Caring for an elderly parent…

These days I hear more and more from friends and readers who are caring for a parent, or who are considering moving a parent into their home.  I will be honest; being a caregiver is not easy. And if your parent is currently living in a care home they like, I would urge you not to rush to move them in with you, until you fully appreciate the responsibility. 

But for those of you who are currently caring for a parent, or who are planning to do so, I thought I would give you a couple tips to make life easier. And for those who are currently caregivers, if you have any tips, please share in the comments!

Bath Time

When we lived in Lake Havasu City Mom’s bedroom had an adjoining bathroom and sitting room. She had to step into her bathtub to take a shower. We had the tub removed and installed a walk-in shower. Bath time consisted of me lounging on her bed, watching television, while she showered in the adjacent bathroom—door open. I was just there in case there was a problem.

She always wore bath shoes, used a bench, and stepped from the shower onto a plush bath mat, so her wet feet wouldn’t touch the slick floor. 

But then she entered her nineties and had a stroke. For a few months home-health services came into our home each week and helped Mom with her shower, and they eventually showed me how to do it. I didn’t bathe Mom so much as helped her get into the shower and sit down on her bathchair, and then when she was done, help her safely exit the tub. It was precarious, and once she did fall. 

In our recent move, we gave Mom the master bedroom because it has an adjoining bath. This house has two bathrooms, and unfortunately, neither one is a walk-in shower. In fact, Mom’s is a Jacuzzi tub.

We will eventually remove the Jacuzzi tub, because frankly, none of us can use it safely. Before we made an offer on the house, I had to figure out how we could safely bathe Mom, because we couldn’t afford a bathroom remodel right away. And even if we could, that would take time.

What I found on Amazon was this nifty bath chair. I love it! And it makes bath time so much easier and safer. Mom simply sits on the chair, and there is a lever that turns the chair, and another one that easily moves the chair into the tub. 

She no longer must step in and out of a tub, she just sits down. The chair has a safety belt, which I use, so she doesn’t slip off. And I bought a special shower curtain that keeps water off the floor. 

Because this tub is so tall, I had to purchase leg extensions for the chair. And when mom is using it, she is so short that her feet don’t touch the bottom of the tub. So I bought a small plastic foot stool, so she can rest her feet on it while she bathes herself. She does NOT stand on the foot stool, it is just a comfortable place to rest her feet while she bathes herself using the handheld shower head.

What day is it?

Mom was constantly asking me, what day is it? I found this calendar clock on Amazon and she loves it! I put it where she can see it from her bed. Older people often get disoriented, and while she does have vascular dementia, she can still read this clock, and it helps her when she wakes up in the middle of the night to understand if it is night or day. This clock is one of her favorite things. Even if you are not caring for your parent, it’s a great gift idea for an older person.

Loud TV

We moved into a much smaller house than the one in Havasu. In fact, our bedroom is right next to Mom’s. In our Havasu house, our bedroom was on the other side of the house. Yet, even then, we could sometimes hear Mom’s TV.

Our son solved that potential problem by finding these TV headphones. My mother, who was resistant to any headphones, likes these.  Her TV can be on mute, but with her headphones on, she can hear it perfectly. 

Unfortunately, I do have to help her set them up, because the controls are small, and hard for her to see.

With a push of a button, they also double as hearing aids.  Mom needs hearing aids, but she refused to get them, and now, I think she is too old to adjust to hearing aids. Yet with these, if I want to have a conversation with her without me having to yell, I can. And when our son and his wife have Sunday dinner here, Mom can be part of the conversation.

Apple Watch

When caring for your parent there will undoubtably be medications to administer. For me, Mom takes medication four times a day. So I don’t forget, I have timers set on my Apple Watch. I work at home, so when I get lost in my work, the watch’s alarm ensures I don’t forget to give Mom her needed medication. 

