Keeping your loved one safe is the primary goal of the Caregiver. But how far will you go to do it? I was willing to go as far as I had to in order to know that my Dad was safe while I was not around.
A few summers ago, Dad moved in with my husband and I just before he had cataract surgery. My sister and I felt that our home was the best place for him recover because we had a first floor bath and bedroom. So far so good, right.
Both my husband and I worked. The first week after the surgery, I stayed home with him but I eventually had to go back to work. We then hired a Home Care Agency to stay with him for about six more weeks.
Dad was eventually released by the Eye Surgeon. His vision improved enough that he was able to get around much better so we felt having the Home Care Agency "baby sit" him during the day was no longer needed. I thought that now that he could see, he'll be fine staying alone while I'm at work. Well, this turned into a short lived thought very quickly.
I was calling Dad every few hours to check in with him to see how he was doing. Then one day, Dad did not pick up the phone. I kept calling but no answer. Eventually I panicked so I left work to run home. I was thinking the worse during the ride home until I got there to find that the reason he wasn't answering the phone because he left it in another room.
The worrying came to work with me everyday. It started to interfere with my job. I'd spend most of my work day worrying about him. I'd call him, but sometimes he would not answer! Oh no, here we go again. Did he fall? Did something happen to him? Did he have another stroke? So I would end up leaving work again, drive home in a panic and come to find he was either outside taking a walk, taking a nap, or just in the bathroom.
I knew I had to find a way to solve this problem. I thought a good idea was having friends come by to look in on him. That lasted for about a few days until I realized that as much as my friends wanted to help me, they were just not reliable and became more of a problem for me. Everyday I found my self scrambling to find a different friend to check in on him. Clearly this was not the best solution for me.
The challenge I needed to overcome was finding a way of knowing that my Dad was fine throughout the day. Evidently, the solutions I was attempting to implement were not the right ones for me and my situation. Therefore, I had to keep searching until I found the best one for my situation which turned out to be installing webcams in our home.
Installing them was easy. I installed four of them in space where he hung out the most - the kitchen, family room, study and the garage. This was the perfect solutions for me to check in on him throughout the day to make sure he was fine.
What wasn't easy about doing this was the guilt I felt. Did I tell my Dad that I did this? No, I didn't. Did I struggle in making this uncomfortable decision? Did I feel like I was spying on him? Did I worry that maybe he could see the lights flashing on webcam when I was looking in on him? Yes to all of those questions, but in my mind this decision was justified. The webcams gave me the peace of mind to know my Dad was safe which allowed me to go to work and to be at work without having to run home all the time.
Is the Caregiver spying or caring by installing webcameras? Are you violating the privacy of the person you are caring for? Should they be told that webcameras are in the home?
The #EmpoweredCaregiver must learn how to assess the environment of the person you are caring for and then implement the best solutions to achieve the primary goal - keeping them as safe as possible. There are going to be so many things for the Caregiver to worry about so making difficult decisions like these are just part of the job.
We knew Dad would not be happy about webcams in the home. We felt extremely awkward about it. However, as Dad's Caregivers, my sister and I had to reconcile with this decision. We felt that we'd rather live with knowing that we did everything possible to keep him safe rather than do nothing because we were worry about privacy issues and have something happen to him that the webcam could have prevented.
What I learned about being my Dad's Caregiver is that he is my responsibility, not my friends'. Friends may offer to help but they are not part of the Care Plan. It is the Caregiver's job to keep their loved one safe and comfortable.
The #EmpoweredCaregiver must go through the process of becoming as informed as possible before making a decision. At the end of the day, before you put your head on your pillow the Empowered Caregiver must only answer to is yourself. Make the best decision possible given the situation and be ready to move on. Tomorrow will be waiting for you with a new set of challenges and we will be right here to help you through them.