Published on October 15, 2012

Taking care of mom

Celebrating National Caregivers Month with a story of loving care

Elaine CradleCaring for a senior loved one can be very rewarding. Karen Middleton knows this is true. Karen works a full-time job and lovingly takes care of her mother, Elaine Cradle, who is 77 and suffers from dementia and kidney disease.

With dementia, Ms. Cradle has trouble understanding the world around her. Three days a week of kidney dialysis leave her worn out. She lives on her own, but she needs help 24 hours a day, every day.

Prayer and Patience

Taking care of mom has meant a life change for Karen. At the start of her day as a sanitation enforcement officer, Karen calls her mother to check in. After work, she cooks dinner and puts her mother to bed. Karen makes sure that bills are paid and that food is in the house. She helps organize her mom’s medical care and social visits. Ms. Cradle loves going out to eat and Karen takes her out every Sunday for a meal.

Family members help out, but Ms. Cradle is always on Karen’s mind. “As a caregiver, you are always on call,” says Karen. “It takes prayer and patience, and you learn as you go. My mom is a priority for me.”

Help from Mercy LIFE

Karen says her mother would probably be in a nursing home without the help of Mercy LIFE. Mercy LIFE is a program that allows seniors to live on their own. Ms. Cradle gets transportation to a LIFE Day Center three days a week. There, she has hot meals and activities with other seniors. Her LIFE doctor, nurses, social worker and therapists are there, as well. They will call Karen with any news or concerns.

At home, a home health aide helps Ms. Cradle get ready in the morning, and helps her return safely from the center or dialysis in the afternoon. “My mom loves going to the LIFE Day Center,” says Karen. “As a caregiver, it’s such a relief to me.”

Family Involvement

LIFE works hard to involve the whole family. In Ms. Cradle’s case, social worker Diana Hill, MSW, called a family meeting. The LIFE team explained how everyone could help out.

“Our team really reaches out to the family,” says Mercy LIFE’s Manager of Clinical Quality and Education, Kimberly B. Nelson, MS, MBA, RN. “The caregivers get to know our doctors, nurses and social workers. And they can call us with questions, 24 hours a day, every day.”

“I highly recommend the LIFE program,” Karen says. “I truly appreciate the care that they give my mom. Mercy LIFE is a blessing to me.”