Doreen from California

I am the sole caregiver for my mother Dorothy Hurley. I have two siblings; one lives in Maryland, and the other wrestles with homelessness, alcoholism and drug abuse. My mother is completely dependent on others for the activities of daily living. She is 87 years old and unable to feed or dress herself. She is incontinent and wears diapers that must be changed regularly. She suffers from dementia and is an insulin-dependent diabetic (for over 62 years). She is also legally blind due to diabetes and long-standing glaucoma. She had a hip fracture four years ago and severed from osteoarthritis, which causes her pain when moving. She is unable to bear weight to walk. I am unable to work full-time because someone needs to attend to my mother 24 hours a day. I sleep with a baby monitor and added an app on my phone that lets me watch a live video stream of my mother and her room when I must leave her with others.

I live with her and I take care of her 7 days a week. I get assistance from my daughter, who also lives with us, but she works two jobs and is a full-time college student. I bath, dress, feeds, and give her medications, including insulin injections. I also closely monitor her blood pressure, which fluctuates. I hired a woman to come in our home 2 days a week, for 8 hours total so that I can work part-time outside of the home. I only work part-time because my primary job is taking care of my mom. Professionally, I am a caregiver to a disabled adult. He is blind and attends the Braille Institute and has ADHD. His mother has dementia. He is being displaced and was evicted from his home of 25 years due to his mom’s illness. Prior to my current job, I worked full-time at non-pro?ts as a childcare subsidy grant manager of federal/state funds awarded to families with young children.

In 1995, my mother retired from teaching after 30 years. She taught numerous grades and ended up teaching learning disabled children in the Hacienda-La Puente United School District (California). By the time she retired, she could no longer drive due to her blindness causes by diabetes. My caregiving duties started with driving her 30 miles, from her home in Los Angeles to her job in La Puente. From there I would drive my daughter to school in Santa Monica, California. My mother’s advancing medical condition sometimes led to diabetic hypoglycemic episodes while traveling the bus back to Los Angeles. She was forced to retire in 2006 due to her medical condition. Since then, she has needed higher levels of care each year, especially after she was diagnosed with memory issues in 2012.

Some of the challenges I am facing are the loss of work and income because of lack of dependable, qualifed caregivers; and inability to fund/pay caregivers to come into the home to provide necessary services. Extreme fatigue and exhaustion because I am the primary caregiver is also a huge factor. Currently, I am unable to accept a full-time job because my mother needs constant attention; she eats a pureed food diet, that can take an hour to finish. Her insulin control is very “brittle”.

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