R. Jones: A Caregiver's Story
Five years ago, my 86-year-old father was falling ill. He had fallen a few times as a result of a stroke and was living alone in Newport News, Virginia. When I realized my father needed direct care as a result of his cardiovascular disease, I quit my job and brought him to Baltimore to live with me. At that point, I became the sole caregiver of my father. Since his first stroke in 2003, he has suffered three more and has also been diagnosed with diabetes. His last stroke affected his vision, so we must also deal with his sight impairment.
I assist my father with his personal care, provide him with his medications, take him to doctor's appointments, and to spiritual activities. My wife assists me with his meals every day.
My father goes to Easter Seals Daycare three days per week for three hours per day. He is covered under Medicare. And, he recently became eligible for Medicaid, which will provide support for additional days at Easter Seals Daycare. This assistance will help tremendously in caring for my father.
Since becoming my father's caregiver, I have had to start living on a schedule, instead of being spontaneous — which I prefer. My personal activities are limited as I need to be continually available for my father's needs. At times, I've forgotten that I need to take care of my health, too. So I'm now starting to do that, in addition to watching over my father's health.
As a caregiver, I would benefit from more consistent help and home care for my father. We are thrilled that my father will have more consistent care, thanks to Medicaid. The increase in medical benefits from Medicaid will help my father become familiar with his sitter and we will all be more comfortable letting individuals into our home.
For respite, my wife and I occasionally take weekend trips. Either my son will care for my father while we are away or we make arrangements for my father through the Alzheimer's Foundation's respite program. Once we receive full coverage from Medicaid, it will cover the respite program. This is a tremendous benefit for my father and my family. We are able to find services for both my father's care, and are able to take breaks for our own health and well-being.
We are grateful that both Medicare and Medicaid have been so helpful in the care of my father. I think that the Ask Medicare web site will be very useful in helping us learn more about caring for my father and for ourselves.