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This Crazy Thing Called Caregiving

 

As I type this, I am huddled in my home office space with the door closed. I tap the keys furiously, trying to get as many sentences on screen as I can before my mother inevitably shuffles down the corridor and interrupts me, which happens roughly every half hour.

Sometimes I think I would give a million dollars for 10 minutes of privacy. While others fantasize about winning the lottery, my imagination pictures me sitting alone in the house for four hours, reading a book. Or sleeping past 7 a.m. without being called. Or maybe, just maybe, slipping out with friends for a night on the town without worrying if everything is all right at home.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, then we are kindred spirits. I hunch you’re also caring for an aging parent, or possibly your spouse. Maybe your loved one has dementia. Or Parkinson’s. Or cancer. No matter what the diagnosis, one thing binds us all: We provide the primary support that allows our family member to stay at home and enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

I’m wondering...does caring for your parent sometimes make you feel like a rebellious 13-year-old again? Do you have moments when you feel you could just scream? And then again, do your emotions sometimes turn quickly from exasperation to deep love and a feeling of gratitude that you are a part of this crazy journey called caregiving?

Each of us has our own reasons for deciding to become a caregiver for a family member. For me, I chose this path because I did not want to see my mother moved prematurely to a care facility. I love her and strive to give her the best life possible, given her diminishing memory and confusion about the world around her.

I’ll admit it was easier when I had a life partner to help me. No matter how stressed I felt, I could always turn to my dear husband of 33 years for comfort. Plus, he provided tangible support by taking my mom to appointments, chatting with her and generally being an A-plus spouse.

But, you know, life happens. Death happens. So now it’s me and mom, cohabitating in a small home in the southwest U.S. We love each other. We fight. We get on each other’s nerves. But we are determined to make this arrangement work.

I’ve been writing about my experiences for a while, at the To Us, It’s Personal® blog. Now I hope you’ll follow me here—to read, reflect and share your own stories. We can get through this. Let’s do it together.

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