When the roles of caregivers are reversed


Encompass Health

Posted on

Dec 21, 2022


Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties

Share This

Pamela Gillis was used to her mother playing the role of the caregiver. In addition to being a mother and wife, her mother Hautie Ezell started her nursing career in the late 1940s, and was also a hospice volunteer and Sunday school teacher.

“Caring for others was a large part of her life,” Gillis said. “She was very independent, so it was hard for her to give in and let someone else take care of her.”

That’s what Ezell had to do though, at the age of 91, when after a fall, her health began to quickly decline. She had also suffered several small strokes and had dementia. At that point, their roles reversed, and Gillis became her mother’s caregiver. It was a difficult time for both of them, but thanks to the help of family and friends, as well as home health and hospice, Ezell’s final days were filled with love and respect.

Ezell passed away in December 2020. Though Gillis knows what it is like to be a caregiver—she’s an area manager for Encompass Health – Home Health & Hospice and has worked in hospice for many years—she said it’s different when you are caring for a family member, especially a parent who used to be the one taking care of you.

“When it’s your family member, especially your mother, it is totally different,” she said.

Gillis offers the following advice for those who are faced with caring for a parent or other loved one.

Get help

After her mother’s first fall, she had home health begin visiting to help provide therapy and medical assistance. Gillis said her mother looked forward to the visits each day, and her Encompass Health Home Health team was there the day Ezell transitioned to hospice.

“When I made the call to my office letting them know that I wanted my mother transitioned, they were great,” Gillis said. “My second family kicked in. It was a quick and timely admission, and they began meeting her needs and mine immediately. They were there to support us both.”

Don’t neglect your own needs

Gillis admits this is easier than it sounds when you’re faced with caring for a parent or loved one. In addition to caring for her mother, she was working and has children of her own.

She said her family was great in offering to relieve her, and her husband took on household chores.

“You just have to form your own little caregiver team,” she said. “I also had a great group of ladies that stayed with her when I couldn’t. Again, it was a blessing when hospice came onto the scene. That’s one thing I tell families that I talk with now: ‘Let our hospice team help you.’ We are here for the patient and the family.”

Don’t wait until it’s too late to call hospice

Hospice allowed Gillis and her family to spend quality time with Ezell and one another during her final days. As the hospice team tended to her medical needs and kept her comfortable, the family was able to be with her. “It lets you be the child or family member you are,” Gillis said of hospice care.

Other Articles You May Like

The Importance of Visiting Senior Parents After Moving Into a Senior Community

Moving elderly parents into a senior living community is a significant transition for the entire family. Its a time filled with mixed emotions, adjustments, and new routines. Amidst these changes, the importance of visiting senior parents cannot be overstated. Regular visits offer more than just a check-in; theyre fundamental to your parents emotional well-being and adjustment to their new living situation.Making Your ImpactHere are five compelling reasons why visiting your elderly parents after their move to a senior living community is essential:Emotional Support and Reassurance: The transition to a senior living community can be emotionally challenging for your parents. They might feel a sense of loss, uncertainty, or isolation. Your visits act as a critical source of emotional support. Seeing a familiar face provides comfort and reassurance, reminding them that they are loved and not forgotten.It can significantly reduce feelings of loneliness and depression, fostering a more positive outlook on their new life phase.Maintaining Family Bonds: Regular visits help maintain strong family bonds and keep the lines of communication open. Sharing stories, reminiscing about the past, or discussing current events helps your parents feel connected to the world outside their community. These interactions are crucial for preserving family ties and ensuring that your parents continue to feel an integral part of the family.Monitoring Well-being and Care: While senior living communities are designed to cater to the needs of their residents, nobody knows your parents like you do. Visiting allows you to monitor their well-being, ensuring they are healthy, happy, and receiving the proper care. Its also an opportunity to speak with staff and understand any changes in your parents health or behavior, allowing for timely interventions when necessary.Encouraging Socialization and Activity: When you visit, you bring energy and change into your parents routine. You can encourage them to engage in community activities, take them out for a change of scenery, or participate in social events together.This not only breaks the monotony but also encourages your parents to utilize the amenities and social opportunities their new home offers, enhancing their quality of life.Affirming Their Worth and Autonomy: Your visits are a powerful affirmation of your parents worth and autonomy.Affirming the worth and autonomy of elderly parents is vital, especially after they move to a senior living community. This act acknowledges their importance and decision-making power, fostering a sense of self-respect and dignity. By actively involving them in conversations, respecting their choices, and valuing their opinions, you help maintain their sense of identity and self-esteem. Such affirmation is crucial for their emotional well-being and can significantly boost their happiness and willingness to embrace their new living situation.By involving them in decisions, seeking their opinions, and listening to their stories and concerns, youre reinforcing their sense of self and importance. This can be incredibly empowering for elderly individuals, especially those adjusting to life in a senior living community.Visiting your elderly parents after theyve moved into a senior living community is about more than fulfilling a duty; its about nurturing a relationship that continues to evolve and adapt. Your presence can significantly impact their happiness, health, and overall adjustment to their new living situation.So, while life might get busy, remember that a visit to your aging parents is invaluable. Its an act of love and support that resonates deeply, providing comfort and connection during a time of significant change.

