Family Caregivers: Finding the Right Help

By Carol Doak

Family Caregivers: Finding the Right Help

Carol Doak (top left) with her siblings and parents.

As the daughter of two aging parents over the past five years, I have experienced many stages of being a caregiver. When my father’s Parkinson’s became more debilitating, my mom did her very best to keep things normal with meal prep and housekeeping.

Eventually it was obvious to us that her back pain and arthritis was putting her in dangerous situations. We all did our best to be there most every day and then eventually hired some outside help for the care and meal prepping.

Every time we visited, we seemed to spend our time fixing the TV or computer, cleaning the bathroom, changing the bedding and vacuuming. None of this was a problem but we soon began realizing that we weren’t really ever visiting. I would admit to getting resentful at times when my parents kept interrupting our chores to just talk. Of course, that was all they cared about.

Since we own a cleaning company, it was an obvious choice to increase the visits from the cleaning team. Having a cleaning service felt a little different to my mom who felt badly that she could not keep up with things herself.  With the team-cleaning approach, with a supervisor who she could get to know and trust, my mom felt very taken care of and the team of three or four stayed in their house no longer than an hour each visit. All the beds were changed, dusting and vacuuming done throughout, bathrooms cleaned and disinfected, ceiling fans and baseboards dusted and even all of the trash collected and taken out. The cleanings were done all at once rather than a little at a time as we could.

My dad’s health declined until he passed away two years ago.

Bringing in outside, non-family caregivers is often a challenge because many seniors find it to be an inconvenience or intrusion. But non-medical caregivers such as Centsible Senior Services (featured in this publication), medical senior home-care agencies or even a cleaning service with compassion can be of great benefit to the family. It allowed our visits to be more about spending time together and focusing on each other.

The role of outside caregivers and eventually hospice was such a godsend. In our case, we continued to have the cleaning team come through biweekly so that everyone could focus more on caring for my parents. My parents also enjoyed the bit of socialization the team provided.

I often receive calls from adult children across the country to help with their parents’ homes. It does give them a peace of mind knowing they are checked on regularly. The team is in every part of the house so emergencies can be thwarted. One of our teams did find an 85-year-old woman on the floor in her home. She had suffered a stroke hours earlier, and the team was able to call 911 to save her life.

As caregivers, whether nearby, in the home or across the country, we cannot do it all and still give what our loved ones want. They want our focused attention and to feel safe when so much of their lives is no longer in their control. Sending professionals in to help, and free you up, makes them feel like they are not as much of a burden. Relax, sit, and cry with them and be with them where they are.

Carol Doak is the owner of Alachua County Mini Maid. To learn more about Mini Maid’s services go online to http://minimaidgainesville.com., or call (352) 374-4141.




Also in this issue:

Sam Boone on updating your own legal documents and family plan

Ruth Brunner on living with caregiver guilt