Jan 19 2013 in Caring for Parents and Kids by Jo
In answer to the question, my first reaction was “No!” I wouldn’t volunteer for a position like this… but then I don’t have to, I am already filling such a role.
I was born much later in my family timeline. There was a 13-year gap between me and the next sibling. By the time I was in elementary school, my siblings were adults and already out of the house. I knew, even then, that I would be filling the role of caretaker for my parents and probably my extended family for the majority of my life. I will confess, when you’re seven or eight years old, the thought is terrifying.
I am currently a solo parent and sandwich caregiver with children at home plus I care for my mom. Until his death last fall I was also the caregiver for my dad; my daughter has special needs and I am now coming to terms with the long term aspect of her care. I advise my sister who is the caregiver for her husband and due to my sister’s age and the fact that her daughter is herself a caregiver for another, I anticipate playing an active role in the care of my sister in the not too distant future. I’m in my forties and easily envision decades more of active caregiving in my future.
In response to Denise’ concern of how do you go on year after year, decade after decade? For me the answer is, my entire life was in preparation for this role. I can see now how nearly every past experience and circumstance contributed the resources I draw upon now.
Is there an end in sight? No, I don’t see a distinct end to my caregiving. I expect to transition from caring for one family member to the next until one day I personally transition from being the caregiver to being the caregivee. In anticipation of that I am preparing the next generation of caregivers who will come after me.
Although there are many caregivers in my family most are focused on a single person. I am uniquely positioned to provide some level of care for multiple members and multiple generations of my immediate and extended family. By my definition, I am my Family’s Care Manager. I’m going to ask my kids for a raise.