Why are you a caregiver?
Did you choose your role? Did you weigh carefully the pros and cons, then decide based upon a rational, thoughtful process? Maybe you made a list of reasons why you should care for your elderly parent. Did a measure of guilt guide your choice?
Most caregivers are either thrust into the role, or gently coast into it through a series of circumstances. Perhaps your aging loved one began having difficulty remembering important things like turning off the stove, or where he lives.
Did your parent stumble, break a hip, then need constant supervision to prevent another fall?
Whatever the reason for your caregiver role, sometimes it’s helpful to return to the beginning.
In my case, since my dad’s death six years ago, my mom has slowly lost her ability to see and to hear. She can’t (or won’t) cook for herself. If left to her own devices, she’ll eat a piece of cake for breakfast, a Danish for lunch, and a peanut butter sandwich for dinner.
She can’t drive, so she needs someone to take her to the numerous doctor’s appointments every month. And on errands. And to get her nails done. And to the grocery store. And…
I wasn’t thrust into the role of caregiver, I slid into it, mostly by my own choice. I started by asking Mom to come down to our house for dinner a few nights a week. When she began to have excruciating back pain, I offered to take dinner to her. Over the years, this has evolved into a seven-night-a-week habit. I cook dinner at home, then carry it down to her house. My husband and I eat there, clean up, then return home.
When we broached the subject of having a couple of nights off, there was a meltdown of epic proportions.
As I look back over the progression of caregiving, I see it’s been a series of baby steps to get where I am today.
How would you describe your caregiving journey? Were you catapulted into caregiving, or like me, did you gently slide into the role?
If you had it to do over again, would you change anything? One thing I’d change is I’d set some boundaries early on. I’d make an agreement with my husband about how many nights we’d take dinner to my mom’s, and stick to it. I’d be sure not to promise to do more than I reasonably could, given my work and writing schedule.
I’d find someone to help carry the burden of running errands and taking Mom to doctor’s appointments. I’d ask for help.
Above all, I’m grateful to be able to care for my ninety-two year old mother. Her days are numbered, and I’m privileged to provide comfort, care, and fellowship for her.
Why are you a caregiver?