Elder care first year lessons

My mom has lived with me for more than 10 years now. But oh how naïve I was when I moved her to Missouri to live with me within weeks of finishing graduate school and taking a new job in an entirely new industry than what I had done for more than 10 years.

Ironically, I thought senior care would be easier for me in the St. Louis area than in New York.  I had planned to move back to Brooklyn to be closer to family and work on Wall Street.  I even turned down the job in St. Louis, I eventually took to do it. But my first interview in New York for an associate research analyst position convinced me and mom that it was a bad idea. I was informed that I’d be expected to work about 14 hours a day and on Saturdays.  Sure, I’d get car service home, but after that kind of day, who’d have time for anything or anyone else.

When mom heard that, she finally agreed to leave New York after living there almost 40 years.  She resisted for years because she liked her independence and preferred to have a place her children could come to if we ever needed it. But in the end, she agreed to move because she didn’t want me working those kinds of hours and coming home late at night.  Luckily the gig in St. Louis was still open and my employer agreed to pay for my mom’s move as well. (Those were the good old days).

Like I said, I was naïve when I moved her in because I honestly thought bringing her to live with me would almost be like having a roommate, but one with a little more needs.  We’d eat together, do a little shopping and keep each other company when I home. So my mother wouldn’t be bored and lonely when I was at work and I wouldn’t worry about her being in unfamiliar surroundings, she’d attend a adult day program and make friends at a new church.

I learned better within days of my mother’s arrival in my home.   It was the first weekend in July and we were still living in the temporary housing. In less than a week, mom was supposed to visit her new doctor so he could, at the very least, check her sugar level and prescribe the insulin and other medications she’d need.

But her health wouldn’t let her wait a week.  After dinner, mom started complaining of chest pains and dizziness, so I checked her blood glucose level and blood pressure. Both were dangerously high although I didn’t know it when I called the paramedics.  When they arrived, they apparently didn’t like what they saw either and took her to the hospital.

It was a long night and my reality check on how my life was about to change. But we survived and you will too.  Stay tuned for how we did it. In the meantime, how about sharing your elder care wake up call or reality check.

I'm a working wife and mom who takes care of an aging parent. Only I began doing it full-time, in my home, when I was in my mid-thirties, single and about to make a career change. Thirteen years later, mom is still living with me and I expect it to be that way until one of us leaves this earth. It hasn't always been easy managing her care. (I've helped my mother recover from surgery, and a major injury that required a nursing home stay, as well as the death of my younger brother after a long illness.) But caring for her has been worth it because I know that my assistance means she enjoys a better quality of life as she ages. I hope the experiences and information that I share will help you manage,with grace, the changes that take place in your life as you assume the responsibility of being your parent's caregiver. If you have a question you think I can answer, please contact me at Cynthia@motherskeeper.com

Posted in First year lessons, Uncategorized