The Cost of At-Home Care vs. a Senior Residence

Our parents have always been there for us so when the time comes to care for them, the decision on how to proceed can be heart-wrenching. There are many choices, ranging from becoming their caregiver to finding an assisted living or memory care facility. For many people, at-home care is the best solution for their parents. It is comforting to keep people you love with their family, or in a setting they find familiar. Most people also choose at-home care because they believe that it will be much more affordable than a senior residence. However, there are many variables to consider, and taking care of a parent at home may not be as economical as you assume.We know that there is not one single right answer in these situations. While at-home care is the perfect solution for some families, it may not work for others. When determining the right course of action for your loved one, it is essential to weigh all the alternatives and make the best choice for everyone involved.The Reality of At-Home CareChoosing at-home care may seem like a natural option. You love your parents, and you want them to be comfortable and happy. However, if you have reached this point, it is likely that your loved one needs a caregiver at least in some capacity. This means that either you need to hire a caregiver, or you will act as their caregiver.Hiring a caregiver obviously costs money. However, there are often financial implications when you choose to be a caregiver for your parent, especially if you have to leave a job to do so. Additionally, implementing at-home care often requires specialized medical equipment and home renovations to allow senior adults to safely navigate their environment. These modifications may include installing bathroom grab bars or wheelchair ramps, transforming a downstairs room into a bedroom, or even widening hallways and doorways.Key Takeaway: Whether they stay in their own home or move into yours, there are always expenses to cover as your parent grows older and their needs evolve.The ongoing, day-to-day expenses often surprise those choosing at-home care. You may need to cover transportation costs for appointments, hire someone to perform regular home maintenance, or have meals delivered to ensure your loved one is eating well. Over time, these costs can add up.The Cost of a Senior Care ResidenceAssisted living facilities and memory care centers are considered to be expensive by most people. However, the all-encompassing approach to a seniors lifestyle requires a different perspective to understand.When you pay for these types of residences, it replaces a rent or mortgage payment. There is no more property tax bill or need for property maintenance or upkeep. There are many other services included in assisted living communities, such as:Round-the-Clock Care and Medical Assistance: If a senior needs extensive supervision or care, these costs can become prohibitive at home. Assisted living facilities provide 24/7 access to professional caregivers who can immediately contact medical staff if necessary. This availability guarantees life-saving and timely attention during emergencies, regular monitoring of health issues, and accurate medication management.Physical Therapy, Fitness, and Wellness Programs: Assisted living and memory care facilities often incorporate on-site physical therapy and wellness programs that cater to the needs of individual senior residents. These programs enhance physical health and wellness, which helps to support autonomy for as long as possible. Not only are these programs available, but your loved one will be encouraged to attend by a staff dedicated to ensuring they stay engaged and active.Meals, Housekeeping, and Laundry Services: The all-inclusive nature of a senior residence is also inclusive of daily living requirements. Residents will enjoy nutritious, chef-prepared meals and no longer have to worry about shopping or cooking. They will also enjoy regular laundry and housekeeping services, which often need outside assistance when they still live at home.Emotional Well-being: At-Home Care vs. Senior ResidenceBeyond the financial aspects of senior care, assisted living facilities offer invaluable opportunities for seniors to maintain an active social life making friends, enjoying hobbies, and pursuing interests. When all of the responsibilities of life are being handled, your loved one can truly enjoy their life and spend their days as they wish.Organized Social Activities and Community Engagement: Contemporary assisted living facilities strive to provide a vibrant community where residents can participate in a wide variety of social activities and events. This access to an active lifestyle is often in stark contrast to the loneliness a senior living at home may experience. All of the activities they love and all the people they meet are on the same campus. For those who dont drive or dont want to ask for rides, this can make a radical difference.Call My Care Finders For AdviceAt first glance, at-home care might seem like the more caring or affordable choice. But there are many reasons why families also choose assisted living or memory care. Whatever your choice, we know it is the best one for your family.My Care Finders was established out of a desire to provide professional and compassionate guidance for this emotional decision. If you arent sure about where to turn, call us today. We will listen to you, learn about your family, and provide resources and recommendations to facilitate your decision.

