At some point in time, many of us will go through a role reversal and will end up caring for our parents at the end of their life. For the majority of us, it means juggling schedules with our kids, partners and work. It is an exceptionally stressful time emotionally, physically and sometimes financially. I know because I have been there – twice. Very few of us, can take time off work to care for our aging parent. But that’s exactly what my friend did.
For many years, she ran a successful home day care. In the later years her mother helped out with the kids. The kids adored her. She not only enriched their daycare experiences with her amazing creative skills and sense of humour, but it also brought joy and purpose into her life after the death of her husband.
A number of years ago, my friend’s mother sold her house and moved in with her. She had her own room and living space – giving her the privacy and autonomy that are so important but she also had the support of a loving daughter.
My friend retired early from the daycare business about three years ago and chose to became the primary caregiver for her mother. I worried at the time how that was going to work out. What a huge commitment for anyone to make. But it did work out. In fact, her mother flourished. It was so interesting to watch how the relationship grew. My friend, being the ultimate caregiver took on the task with great enthusiasm. She planned out their days, including nap times, crafts, reading, personal care, meals etc. – just like at the daycare.
I know how hard it was to keep at it day after day, but my friend remained strong with the help of her husband. She had little support from the government – only 3 hours per week of home care for personal care. During two of those hours she was able to get out of the house for a much needed break. At one point, there was a concern that her mother would have to go into a nursing home after a rapid deterioration. It turned out it was a bladder infection that caused delirium. Once that was cleared up, things were back to normal.
About a week ago, my friend’s mother was diagnosed with aortic stenosis. Despite her age, this feisty lady said she wanted to have the surgery to fix it. Sadly, her kidneys began to shut down and she never had the surgery. She passed away a few days ago.
Caring for our loved ones is just part of the way we can give back to them. We all have to do it in our way – the way that’s right and feasible for us and there should be no judgment in that decision. My friend choose to commit all and the rewards for her and her mother were enormous. I applaud you my friend and all caregivers!