Caregiving – No Place For The Weak

My apologies for not blogging recently – it’s been a hell of a 2016 thus far!

Never did I think 2016 would get off to the start that it has for me, but it has. Many of you know and many of you don’t know, but I’ve been in Jackson, Mississippi (from Atlanta, Ga) since January 2nd, caring for my mom who became ill. The illness part of it was not as bad as I was imagining (thankfully) – mom suffering a TIA (or transient ischemic attack) or in laymen’s terms a mini-stroke. Never did I dream, imagine or think that coming here would take on a whole new role for me as well as for my mom.

We all know that as we age, the roles of life reverse themselves for many; hands-578918_1920mom and dad raise you, teach you until adulthood, but as the parents age, we as their children have to reverse the roles and that in itself can be very awkward as well as challenging. As the product of 1950s parents, it’s very difficult to try and tell your parents what to do; one because they always feel they are correct, no matter what the issue, and me as the child, not wanting to be disrespectful to the elderly, having been taught to be respectful to your parents – even though I’m a senior citizen! (lol). It’s by trial and error that I’m learning how to deal with the elderly but I’m also learning to recognize that there are real, deep-rooted wounds in which that particular generation of parents’ themselves faced in their upbringing. These unforgiving and unforgotten problems seem to be ingrained and they cannot let go, which in itself brings on a whole new slew of issues.

When I use the term caregiving, I don’t mean just coming sitting with my mom and we share stories or reminisce on times’ past. What I mean is this:  Getting up when the sun rises, preparing breakfast, bathing, giving medications, checking vital signs, emptying urinal, cleaning house, cooking for lunch (as diabetics have to eat every few hours), checking vitals again, washing clothes, preparing a light evening meal, giving medications, checking vitals, doctors appointments 2-3 times per month, preparing physical therapy and occupational therapy coming twice per week to assist in getting mom back to her normal state of activity as best as possible, maintaining her business affairs (thankfully she’s still sharp and she can continue to maintain her bills, finances, etc. on her own for now) and oh yea, ME trying to maintain an income by working 7-8 hours at night!  Whew!  Just reading that makes me exhausted! This by the way is 7 days a week. That’s why I said caregiving is NOT for the weak.

Thankfully now days there is an abundance of assistance to assist the caregiver as caregiving can be overwhelming. There are support groups for caregivers who understand and have gone through similarities. There are hundreds of agencies that have very professional, caring staff such as nurses, nurses aides, physical therapy and occupational and even volunteers who will come and assist with the most minute task such as cleaning, cooking or even just sitting with a person so that the caregiver can get a break. Most of these services are covered either through Medicare, Medicaid and of course private pay.

My advice to those out there considering caregiving for your loved ones or know of someone who is thinking of becoming a caregiver to someone, really do your research carefully, think long and hard before you decide to take on this task yourself.  Your own health must be in order and in good standing to be able to help someone else because this is something that requires 10-12 hours per day, a situation which could become long-term – for a few months to many years – and it requires YOU to be in tip-top shape – physically, mentally and emotionally. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who have had experience with being a caregiver and get their thoughts and ideas and most of all, always take care of you before taking care of someone else.

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