Becoming a Memory Care Advocate

Being a full-time caregiver for a family member with dementia is admirable, but the arrangement isnt always the most beneficial for everyone involved.  The decision to move your loved one into a memory care facility may be an emotional one, but these communities often represent the solution most likely to provide your loved one with the support, companionship, and onsite supervision that they require. Still, many people cannot shake feelings of worry and concern. If you have already placed a parent into a memory care facility, staying actively involved as their care advocate is the best strategy for putting your mind at ease.Family advocacy is vital for those living with dementia or Alzheimers disease. This article will discuss tips and recommendations for communicating with the staff and ensuring quality of care.Educate Yourself About the CommunityUnderstand Daily Routines: Family members should learn as much as they can about the daily routine of the memory care residence including scheduled activities and events, mealtimes, and medication disbursement. Having knowledge about their daily lives can help when assessing your loved ones level of engagement and interaction.Medication Management Protocols: One of the most vital elements of advocacy involves medication management protocols. Be sure to understand the established protocol for administering any medications and confirm that the staff is knowledgeable about specific medication requirements.Interactions with Community Staff: When visiting, pay attention to how administration and staff interact with the residents, including how well and how often they communicate with your loved one. A staff that is compassionate and kind can significantly influence the lives of their residents in a positive way.Safety Measures: It is important to evaluate the established security protocols at the residence. For instance, memory care facilities should offer monitored and secured exits and entrances as part of the design, as they safeguard against dementia-related wandering.Condition of the Residence: Take note of living and facility conditions, including the cleanliness of common areas and the overall appearance of the building. A clean and well-kept environment benefits the overall health and well-being of community residents.Advocate By Communicating with the StaffInitiate the Conversation: Establish a relationship with personnel to maintain open lines of communication. Set routine meetings to advocate for your loved one, raise any concerns, and stay informed about any needed or proposed modifications to the residents care plan.Present Clear Concerns: Be as detailed as possible when addressing concerns or clarifying observations. Be sure to carefully document any changes in behavior or specific incidents so the staff can hear and respond effectively.Listen Carefully: Listen to what the staff has to say, as they are privy to the majority of your family members experience. Insights from an experienced staff will provide valuable information and identify possible solutions.Ask Pertinent Questions: Be bold when asking any necessary questions about your loved ones care plan. Youll need to understand the medical and facility policies to properly advocate on their behalf.Track Progression of Memory Loss: Educate yourself about the specific phases of impairment so that you can better understand what your loved one is experiencing and address the relevant challenges they face. Setting practical expectations at each phase can help you to realistically advocate for their level of care.Learn About Their Medications: One of the most serious aspects of being an advocate is to learn as much as possible about your loved ones medications such as potential side effects, dosage requirements, and effects on cognitive function.Identify Patterns of Behavior: There are specific behavioral patterns associated with cognitive impairment, and understanding the triggers for these behaviors can establish effective coping strategies.Create Support Networks: By getting involved with support groups and counseling services, families advocating for their loved ones can find emotional support, insight, and camaraderie with others in similar circumstances.My Care Finders is a Valuable AdvocateThe professional team at My Care Finders works with Florida families to identify the best memory care facility for their situation and budget. We get to know you, advocate for you, and ensure that you have all the information you need to make the best possible decision.

Local Services By This Author

Encompass Health

Rehabilitation Services 6400 Edgelake Dr., Sarasota, Florida, 34240

At Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota, we are dedicated to two fundamental principles: the progress our patients make and the outcomes they achieve. Our commitment to excellence is reflected in our industry-leading performance scores, which demonstrate our unwavering focus on your recovery and well-being.When you arrive at our hospital, we will conduct a comprehensive assessment known as Functional Outcome Measures to determine the level of assistance you require for basic tasks. This assessment serves as a baseline to measure your progress throughout your rehabilitation journey. Based on this evaluation, your rehabilitation team will collaborate with you to establish challenging yet achievable goals and develop a customized treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.Throughout your stay, we will closely monitor your progress, adjusting your treatment plan as needed to optimize your outcomes. Before you discharge from our hospital, we will conduct a follow-up assessment to evaluate the extent of your improvement and ensure that you have the knowledge and resources necessary to continue your recovery journey beyond our walls.Our commitment to quality care is further underscored by our accreditation from the Joint Commission, symbolized by our prestigious Gold Seal of Approval. This accreditation serves as a testament to our adherence to rigorous standards of safety, effectiveness, and patient-centered care.At Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota, your well-being is our top priority, and we are honored to be your partner in achieving your rehabilitation goals.