My Story

cowislandmom
quill-175980_640I've never blogged before and I've had a few false starts here, but thought I'd let everyone know why I'm here.

I'm caring for my mom, age 83, who had a stroke in 2005 which left her with right-side weakness.  She needs assistance with most activities of daily living, and can't communicate very well.  When she had the stroke, she and my dad lived 1000 miles away from me (their only child), and I didn't feel I could help all that much due to my full time job and (at that time) two teenage kids.  My dad (now 91 and still very sharp most of the time) became her full-time caregiver, taking care of her and their big house/yard, which worked out mostly okay until he needed major surgery almost two years later.  I spent six weeks with them helping him go through the surgery and caring for my mom until he was back on his feet again, and at that time it was clear to me that something needed to change; it was just too risky to have the two of them mostly on their own so far away from me.

God bless my husband, who suggested we build an addition on our house and move them up to New Hampshire with us.  Which is what we did.  In 2008, the same month that my oldest child went off to college, we sold and emptied my parents' house and moved them up here.  At the time, my dad could still handle the transfers of my mom from the wheelchair as needed during the day, and I didn't have to change a whole lot of my life.  My dad was diagnosed a few years later with congestive heart failure, and since that time I've cooked all their meals very low sodium.  That was an adjustment for a while but now it's really become second nature (so if anyone is struggling with that, I can definitely offer advice).

However, about two years ago (just as my youngest headed off to college) we really noticed my mom getting harder to transfer after she spent some time in the hospital, and that convinced us that it wasn't safe to have my dad doing the transfers any more.  So we now hire a caregiver to be here pretty much anytime I leave the house. The caregivers use a Hoyer lift to transfer my mom so they won't injure themselves (I can still transfer her manually very easily (it's all in the technique), so I don't need to use the lift).  I work four 9-hour days at a job that's about an hour commute from my home, and the rest of the time I'm the caregiver for my mom.  We do hire a caregiver occasionally just so that we can get away for a few hours or sometimes a full day, but I feel really guilty anytime I spend my parents' money to do that.  So I don't get a lot of breaks, but honestly, I'm mentally in a pretty good place for the moment.  I have a really understanding boss who has been great about the juggling of schedules as long as I get my job done.  And I've managed to start a workout routine that I can do without leaving the house.  I've given up a lot of the activities I did when my kids were in school, but I've kept a couple that mean a lot to me (ringing handbells in the church bell choir is one of them).

I do dread the future sometimes -- so much uncertainty.  But I know I've got support from my husband and kids and will get through whatever comes.  And although I truly yearn for the days when I could do something away from my home without having to hire someone to be here, it does make me appreciate the times when I can get away a whole lot more!

Join our mailing list

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter that includes caregiving tips, news, support and more.