Thanks to everyone who had good ideas about what to do for my folks that are getting up there in years. It turns out that there are lots and lots of resources just like the ones I was looking for: agencies that screen, train, and bond workers to help seniors out and allow them to stay in their homes longer. My folks are lucky that they live in a densely populated area, with lots of resources. Here are a couple links for folks in the San Mateo County, and here is a starting place to find care throughout California. It turns out they have just what I thought my folks needed: someone to check in, have a chat, maybe tidy up the dishes, drive them around to do errands and grocery shopping, remind them to take meds, and keep loved ones posted on how things are going. Weekly visits would be about $500/month, as far as I can tell without making any calls.
Unfortunately, we might be needing more than this level of care, as my mom was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I hate to even write this and be public about it, for all sorts of reasons: 1) it seems like a sympathy beg, which wounds my pride, 2) maybe it’s too personal, and 3) it’s too serious–how can I post a funny or snarky post after this? Oh my god, her mother has Alzheimer’s and she’s writing about dog farts? She is a monster!
Nevertheless, this terrible diagnosis means (among so many other things I am not even able to contemplate just yet) that I have a new role to fill: the well-intentioned-yet-too-far-away daughter, who can only provide the most insufficient support to my sister and dad, who are in the trenches. The situation in my family is so cliché: the upwardly mobile daughter who moves away, the working-class daughter who is stuck close to home, working two jobs, and now has to take on a caregiver role. The resentment, the guilt. While my sister is waiting tables, I sit in my armchair and write this post. Yesterday, on the phone, my sister asked me to move back there and help her out. I won’t. I do feel like a monster.
And then, when I talked to my mom on the phone, I realized that she is not much different from the last time we talked. She is stressed out that she can’t remember things, embarrassed that she is “stupid,” and totally unaware that she has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Although she may need to move into a care facility sometime, it’s probably not now. I have a lot more research to do, and I suppose this is one of the only ways I can support my sister. Hopefully, she’ll want to hear about what I find out. Most times, the class difference between my family and me gets framed as my being a know-it-all, so maybe my finding out more stuff won’t be as helpful as I imagine.