During the final 10 years of my grandmother’s life, she was cared for by my Aunt Shirley, who did a fantastic job and kept her alive far longer than expected. This constant care took a toll on my aunt though, and she quickly had to put a few things in place to ensure she didn’t go crazy and broke caring for her mother.
Here are a few things she did:
A) Aunt Shirley wasn’t working by the time Nana began needing full-time care, but they both lived on fixed incomes that were not enough to cover the added cost of elderly care. She told my father and uncle exactly how much she was short each month, and exactly what was needed for my grandmother. Clearly understanding the need and financial gap, both contributed financially.
B) State and local services. They lived in Florida, which provides a great deal of senior support services. By doing some research, Aunt Shirley was able to get Nana a hospital bed, a few essential supplies, and in-home hospice support services at a fraction of the normal cost (sometimes free). Florida is exceptional when it comes to Senior Care, but more states are doing what they can to help its elderly residents age in place.
C) Part-time nursing care. Taking care of an elderly family member is exhausting and after a while, Aunt Shirley had to start injecting breaks for her own mental health. Since all other family members were either working or didn’t live nearby, she sought out part-time nurses who specialized in elder care (this was also somewhat subsidized by the state). But beware: many of these nurses were not providing Nana with proper care (elder abuse is real), so Aunt Shirley went through several until she found one she felt confident with. Monitor their practices thoroughly, and be sure it aligns with the care you, your family and the doctor have agreed to.
Because of Aunt Shirley's diligence, Nana improved so much that she was removed from hospice care, something that rarely happens. She lived to be 104 years and passed away in peace.
And so it is.