Thursday, May 27, 2010

Caretaker with a cloudy mind

Let me start by saying, I was blessed with great parents. They are such giving people. They both worked hard to support my sister, brother and myself. My sister graduated, married and moved far away. My brother graduated and also moved far away. So here I am, living 1 mile from my parents. Our family has always been very close and have been there for one another. They use to be my caretaker, but now the role is reversing and lately I'm becoming their caretaker and decision maker. I didn't sign up for this position, but this is just the way it is. They both have been having health issues and are very needy. A few years ago they almost sold the family home to move into assisted living, but my mom didn't want to leave her cozy home and when the house deal fell thru, she shouted for joy. My dad is losing his ability to do things around the house that he use to be able to do. We are at that point again of trying to figure out the best plan of action as to try selling again and moving into assisted living, or just stay put with their familiar surroundings and me coming by as often as I can to take care of things and also seeking outside help. Lately I've been spending my day off taking them to Dr. appts. or running errands for them. My dad never fails to tell me as I am leaving "we don't know what we would do without you". Talk about pressure that puts on a person! I feel I have to live up to their expectations. So much runs through my mind, which brings me to my Title. My mind feels cloudy.
I know I am not the only person who is helping to take care of their parents. Someday I might be in the same situation, but lately my mind has had this cloudy feeling. I feel such a weight on my shoulders at times. I have 2 households to think about. It gets very scary at times. I do a lot of praying, which is seeming to help. I take one day at a time and that's all I can do. I pray every day for patience and understanding of their needs. I want to be a daughter that will be there for them, but I also have a husband to think about too. At times I feel like a piece of taffy being pulled in so many different directions. I have faith that things will work out and hopefully soon, the sun will peek through the clouds in my mind. Until then, I will continue with the help of God to be there for them, because I never know how long I will have them here.


Adventures In Babywearing said...

Mom, you're definitely earning jewels for your crown. I sometimes wonder if there's a way I could have them live with us, since I am home, and what's two more kids?


Sharon - Mom Generations said...

Rhonda, I cry as I read this most emotional and moving post. I am right with you. Barry and I have only my Mom now, which is very, very sad to have lost the others... and I am my Mom's sole caretaker. Just like you with your parents. I have 2 brothers, one lives in Maryland with his wife (his 2 grown children are in Virginia and Montana), and one brother lives a mile from me with his wife and 2 grown daughters who still live in Rhode Island. My older brother has not visited my Mom in 5 years, never mind help when she is sick or just visit because she would love to see them. My brother who lives near us just always has too much to do to help in any way. I do all the appointments, entertainment... I make all the phone calls for any services my Mom may need. I do these things, like you, because I love her dearly and she has taken very good care of me all my life. But she has done these things for my brothers, too... and their families. It can be exhausting. Last week I spent 2 entire days with appointments... and they take such a long time because my Mom walks slowly now and she has a severe hearing loss and I need to explain everything several times. It breaks my heart, but I get to see and hear the wisdom that such age has brought to her. I listen to her stories and my children listen to her stories and we all give her the love she needs. I know what you mean... I have Barry and I help all my kids with our grandkids and we are torn in many directions. Barry and I try to have family dinners at our home, very low key, with individual families so my Mom gets to see her grandchildren in quieter situations. (When all 9 are together, you can imagine the activity!!!!) I lay in bed at night and wonder how I will do it all... who is getting my attention and who is not. I don't see any answer. I read Stephanie's response and I am blown away with her suggestion... so loving and caring. Barry and I have also considered this, but my Mom would be alone a lot. She lives in a senior complex now and they always have something going on and they all watch out for each other. Oh, Rhonda... I know we are both looking for sunshine in all of this... so we must go day by day, just like the sky. Sometimes it will be a spectacular sunny day and others it will be pouring torrents. I have actually ASKED my brothers for help, at least to visit my Mom and have their kids visit my Mom... that would be such an emotional help. That's not going to happen, I guess. I read recently that our generation is called the CLUB SANDWICH GENERATION, the first ever to have caretaking of elderly parents, children and grandchildren. Wow. It is awesome. It is, sometimes, a lot. We all need help. We all go to be each night worrying about it. Well, some of us worry. I pray to God, too, for my Mom's well-being and I pray for my brothers and their families to return the love that she so generously showered on them. (I must tell you here that both of my brothers have a mother-in-law who lives WITH THEM. This is a double whammy to me.) I feel your post like I could have written it. Maybe this is why we found each other... !! Much love today, my dearest friend.

