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Living with an aging parent

On July 31, 2009 I became the caregiver to my 94-year old mother who now lives with me and my husband. It took a lot of adjusting, but there were no other alternatives available. My mother had simply outlived her money and her long-term care insurance. The family had exhausted its resources. So my mother came to live with me (67) and my husband (76). It is an odd role, mothering one's mother when she is not able to live independently nor make decisions for her care. My mother is not happy with the situation but accepts it. As she says, "What other choices do I have?" Being a caretaker is a very confining role. My mother has fallen several times, and had an emergency situation requiring a night in the hospital. As my husband said to a friend calling to see if we would like to meet them for a quick dinner, "We can no longer be spontaneous."

May 3, 2010 - 11:52pm

Loretta

Susan, Being a caregiver can be such a difficult thing and very often something unexpected and not planned for, yet many of us face it, often because we have no other choice. I've read somewhere that at least 25 percent of us wind up being caregivers at some time during our lives. I'm 63 and about four years ago I found myself to be the caregiver of my adult son who became seriously mentally ill, so I can well relate to being a caregiver and the exhaustion and strain involved. Caregiver burnout is so common and is something us caregivers have to work at to avoid. So here's what I learned: No matter how busy you are, find time for yourself, and quiet time is especially important whether it's for prayer or mediation or just listening to quiet music or however you find peace, and find support with others who are going through the same thing. With the support of others, not only will you find a place to vent and a well-needed understanding and sympathetic heart, but you will find others going through the same situation a great resource for information as to where to get help with your needs and the needs of your mother. For instance, in my county there's a respite house where caregivers can stay for free and volunteers will come in to your home and take care of your ill family members while you get a break. In my case I joined NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health), became educated by NAMI for free on the subject so I was better able to deal with doctors and meet my son's needs with much less frustration and then eventually became an advocate and also trained as a family support group facilitator, and in supporting other families found I was gaining support for myself. Of course your situation is somewhat different and so for you it would be being involved in a different organization, but I know there are many caregiver support groups out there of all kinds and they are a blessing. Do not ever hesitate to reach out for help. Check with Health and Human Services in your state and see what services they offer for the elderly. Often you can get at least a part-time health aide without charge. You can find a lot of this stuff out on the Net. Here is one website that gives some information on the subject as an example: http://www.caregiver.com/ I'll keep you and your family in my prayers.

May 4, 2010 - 4:29pm

Roberta

Susan, I can certainly identify with you. I was my father's caretaker for five years, until he died at the age of 97. I brought him to my home because I couldn't bring myself to put him into a nursing home. My oldest son had just graduated college and was looking for a job and living at home for at least the first six months after my father moved in. My daughter was away at college but coming home many weekends and, of course, for vacations. My husband was around, sharing this burden of love with me. There were times during that five years that I thought my father was going to put me into a nursing home, but somehow we all managed, and looking back, I feel good about what we did, it was definitely the right thing for my family as I am sure it is for yours. It's very frustrating on a day-to-day basis to have an elderly person in your space. You and your husband should be careful to put aside some time for yourselves. "Me" time is essential. Also, perhaps you can find a day care type of facility that your mother could go to several times a week. That would be enjoyable for her and it would free up some of your time. I don't know where you live, but most communities have community centers or Y's that have that type of facility. Now that I'm a little older I'm very comforted by the fact that my children saw me take such good care of their grandfather. Time passes quickly and I can only pray that should either my husband or I need assistance as we grow older, that my children will follow the example that was set for them. Good luck. Roberta

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