As I talk with more and more people about taking on the responsibility of family caregiving, a specific theme runs through the conversations. This theme is that of feeling really good about helping their family member or members fulfill this dream. This aspect of making an important decision makes sense, especially in situations in which the person now needing care has wanted it to happen for a good length of time.
While this draw to making this commitment is honourable and fills us with the warm fuzzies, experience tells me that this feeling of doing the right thing can wear thin, especially as the experience continues; and, of course, it can wear thin more quickly for the in-law. As part if your decision making process, please keep in mind that you are pondering embarking on a labour of love, which resembles caring for a child. You see, when you have an elderly parent or parent-in-law living with you or in a suite in your home, you are always listening. We have been amazed at how much listening we do. Here’s a bit of a list to give you the idea: we listen because the TV, radio, and phone conversations are louder due to our charge’s increasing deafness; we listen in the mornings to confirm that she has awakened; we listen for the morning care providers to arrive, we listen for the day care bus to arrive, we listen if she goes out to the garden, and we listen to phone calls obviously from telemarketers to ensure she is not giving out private information. Oh yes, and we listen to any coughing or signs of her falling. In addition in the early days, we listened to how long the water was running, lest my husband’s mom had decided to take a shower without the care provider there, because she’d become impatient, an act that quite easily could lead to a nasty fall.
So, as you carefully consider your motivation for deciding to take on the role of caregiver to your aging parent, here is some food for thought. While my intention is in no way to dissuade you from going ahead, I want to share with you the realities, both trying and rewarding. Please stay tuned as our blog conversation builds, and add to the discussion if you feel so inclined.