Saturday, January 21, 2006

Another Death

"Jona won't be coming in tomorrow or Saturday," reported Ana from Caregivers Services, the agency that provides personal caregivers for my mother in addition to the staff at Ocean View Assisted Living. "Her grandmother died."
Jona is the daytime caregiver for my mother. She's about 28 years old and has showed up at 6 am in my mother's room at Ocean View Assisted Living every day except Sundays for a year and four months. Maybe she has had a week or two off during all that time--the week when my mother was in the hospital, and a few other 3- or 4-day weekends.
First she worked 6 am to 2 pm. Then last June when Mom nearly died, I asked Jona to work 6 am to 6 pm, which she did for six months. In December I cut her hours so she could leave at 4 pm, and since January 1 she has been leaving at 2 pm--because I need to reduce Mom's expenses and because Mom now seems to be familiar enough with the routine that she can be left with the Ocean View staff for longer periods, without a private attention.
Nevertheless, I feel guilty about how many hours Jona works. After attending college in computer science in the Philippines, Jona now sits cooped up with my mother in a small room or takes her out on errands. Until she gets full legal residency status, she can't afford college in the US.
This death creates a new irony for Jona: after giving months and months of loving care to my mother, she will never be giving that kind of care to her own grandmother. Instead of years of dementia, her grandmother suffered a stroke, was hospitalized, and died three days later.
Thinking of these things, I was determined that Jona would get enough time off to be with her family and cope with this loss.
Usually Ana can find a replacement when Jona or Connie, the night caregiver, needs a night off. But Raquel wasn't available this time, and I was not willing to train a new person. (My goal is to continue to reduce the private caregiving hours, not begin relationships with new people.)
In a nutshell, I was facing Thursday and Saturday with myself and Sunrise as the only caregivers for the 6 am to 2 pm shift. Still I assured Jona that she didn't need to show up Friday; she should be with her family, flying in from around the country and from the Philippines.
On Thursday evening I learned that Jona would indeed be taking Friday off.
I ended up going in at 6 am on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday I took desk work with me to work on and stayed until 2 pm, but on Friday I left by 10 am. Connie, the 2 pm to 10 pm caregiver, volunteered to come back at 6 am Saturday and stay until 10 pm, a double shift. I came in late Saturday afternoon and gave her a couple hours of break.
By Saturday night I was grateful for a few hours to go out to see a film.
Conclusion: I'm glad to be saving money, but I don't want to be doing so much care giving.
I need to transition Mom to more and more time with the Ocean View staff, even though the ratio of 4-5 people for 28 residents doesn't allow for the TLC and personal conversation Mom is used to.
I started the personal caregivers to keep her from falling as she recuperated from a broken hip. Because I had heard that 50% of people in their eighties who break a hip die within a year, my goal was to keep her comfortable for about a year.
Now I realize that the other 50% may live five or ten years--and need to conserve their financial resources to last that long.

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