Caregiving has been the single most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, but it has also been the most rewarding.
My mom and dad are in their 70′s and both have chronic health conditions, particularly my mother. She is confined to bed or chair in the same room of her home (thankfully, she is still able to be at home). Her health problems are many – she is in pain much of the time, but her attitude is the stuff of legends. Because she is so positive, it really helps me to stay upbeat most of the time, too. We laugh and joke as we go about the mundane day to day chores and play games (the kind that boost cognition.) She is and always will be my “shero” and I feel so honored to be her caregiver. After all, she has cared for me for 50 years!
I am fortunate to have a sister who doubles as an R.N.!! Admittedly, she bears the brunt of the “doctory” stuff while I keep the laundry up and the healthy meals on the bedside table. We are an awesome team and I tell her all the time that I feel sorry for anyone who isn’t us in this scenario and I am deadly serious. I couldn’t imagine bearing this all alone.
For the past three years I have actively sought out websites such as this one, local groups for similar support, and the laughter of good friends over a glass of wine at our weekly summertime patio parties. I can honestly say that every second of respite has made the biggest impact on my daily mental health.
Believe me, I still get so down from time to time – especially when the helplessness feelings creep in. I work a part time job and have my own home and marriage to tend to, but through the grace of God, my family and my friends (and this and other awesome websites), I have learned to take care of myself in the craziness of taking care of my parents.
Today, I do a cardio workout for 30 minutes every day, walk when our weather permits, have a standing “date” with 12 friends from high school to play trivia or karaoke or just go out for a night of jazz or blues. I have three cats that absolutely soak up whatever love I still have at the end of the day but after cuddling and playing with them, I find my strength and capacity for love has been magically restored.
I am lucky to have my parents with me, and I want to stay as healthy as I can, (physically and mentally) so that I can be there for them.
For all of you walking this valley, I will pray for you and for your loved ones. We are in this together and while it might not be the club of our first choosing, we are fortunate to share it with others who care.