The Reluctant Caregivers: Learning to Care for a Loved One with Alzheimer's

By Anne Hendershott | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Creating a Safe Environment

“Just for the summer ” … that was supposed to be the duration of our caregiving. In fact, we did not even originally define Katharine’s visit that summer as an opportunity for us to provide caregiving. Instead, the plan was for Katharine to be with us just long enough to complete the diagnostic testing process. We thought that once the evaluation was completed, and a care plan developed for her own home, she would once again return to Santa Cruz with additional support. In anticipation of her return home, we had already inquired about home care services. We envisioned a friendly home health aide arriving at Katharine’s Santa Cruz door each morning to help her with personal care, cooking, shopping, and light housekeeping.

We also anticipated that our lives would again return to the routines we had so enjoyed before Katharine’s arrival. Yet, once we had the opportunity to see on a day-to-day basis how impaired she was, and how totally unable to live on her own, we knew we had to consider options other than her return to Santa Cruz. We realized that Katharine needed someone with her twenty-four hours a day! In this way, we joined so many other reluctant caregivers who are surprised to find themselves in the middle of a caregiving career that they had never before considered.

In our early caregiving days, we severely underestimated how much supervision Katharine would need. She moved in with us in late spring, and I thought that I could still leave her alone in the house for short pe-

-31-

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