The Guilt of Elder care

Three years after my friend Bridget’s mother had passed, she was still asking me if she had done enough for her mom.  Seriously?  Bridget was already a full time wife and mother and worked 35 hours a week at the library, in the reference department.  Her older brother lived in town, but when her mom started to show signs of dementia, Bridget took on the official role of family caregiver.  As the years went by she found herself juggling even more with visits to her mother’s home five days a week and the added management of an in-home care company on the weekends.  She was now also paying all of her mother’s bills, arranging for her mother’s lawn to be mowed and taking her mother to the store on a weekly basis.  Her mother’s doctor’s appointments were encroaching on her job and her marriage was feeling the strain.

Eventually, Bridget’s mother became a danger to herself by continuing to live in her own home and Bridget had no other option than to move her mother to an assisted living facility.  She still saw her mother every few days and still stopped by her mother’s home to pick up the mail, pay the bills and water the lawn.

Six months after Bridget’s mom moved into assisted living she had a fall.  She was hospitalized, contracted pneumonia and ultimately died.  Bridget was close to her mother and felt very lost at her passing.  We worked together to clean out her mother’s assisted living apartment and then took on her home.  This task was all-consuming for the course of several weekends, but we managed through it and two weekend estate sales.   Bridget then got the house listed with a realtor.  It sold fairly quickly and even though there would ultimately be another year of things to do to finalize her mother’s estate, she could momentarily step back and breathe a sigh of relief.

Bridget had been a good and kind-hearted daughter.  At her own emotional and physical expense, Bridget had found a way to be a thoughtful and dedicated caregiver, even though her mother was not always pleasant to deal with.  In fact, often times, throughout Bridget’s four years of intense caregiving, Bridget’s mother berated her and even condemned her efforts.  Now, Bridget was wondering if she had done enough.  Really?  Yes, she had done enough.  In fact, she had done more than enough.

Caregivers, here is what YOU need to know.  If you are a caregiver of your elderly loved one, you are doing a great service to that person.  Not everyone steps up to give care to their parents or elderly loved ones.  Many thousands of elderly people have no one who is their advocate.  No one comes to visit them or helps them.

You are a good and wonderful person.  You have found it in your heart and soul to reach out to your loved one and help them through this difficult phase of life, and you are an angel on earth.  If you have a somewhat strained relationship with your loved one, yet you are still reaching out to help them, then you are a saint!  Caregiving is not for the faint at heart! This work takes inner strength, patience, dedication, sacrifice and most of all courage.  Know is your heart that you are doing something very important and be grateful that you have been entrusted with this heroic task.

About Carol

Carol Core, President and Founder of CarolCARE knows, first hand, what your life looks like when it comes to caring for your elderly loved one. Carol knows, because for over 12 years she was the non-paid family caregiver for her Mom, Dad and dear Uncle Earl. While trying to juggle full-time work; life as a wife, mother and grandmother; she managed the care, health, finances and safety of three elderly people.