Almost eight years ago, I was a divorced woman living in the house I had owned since 1989. However, I had become unemployed about 6 months before my husband left me. I was given alimony for eighteen months, was allowed to keep the house, for which we had already fallen behind in paying the mortgage, and my ex was given all of the bills we had. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with cancer, and all debts and obligations were then turned back to me. . . . In the time I was unemployed I was trying to get a business idea going—in upholstery. My husband had been instrumental in helping get business, but I still managed to bring in some of my own . . . just not enough to save my house, and it was foreclosed in February 2008, at which time my parents took me in and gave me a home to live in.
At that time, they were both in good health, but were still glad to have me here, as they were nearing their eighties and could use some help and other company around the house. Since I moved in here, my parents have been hospitalized several times—three for Mom, and my Dad, four. At this point, they are 82 and 87 respectively. Mom has Parkinson’s and Mild Cognitive Disorder, and takes meds for blood pressure, depression, bone density loss, etc., and at 5’6″ only weighs 87 pounds. Dad has mobility issues and hearing loss. He’s 87, so you know there is some memory loss for him as well, although not near the scope of Mom’s; just normal aging, and maybe a selective memory.
I am one of five adult children in our family, but the only one without a spouse. I have a son and daughter, and my daughter has given me a beautiful granddaughter, with a grandson coming in March 2014. One other bonus to this caregiving situation is that I have been able to watch my grand-daughter more than most grandmas can. And the real bonus is she knows her grandparents better than many children ever get to. On top of that, they [my parents] love having her around . . . she brings such joy to their lives. I think it adds so much to their lives, and I believe they would, and do, say the same.
Yes, it is sometimes hard to deal with some situations. And, yes, some of this may only get harder, I know that it probably will. But I am prepared and do all the research I can to give them the best care I can. I not only am their caregiver, but I am their shopper, cook, cleaner, companion, and for mom, driver. I go to all of Mom’s appointments with her, and drive her to any other places she needs to go. I have fears of what my life will hold when the sad day comes and they are both gone, but i have faith that everything will work out. I love being able to do this for them, even if I have met some resistance and doubt from some of the family members in the past. All in all, I know how grateful my parents are to stay in the home they have lived in for 40 years, a large Colonial House, without worrying about being alone with no help. But I am also grateful that i was in a position to do all of this for them as my last gift to them for being the most excellent parents, and people I know.
-Dee (Topeka, KS)
To see the original story from The Family Caregiver Alliance, click here.