When Does Caregiving Begin?

April 29, 2009 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

I can’t remember the day or the moment, but I do remember the feeling—that I’m more than my mother’s daughter. I’m her caregiver.

For some, caregiving begins at 3a.m. You get the call from the hospital—the third call in six months, and as you dress in the dark and rush out the door, you know that your has changed. You have some big decisions to make—about your jobs, where you’ll live, where they’ll live. You don’t know how it’s going to fall in place and your head is spinning.

For others, you can’t remember a time you weren’t a caregiver. It’s been such a long, meandering journey and you’re too tired to look back. You’re afraid to. How did the years pile up? Perhaps you moved back home to your mother’s house thinking it would be six months, a year at the most. Or for another, your spouse was diagnosed with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s or MS five, ten years ago. You’ve adjusted, and it’s been so long since you weren’t a caregiver, you’re not sure what you would do with your life if suddenly it all changed.

Caregiving is a loaded word for many. The person you’re caring for is most likely family—your husband, your wife, your parent, your child. Family trumps caregiving. You do what you do out of love and loyalty. Caregiving sounds sterile compared to your relationship. But the word “caregiving” does describe certain elements of journey. A family caregiver is a person who cares for relatives and loved ones who are frail, elderly, or have a physical or mental incapacity (www.AssociationofAging.com).

My mother started showing signs of Parkinson’s in her early 80s. I kept a close eye on her, but she insisted on living “independently,” even though that meant I coordinated her care with neighbors, church members, family members, myself, and a slew of doctors and home care professionals. By the time she was 88, I knew it was time. My mom needed full-time care—and I brought her into my home with my husband and children—and become an official sandwich generation mom.

Caregiving may be an inadequate word for all we do, but when it’s combined with another word—family caregiving—then it begins to come close in describing the love and commitment it takes to start down this path.

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“I’m Not Ready to Be a Caregiver…Am I?” Are You Knee-Deep in Laundry? Family Caregiving Overload Examined

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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