An outbreak hits your parents long term care home, and then it got even more real. How prepared are you?
Caring For Your Ageing Parent!
Caring for an ageing parent during a pandemic is challenging. Especially if you own a business. In Part 1 I shared how stressful things can be when your child is hospitalized by COVID. What about when your parent is affected?
Throughout 2020 I grew accustomed to the many changes we have been asked to adhere to. For the most part everything has been fine for me. But things did change considerably with my dad, who is living in a long term care facility. The staff at his home have been amazing in keeping us connected to our loved ones but they’ve been seemingly on high alert for over a year now. We’ve all heard all through 2020 of the risks at long term care facilitates and of the tragedies when outbreaks run rampant through them. So through much of 2020 I was on high alert too, as were my sisters. It just stays with you, all the time. My inner voice throwing up “what ifs” every time another outbreak happens or the phone rings and I look to see it’s from my dad’s facility.
At my dad’s place they started a process of FaceTime calls very regularly so we could visit online. It was an adjustment for my dad but he got used to it and it became fine. For a while we could still go visit in person outdoors but it was limited. No problem. At least we got to visit.
We even had much of our family visit him for his birthday in summer but it was through a window. I could feel it wearing on me, could sense it a bit in my dad and my family too. But we all wanted to make sure he stayed healthy and was safe.
A First Outbreak Scare
Then the first scare came. A positive case of COVID. It felt like a sudden wake up call. What would happen? Was my parent going to be okay? Thankfully they caught it quickly, isolated the person and took all necessary precautions. No further spread. Whew!
Once again we lulled back into routine but the inner voice chatter continued. With each email update I received or each call from the home I had a little twinge of fear wondering if it was something bad.
A Second Outbreak Scare
A second scare came a while later. This time it was a kitchen staff member and dad had to isolate because he was in the dining area and could have possibly been impacted. Now the worry escalated for me. Not knowing how bad it was and knowing how quickly and easily it could spread weighed on my mind a lot.
I could feel it deflecting my focus at work and impacting my sleep. Hearing of a second case just amplified it all. It took a number of days, and several messages, but the staff once again contained things and my dad was not affected. A small weight lifted from my shoulder.
Into the fall it became too cold to visit in person outdoors so screen time was it. During all that time I would continue to hear of big outbreaks in other facilities in town and across the country. Many were devastated by COVID and many lives were lost as a result. At one point I recall hearing that all but 2 facilities in Edmonton were under an outbreak status. Dad’s was one of the two that was not. I was so grateful for the hard work all of the staff at his home did to keep things that way.
We continued with the routine of visiting online. Christmas was quiet and different but we started some new traditions and enjoyed it all the same. Then one day I got notice of another positive test. This time a resident. It was someone on a different wing and on a different floor so I felt a bit relieved. That feeling didn’t last. Almost immediately it went from 1 to 3 to several people including some staff.
In times of challenge, taking care of yourself enables you to more fully be there for others in need.
And Then It Got Real With My Parent
For me it was the moment it spread to my dad’s floor and his wing of the home. Constant fear for my dad and his health. Daily compassion for those who lost their lives and the families they left behind. Daily worry that my dad could be next. It was a terrible thing to have happen but I needed to be there for my dad in some way, to be in contact with the staff, and to be there for my sisters and their families as we all hoped for the best.
Needless to say it impacted my ability to work at times even more so than before. Thankfully though, I have designed my business and took steps long ago so that I could have the flexibility I needed during times like these.
That flexibility meant I could be available whenever I was needed for my dad or to talk with the staff at his home. That flexibility also meant I could take whatever steps I needed to take care of myself so I was ready to be there when called upon.
Having nurtured a family culture of mutual support and understanding also meant that I could lean on my wife or daughter when I needed to or my sisters when I needed them as well. It was not a one guy show of support.
I’ve been down that road before and it did not go well.
Thankfully the outbreak at my dad’s home ended. Not without loss. Not without hardship. And thankfully my dad remains healthy and is now fully vaccinated.
Are You Ready For When Your Parent Needs You?
When caring for an ageing parent and also balancing caring for your children in this sandwich generation you just never know when a next crisis might come.
Are you ready?
I asked these questions in part 1 of this post and I’ll ask them again here.
It’s important to begin now to take the steps you need to so that you can have a clear answer for each of these questions and be truly be ready to be in service of those you love should some form of crisis come again.
Become clear of your answer to these:
- How can your business carry on without you there?
- Who can step in to care for your other children at home?
- Who can step in to care for your parents?
- Who do you have to help care for you and your needs during a time like this?
Don’t Wait Thinking It Won’t Happen To You
Significant health issues are often not something that you can predict, especially with an ageing parent. It’s like insurance. You need to take steps to be ready for when it gets real.
Waiting until it hits is simply too late.
Need some help with this? Join us in our One Wave Global Community. We support one another to create change to handle things when it gets real!