At 70 I never dreamed I would be taking care of my 90-year-old mother, but it just goes to show you that we are not in charge of our destiny. Whatever God has for us is what we will get, and it is up to us to embrace it, knowing that He will provide us with whatever we need.
In November, 2008 I was stricken with Occipital Neuralgia and had to retire from my job. When it was time for me to move my mother to Ohio, my condition was 80 percent better. If I had still been employed, it would have been very difficult for me to take care of my mother.
At 90, my mother has a great sense of humor, is feisty and has lots of wisdom. Her short-term memory is not good and she walks with the help of a walker, but that's not bad at her age. It is important that I keep a level head and not take anything personally! I only need one answer because she repeats the same thing all day, so I just type it on a sheet of paper and she refers to it. Wow, this helps!
This care is full time, so my husband and I plan whatever we need to do around her care. It is a blessing when you have a spouse that loves your mother and welcomes her into your home. I can't imagine what it would be like if this were not the case. Making her feel welcome and not like she is a burden is most important. Even with the love we give her, she sometimes cries and says she doesn't want to be a problem or she'll say: "Perhaps I need to go into a nursing home." Reassurance is a daily thing.
I really laughed out loud when she said, "Now you know I'm claustrophobic, so when I die, make sure you do not let them put the top down on the casket." Guess what? She was serious!
There are days when I become a bit frustrated and must take a break by going into another room and getting on the computer. Saying an extra prayer always helps!
Our parents are living longer so it is important that we take care of our health, set aside extra money and reconcile in our minds that the day might come when we become caregivers. By the way, I didn't do this! But, with the help of God, my friends and my family, it is working out.
I have three sisters that give me support, and when I really need a break, they come to my rescue. However, mother makes it very clear that she only wants to live with me, so I try to keep her three months at a time. An ideal situation would be two months and then take a break for a week or 10 days. This is not always possible and I really do not like to move her around from place to place and make her feel as if she is a burden. So, these are the kind of things one must think about when taking care of an elderly person. They are very sensitive!
Many times, I wish there were a caregiver's support center. A place where you could go for a mini-massage, sit in a quiet room for prayer or meditation, watch TV or chat with other caregivers. I researched this kind of support center and have not been able to find anything quite like it. I have shared the idea with other caregivers and even a doctor that works with hospice patients. All felt it was a great idea. It is important that the caregivers are taken care of so we do not end up in the hospital or unable to take care of our loved ones.
Story submitted for the Ohio Department of Aging's Family Caregiving Story Project.
For caregiver assistance, please call your area agency on aging at 1-866-243-5678.
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