TMI (Too much information)

This last tip is a bit personal, and Mom would probably die of embarrassment, but it must be said, because it is one of my favorites, and if you plan to care for a parent, it is something you will undoubtably have to deal with.  The tip—get a bidet. Yes, you will probably have to run the controls, but trust me, it is better than doing the task manually. And if you are not familiar with a bidet, I suggest you get one for yourself and learn how to use it before you instruct your parent on how it works.

So those are my five tips for now. Do you have any to share?

Oregon Update

We arrived at our new Oregon home six weeks ago yesterday, and we are settled in enough where I can go back to my work of writing. I don’t have an office set up yet, so for the moment I’m working from a small desk in our living room. 

Since arriving in Oregon, I’ve barely been on the computer or on social media. But we’ve been so busy I haven’t really missed it. After arriving, one of the first things we did was turn two small bedrooms into a larger bedroom for Don and me. This was a small three-bedroom house, and we gave the master bedroom to my mother, since it has an attached bathroom. 

The transformation involved removing walls (accomplished by the hard work of our son, Scott, and daughter-in-law, SeAnne), drywall, paint, new flooring, and hiring an electrician to put in new ceiling lights. 

We also put new lights in Mom’s room. She has glaucoma, and everything looks dark to her. So, we had the electrician install can lights and a ceiling fan. The room is now nice and bright, which she loves.

Since our house here is much smaller, I was concerned about Mom and her TV. But our son found some great headphones for Mom, that she doesn’t mind. Now she can keep her bedroom door open while she watches her TV, and the dogs can visit her, which she loves.

Scott and SeAnne have been so much help. They built a ramp and

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installed a new mailbox, so we could reach it without getting hit by a car. Scott has been busy organizing the shop, he hooked up all our televisions, security cameras, and updated smoke detectors. But what I enjoy the most, Sunday family dinners with Scott and SeAnne. 

Hello from Oregon

We arrived at our new Oregon home two weeks ago today. I haven’t posted much on social media—been too busy settling in, and there is still so much to do! What have we been up to so far?

On August 31, Don and I drove my mom to Kramer Junction, where we met up with my sister for the mom-hand-off. My sis took Mom with her to Morro Bay, where they would stay for the next month. Don and I headed back to Havasu to finish with our packing.

The movers showed up on September 7th. Four days later, on Saturday, Don and I said goodbye to Havasu, as we headed out of town in our motorhome, with our pups, Danny and Lily. We arrived at our new home in Oregon on Monday afternoon.

Did I mention we bought our home sight unseen? Yep. Crazy. Oh, we saw pictures, and visited the property via FaceTime. The Oregon real estate agent we worked with is an old friend of mine—a best friend from junior high school. And our son and daughter-in-law both checked out the property and fell in love with it.

But with covid and caring for my mother, it was simply impossible to go in-person property hunting. Don and I knew we really wanted to move. And if we were going to do it, this was the only way we could do it.

So, how did we like the property when we finally saw it in person? We love it. And the more we are here, the more we love it.

We have a little over two acres, but the house is small and cozy. It was a three bedroom, with two bedrooms being very small. At one time it was one room, but the previous owner made two bedrooms from it. One of the first things we did, we removed walls and turned the two small bedrooms back into a larger one, that Don and I intend to use for our bedroom.

Actually, we didn’t remove the walls—our son and daughter-in-law did. Those two have pitched in and helped us make the necessary changes to make this our home. Our plan is to move Mom into the master bedroom, so she can have her own bathroom. (Mom arrives on Wednesday.)

Tomorrow the drywaller will be here to help finish our bedroom, and hopefully our new bedroom floors will be installed on Friday. Then we need to move our bedroom furniture in from the barn. In fact, most of our stuff is still in the barn. It is going to take us a while before we are settled in. Right now, I am still looking for our coffee maker—currently using the one from the motorhome.

Hopefully my next blog post will be more exciting, but I am pretty tired these days. This moving stuff is hard!  But, we are happy. And the pups LOVE the new yard. I love being able to see our son and daughter-in-law more often. I often dreamed of being close enough to our kids to have them over for dinner on the weekends. We did that last weekend. And our son just suggested we get together again next weekend for dinner. I love this.