A Christchurch based family is determined to help their Mum stay in her own home and live an independent life.
Mum is a strong and determined person. She passed her independence onto me and my siblings. She is very creative; a musician, and she also ran a successful business well into her seventies. Since dad died, she’s shown a lot of courage to stay in her own home and fight for that independence. The challenges of this path have been immense.
She struggles with short term memory loss and becomes confused about time and place. She also has a sense that she’s no longer contributing. Mum sometimes mentions how she would like to be teaching again.
Her focus has always been family. There is now a natural focus for the family to support her. Having her family around helps her peace of mind, she recognises us, and we are there on a daily basis to help. I love to play music with her too, she plays the piano while I play my violin. She probably recognises more in the musical language than in the verbal these days. But to be honest, the most important thing is that we are present with our Mum.
When I lived up north I would arrange to spend at least one week every month with her. My brother who lives and works locally was able to make nightly visits to help with meals and to keep her company. Soon Mum had support from a great group of carers who would check she was safe in her home. At the beginning it worked well. But, as Mum required more support, it became a challenge for us to find more time to be there. We saw areas of her life becoming diminished and ultimately, the arrangement we had became a struggle. Moving cities and moving in with Mum meant I could take some of the load off my brother as well as making sure someone was home overnight. I still wanted to work part time, so we decided to get a carer on the days I go to work. We were unsure about how we could find a compatible carer, so we asked friends and family for ideas. Our neighbour asked a nurse friend what she thought. That nurse told her about the Mycare website.
You’re never quite sure what to expect when trying a new service. But I was relieved to find like-minded people who wanted to support Mum staying in her home. For us, it was the final link. Our plan to fully support Mum became a reality. By finding the right carer, we have been able to maintain her independence and her quality of life. That’s all we could ever hope for.
This family have asked to remain anonymous.
Story and photographs by Chrissy Irvine.