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Caring for the Caregiver

Carole and her mother Fran

My name is Carole, and for the last 18 months, my husband Jay and I have been full- time caregivers to my 92-year-old mom, Fran. Fran lives with us in a suburb of Los Angeles. She has advanced dementia and requires our undivided attention and care because she can no longer do anything for herself.

Our morning routine together includes, dressing, eat and cleaning. Then there’s the never-ending job of keeping her calm and happy throughout the day. Finally, our evening routine means getting her ready for bed, brushing her teeth, kissing her goodnight and tucking her into bed. This is more than a full-time job.

And all of this is done while working and trying to have lives of our own. I am in my mid-sixties and my husband is in his mid-seventies. Somehow, I never thought this would be what our Medicare years would look like.

Receiving Home Care Assistance’s grant for 48 hours of care has been a bonus on many levels. Not only did it provide us with much needed recreational time, but it made us feel like we were supported and not so alone. We didn’t go away for the weekend or do anything wild and crazy. We ran errands, rested, napped; we then went out to dinner, followed by a movie. We also had the chance to take care of personal business at home. All this without the pressure and worry of watching my mom, making sure she was safe, fed and happy. Knowing she was being cared for by a trustworthy and reputable company truly gave us some respite!

My mother is an extraordinary person. It is both a great privilege and a great burden to be the people who get to take exquisite care of her at this time of her life. She has been everyone’s caretaker all her life and is generous to a fault despite having little money to give.

older woman on a motorcycle

Fran on her 85th birthday, atop her son’s motorcycle.

She used to walk around her neighborhood with quarters in her pockets after she received her measly social security check and hand them out to the homeless, encouraging them to “go get a cup of coffee.” She cared for her parents, her aunts and her uncles until the end of their lives. She was a fierce mother lioness as a single mom to four kids through extremely tumultuous and stressful times. She always has a smile for everyone and is quick to say, “I love you.” She loves music and beauty and imbued us with an indomitable loyalty to family.

Although my mother can no longer name her four children and doesn’t recognize her own grandchildren, she can usually call me by name and usually, but not always, refers to me as her daughter. Sometimes she calls me her mother or her sister or her best friend. But whoever I am to her, she frequently looks at me and spontaneously says, “I love you” or “Everything you do is wonderful.” She is full of gratitude, which in turn fills us with purpose and makes the effort worthwhile.

Caring for Fran, now that she is completely helpless and vulnerable, is the hardest thing I have ever done, and it is the best thing I have ever done.

We are very grateful for the assistance of this grant.

In gratitude,

Carole, Jay and Fran

Carole is one of the 25 family caregivers who received 48 hours of free caregiving services from Home Care Assistance as part of our Caregiver Recharge Grant Program. We are extremely grateful that we were able to provide care to Carole’s mother, Fran, and that Carole was gracious enough to share her story with us.

Our next round of grants will be awarded on December 17th, 2018. To submit a nomination for the next round of grants, please apply by December 10th at: https://homecareassistance.com/caregiverrechargegrants

Our editor also recommends reading:

The Joy of Caregiving

15 Minutes Alone as a Caregiver: Protecting Your Own Time

An Introduction to Caregiver Self-Care

 

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