Thanks Anne, and I know just what you mean about the shopping - it's so difficult trying to find things to tempt elderly people who've lost their appetite (Dad) or have trouble swallowing (Mum). One thing I did some time back was to start doing my parents' shopping online once a week. I find it very convenient as most weeks I'm ordering the same few staple foods/drinks that I know will get eaten/drunk, so I can do a repeat of last week's order but then add on a few bits and pieces to try to tempt them. Also, it saves me one more visit.
Things have changed quite a bit since I last posted. I accepted the 6 week aftercare package, which involved a carer calling every morning to help Dad wash/dress, take his meds and have some breakfast. The problem was, they couldn't guarantee the same carer would visit each day, nor could they give any indication of what time the person would call - it could be any time between 7 and 11am! My father is not an early riser, so was often still in bed when they called and many times refused to get up, so the visits were next to useless. In the end the visits were causing more problems than they were solving as Dad resented a never ending stream of strangers arriving at different times each morning, so I cancelled them.
Meanwhile, by chance I got to know of a very nice, experienced carer who had recently moved into a house just a few doors away from my parents. She had been doing care work for years, but had had to take a job she hated when she moved into the area a few weeks back, so was hoping to get back into care work. She has a lovely personality and is both kind and caring. She's also quite attractive, which probably helps when dealing with elderly men.
. Dad liked her instantly, so to cut a long story short we are now paying her to care for my father every morning and afternoon, to give him meds, breakfast and afternoon/early evening meals and generally encourage him to wash/change his clothes etc. She is working about 14 hours a week for Dad, and during that time he has begun to perk up and his appetite has slowly begun to return.
The carer has even started doing the occasional fried breakfast as a treat for Dad, which he loves, and she has got him interested in doing crosswords with her (something he'd never been interested in before). So, things are on an even keel now, and I'm thanking my lucky stars that the right carer came along at just the right time. I've learned that the right person for 2 or 3 hours a day can work wonders, but I realise that as Dad's dementia progresses he may need a LOT more help eventually.
One thing that I'm finding a bit hard to get used to is the fact that I no longer have to visit my parents every day... in fact I could probably get away with just visiting them once a week, which is a real shock to my system!
Suddenly I have much more free time on my hands, which is great, although I do have a tendency to wonder what's going on round there on the days I don't visit. Also, as I've watched the effect the professional carer has had on my father, I've sometimes felt like a failure, because she seems to have so much more patience and imagination in the way she handles my father - she just knows how to bring the best out in him, whereas I just didn't have the knack. Still, we've never had the best relationship, so I know it's silly to dwell on this, but I wish things had been different. Like somebody posted before, when carers come in the situation changes radically, for the better in lots of ways, but the emotional stuff is still there. Anyway, I'm very relieved we've found the right person to care for my father. It's been a massive change for both of us but I'm still getting used to the fact that my visits are now surplus to requirements.