by Christine Steinmetz, J.D., Hotline Attorney
This post is the sixth in our series on caregivers. In our previous posts, we discussed the different legal documents that can assist a caregiver before the person being cared for becomes incapacitated. In this post, I spoke to Susan, a caregiver for her mother, to get her perspective on taking care of a loved one. The purpose of this post is to give the caregiver’s perspective and to assist other caregivers as to what to expect when taking on his or her new role.
ELM: Please tell me how you became a caregiver? Was it first for a family member or did you do this as paid employment?
Susan: I became a caregiver when my mother was in her late 80’s and lived alone. She was almost deaf but refused to use her hearing aids as she claimed they did not work. She did not hear her phone ring though it was just a few feet from her. My suspicion was she didn’t always answer the phone as she could not carry on a conversation with the caller because she couldn’t hear all the conversation. When she did not answer her phone after several tries on my part, I would drive 10 miles to her house to check on her.
Her caregiving increased when she fell at home, breaking her pelvis, entering a nursing home for a month for re-hab. She then went to another nursing home but only stayed another month at her insistence. Next nursing home stay resulted after more falls at home. She stayed there 3 months and broke her hip there. Final stay resulted after a phone call from her that she had fallen at home. I arranged for an ambulance once again and she was transferred to a Spectrum Health nursing home where they recommended she be admitted. She remained there for three years where she died at age 92.
ELM: Did you receive any training to become a caregiver?
Susan: I did not receive any training as a caregiver, only used common sense to know when she needed me or professional help.
ELM: What were your responsibilities as a caregiver?
Susan: My responsibilities as a caregiver were initially to call my mother on a daily basis at home sometimes several times a day and arranging for meal deliveries from Mecosta, Michigan Senior Helping Hands. When admitted to nursing homes, I visited her 3 to 4 times a week bring her treats, bringing her clean laundry, bringing her news of grandchildren.
ELM: What surprised you, if anything, when you became a caregiver?
Susan: What surprised me as a caregiver was I was not able to make her happy at her facilities. I always left the facility feeling guilty as I was the one who could not let her go home. Once I found a note from her (while she was sleeping) that said “somebody please take me home”. It broke my heart.
After reading this, I hope you realize the important role a caregiver plays in the life of the person they are caring for. If you are a caregiver or have questions regarding caregivers, please contact the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors at 800.347.5297 and our hotline attorneys will be happy to answer your questions.