Working and being a caregiver is hard but doable

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

Lately I’ve been thinking about when I first moved mom into my home and the impact it had on my life.  Like I said before, I was 35, single and making a career change.

That in and of itself was hard enough, but I also moved the both of us to a new city where we had no friends or family.  And I spent most of my time studying for some job required professional licenses. My life was mostly a routine of going to work, from there to the library, and back home only to do it again the next day.

It was an awful existence.  But I kept at it because I thought it was something I wanted.  Finally, I decided to talk to a therapist about the anxiety I felt over all the life changes I’d made in such a short amount of time. I don’t remember much of what we talked about, but I do remember feeling overwhelmed and confused. After a few visits to the therapist, the image of myself sitting on her couch looking confused and helpless disturbed me so much that somewhere on Highway 64 in St. Louis during the drive home  I decided that something had to change.

Since I knew that I wasn’t going to send my blind mother who had several major health issues that needed attention back to New York to live by herself, I had to make some adjustments to my career goals. So I dusted off the resume and went back to something more familiar, eventually being able to meld the skills I picked up as an associate research analyst with my journalism background.

I know that many of you won’t be able to change jobs or careers, nor may you want to. But that’s not really the point of this story.  Until that epiphany on the drive home, I hadn’t fully accepted that my life had changed when I  moved mom into my home and became her chief caregiver.  But it had in much the same way your life changes when you become a parent or get married.

Only I didn’t have family around to help me and I couldn’t leave the house without making sure her needs were addressed.  That meant that I couldn’t  work late or go away for the weekend unless I had a home health aide or neighbor check on her during my absence.

Once I accepted my new reality I was able to stop complaining and take a closer look at the elder care and volunteer resources that were available to use.  And I had time to make friends and develop a support system through church and the Society for the Blind so I could go out and have more time for myself.

I’m not going to kid you.  Being a caregiver, especially during the first year,  can wear you down. But you can adapt if you first accept that what you may need to  do most is change your attitude and how you are dealing with the situation.

 

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

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