As the member of the AARP blogger Kitchen Cabinet, this is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own as always.
My mother’s health and well-being has deteriorated since August. My role as a caregiver has grown to the point where I drive her everywhere, take care of her medications, keep track of her appointments, attend doctors’ visits with her, make sure that she is eating and more. I am planning for the future because I know she will need more care, especially moving to Assisted Living.
It’s been difficult to see her decline. Once a vibrant, extremely independent woman who enjoyed cooking, traveling and appreciated life, she is now depressed and paranoid. Our roles have changed. And I’m getting back what I gave to her as a teenager – stubbornness and the “I know it all” attitude. Becoming a full-time caregiver has led me to reach out to my family and friends and their support is invaluable.
Support is Treasured
I belong to a Dementia Caregivers support group, where we learn from each other, share the joys of caring for our loved ones and sometimes vent. The most common complaint is the lack of support, especially from family.
As for me, I am blessed to have the support of my family. They are my “caregiving team”. Although I am the only one who lives close to my mother, my family members are just a phone call away. We talk often. Sometimes they get an idea that will help me. Sometimes it’s a text message that gives me a pat on the back. Sometimes it’s an offer to come for a visit to give me respite.
One of my worries is not being able to care for my mother because of my own health problems, but knowing that I can count on family for support is a relief. Family and friends’ positive advice is always welcome. Since they are on the outside looking in, they often have a better perspective and frequently open my mind to something I’d never think of on my own.
November is Caregivers Month
This month, we can celebrate caregivers. Many caregivers have a challenging time. They have families of their own, have a job, feel isolated, the need to do personal care (including bathing, dealing with incontinence) and guilt. And because of these trials caregivers deserve to be thanked for all that the do. Supporting caregivers is well-received with these issues.
But, the support of family helps override these situations. Although caregiving can be tough, there are many times of joyfulness. Knowing that I can give back to my mother who was always there for me is especially gratifying. Taking time to really listen to her, including her stories of her life, is rewarding. Since physical touch is something she craves and has avoided in the past, holding her hand as we talk, kissing her face, and giving her hugs is so special.
AARP I Heart Caregivers Campaign
So let’s take the time to thank a caregiver, but more importantly, be there for them. AARP is running an I Heart Caregivers campaign. As a caregiver you can share your story. If you’re not, read the stories to learn about the caregiver role. You’ll learn about the joys and challenges.