Carolyn Vaughn said...

Check out assisted living places. Some of them are very upscale with lots of activities like bingo, tai chi, movies, etc. and they usually provide transportation to doctor visits etc. Out here the senior housing/assisted living places offer reduced price lunches and tours of the facility. When I was an election judge at one of the assisted living places in our area, they fed us with wonderful meals and the place was beautiful. Everyone of us judges were checking out the costs of living there. The costs at these places vary according to the services that are provided. I stayed in a assisted living facility for rehab after breaking my leg. While the food wasn't great they bent over backwards to accommodate me. Families of residents are encouraged to eat meals with the residents and many family members volunteer at the care facility.

Remember caretakers need care to be able to care for others.

Jen @ One Moms World said...

Big ((HUGS)) Rhonda! You are a true gem and the good Lord up above is definitely shining down on all you are doing. It is definitely bittersweet as it does take a toll on you, but the you just never know how long you will have them with you.

Just know it is ok to reach out for help. You don't need to do it alone. I understand about the assisted living. Grandma didn't want do that either. She only wanted her familiar surroundings but when she had to to go rehab for 6 weeks and seen all the fun games and outings they did... she really did have a wonderful time.

If there is anything I can do, just let me know. For now, I will uplift you in my daily prayers. Just remember that you do need to still take care of yourself as you have those beautiful grandkids that LOVE their Mimi and they need her to be healthy as well.

Love ya!

Sharon - Mom Generations said...

Hi Rhonda! I hope your day, especially with your glorious weather, is a truly sunshiny day!! It is so interesting... at 8:00 am today my Mom called to tell me she wasn't going to her senior center on the bus because she was coughing so much overnight. This alarmed me because of her horrible pneumonia earlier this year. I told her to stay by the phone and I would call our family doctor (this guy is a DREAM). I began calling at 8:30 and left several messages. At 9:10, I heard from the receptionist that our doc had a 10:15. I took it. I called my Mom for 45 minutes and couldn't get through. I was panicking as I drove to her apartment. I was in her lobby when she called back. She didn't have her hearing aids in and missed my calls. I said, "We have to go NOW!" But of course my Mom needed to look good... lipstick, etc. I was FRANTIC to make the appointment. (Barry had called earlier and I was frantic and he told me to calm down so I wouldn't upset my Mom... I said to him, "WHAT ABOUT ME!!!!????) We finally got to our doc... 10 minutes late... and he diagnosed a severe asthma attack with a touch of infection in her lungs. Yikes. He called in several meds (including prednisone) to our pharmacy. I took my Mom to breakfast (nice slow one!), picked up the meds, visited Audrey and gave my Mom all her new meds, made out a huge chart of the new meds, stopped to get a take-out dinner for tonight so she would eat (I am babysitting for Audrey and Matt so they can go to Campus Dance at Brown University... it is the big event of the summer!), got my Mom in her apartment and now I'm home getting ready to run 6 miles. I guess we have to be ready for ANYTHING, right!!?? Thank God we were able to see our doc... she would have had to wait until Tuesday and who knows how bad things might be by then. God is always looking and listening... !! Have a wonderful weekend!! So much love coming your way!!

Bacardi Mama said...

You are such a good daughter. Your mom and dad are so lucky to have you to take care of them. I think we are all at the age when it is becoming our jobs to take care of our parents. My mom and stepdad have decided that they can't drive out of town anymore, so they always have to be picked up and taken home for any function. But, it's what we have to do. At least I have two sisters and a brother who help. I'll say a special prayer for you my sweet friend.

Stillmary said...

Here's another take. Spend as much time with your parents as you can BUT every day off cannot be there's, every spare minute cannot go to them. Try to find a balance. You've also got children and grandchildren that you want to spend time with. You work and have a husband and a home. Give what you can to your parents but you can't be everything to them.
When I can't take care of myself, I hope that my kids put my in a nursing home or assisted living facility if that's possible. I will have lived my life and I want them to live there's without guilt or over burdening.