Kimberly Mickens: A Caregiver's Story
Since May 2007 I have been caring for mother who is 80 years old and has Alzheimer's disease. I have seven siblings, but I am really the only one involved in my mother's care. I also took care of my father before he died.
My mother was living in a nursing home for some time, but the level of care there was not satisfactory. She got pneumonia after three months in the nursing home and that has continued to cause problems since she has come to live with me. I now have to bathe her and help her with other basic life skills on a daily basis.
I am my mother's caregiver seven days a week. I also work two jobs. The additional financial obligations I have taken on since becoming her primary caregiver made it necessary for me to take a second job in order to meet my mortgage payments. My mother is in a daycare program on weekdays which enables me to keep working.
A nurse attends to my mother ten hours a week and also sometimes on the weekends. She is a great help, but I have to pay for her services out of my own pocket. Through a waiver program, there is also a social worker who comes every three months to see how my mother is doing. Insurance coverage through Medicare and Medicaid helps to pay for the medical equipment that my mother needs.
For me, the most difficult part of being a caregiver is dealing with the fact that my mother, who raised me, is no longer an independent person. And my biggest frustration is not having more help to give her the care she needs. I can run errands when the nurse is on duty, but otherwise I have no time for myself.
Right now, I find most of my information on the Alzheimer's Association Web site. I receive their newsletters and email notifications, and I use their hotline. I have also attended a few caregiver workshops in Baltimore, Maryland.
I hope that the Ask Medicare Web site will be able to point me toward additional community resources where I live so that I can find ways to ease the stress I feel now.