I was raised in a family where as a young teenager, I watched my mom, Maggie, care for my dad for many years after he had a brain injury. My grandmother also often lived with our family up until the age of 96. As my grandmother grew older, Maggie became her caregiver as well.
Maggie was much more than a mom to me. She became my friend, my buddy, and a confidant as I grew older. Maggie loved to paint, draw, study art, enjoyed all types of music, and was a voracious reader. She had a great sense of humor, laughed easily, and was so easy and fun to be around. To put it simply, she loved and enjoyed people and life in general!
I learned when I was about 15 years old that life can happen to us when we least expect it. It is true we can’t always control our circumstances but we can control how we respond and deal with the circumstances we are given. I witnessed a positive example of that by watching my mom. She instilled in me at a young age the importance of caring for family and the compassion and love that goes into that role.
Maggie’s choices were limited when suddenly she had to put her life on hold to care for my dad. Regardless of her circumstances, she did everything she could to try to keep my dad calm, comfortable and clean. She invested time in discovering new ways to prepare him healthy meals. There were days when Maggie also relied on a home care agency to come to our home. It was reassuring to rely upon an agency to care for my dad. In time we understood how comforting a wonderful caregiver was and the peace of mind the right agency offered.
I recall Maggie’s life changing as she became the primary caregiver for my dad. I am about the same age now that she was when she found out her world had changed. I can only imagine the terror that must have gone through her mind, trying to figure out how to support her family, care for her children, and basically just survive. I remember the worried, confused look on her face when she was trying to figure out what to do. I recall the frustrations Maggie faced while taking my dad to so many different doctors, experimenting with many different medications that had adverse side effects and didn’t seem to work. She consistently worried about her finances and how she was going to pay medical expenses and support her family. Friends came to visit less and less and slowly faded away. She had lost her independence, felt isolated, and became somewhat depressed. Over the 15 years that Maggie cared for my dad, the stress of her role as a caregiver took a toll on her physical well-being. She gained weight, her health declined, and she developed Type II diabetes. This happened over 35 years ago when there were so fewer resources and community support than we have available today.
If you currently are a family caregiver or worried about caring for a loved one, let me reassure you, you are not alone. At Silver Tree Home Care we work with many families seeking ways to help cope with caring for a loved one. There are many resources out there available these days and a community of people that are passionate about helping families like yours and the seniors in our area. Many wonderful support groups are now available for family caregivers. Remember to relieve stress by continuing social activities. Contact a non-profit to educate yourself more about the disease your loved one faces. I’ve included as many of those resources as possible on my site. If you still can’t find the answers you’re looking for, we will try to get the information for you at no cost, even if home care is not what you need. Part of our mission at Silver Tree Home Care is to help families find or connect with those pieces of the puzzle that will help them get to the resources they need.
For more information, please call us at 502.240.6464.