all that well versed in the world of Medicare, the different parts to Medicare, open enrollment periods, etc…
And while it was several years ago, I remember that there was an instance with Mom’s insurance where she thought she was buying a Medicare Supplement Plan and actually bought a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Of course, I didn’t find out about that until after the heart attack when bills were coming in and claims were getting denied.
Now, it all got straightened out in the end and everything was covered, but the point is that if you are the primary caregiver you better have
a good idea of the type of coverage your parents have and that it is adequate for their needs.
I know this might be a rough situation. After all, your parents might be proud and not want you to see their personal business. That reaction
is to be expected. However, it is something you really have to work around.
Not Calling Daily To See If She Was OK
I didn’t think this was necessary. After all Mom was living in my brother’s basement and he was keeping an eye on her. But on the fateful day of the heart attack he went out and didn’t see her that Sunday. And because he left early for work on Monday he wasn’t in the habit of checking on her until he came home.
So when we tried to call Monday around noon and couldn’t get a hold of her, that’s when we went into panic mode.
To this day we have no idea when she took the heart attack and how long she was unconscious until help arrived. But a more diligent approach on the part of my brother and I making sure she was ok should have been done.
This also relates to my first point, about figuring we had more time. Because after all, Mom was only 68. I didn’t think I needed to check on her every day. Even though her health was declining, it didn’t seem to be THAT bad. But that was an awful assumption for us to make.
Not Knowing Her Doctor and Medications
When the heart attack happened, my brother had to deal with the police and emergency crews that came to the house. And in that confusion one of the things that they asked for was a list of medications plus Mom’s doctors.
Now, she had medications on a coffee table next to her lift chair. But not all of them. And we also didn’t have a list of doctors she was seeing.
So after going to the hospital, getting the prognosis and seeing her admitted to ICU, my brother and I headed back to her apartment to scrummage for medication bottles and a list of doctors.
I can tell you from personal experience that this is NOT the time to be doing this. So make sure that you know where your parents keep their meds and who their doctors are.
Like I said, this is not an all-inclusive list, but you get the idea. There are many things that you can do to make your life easier as a caregiver.
Start getting those things done now!
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