Early this year, I lost my dear mother, Hattie Kane, a modest but blessed and beloved wife and mother. She died of a lengthy illness at the age of 93 after I’d cared for her for eight years, five of them in my home. Largely because of this experience, helping others with their caregiving journey has become a new passion of mine.
The holidays can be a time of family, fun and joy — but for family caregivers, these special occasions often include added stress as they continue helping their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and other loved ones. We recently shared some holiday tips for family caregivers on the AARP Advocates Facebook page — and many of our friends chimed in with their own suggestions. Here’s what they had to say:
When their grandfather’s health declined, Christina and her brother, Michael, stepped in to care for their “Papa.” Together they did everything he needed to stay at home, where he wanted to be. Christina shared:
Ah — autumn! The crisp cool weather, the colorful leaves ... and the smell of football is in the air. This time of year I’m reminded of the days of my youth when I spent countless hours watching my pop and brother practicing football in the backyard, watching high school games my brother starred in, and watching our beloved Buffalo Bills on TV.
My pop, like many family caregivers, used his ingenuity to solve problems. This time, Pop was trying to figure out an easier way to help my mom out of her wheelchair and into bed. Pop was in his 90s, and anything would make it easier on him. So he rigged up a ramp from cinder blocks and particle board. If he could get her chair going at the right speed and right angle, he could run up the ramp and drop her in bed. No doubt Mom was a good sport and willing passenger.
“I'm so tired, even my health has gone down due to stress. I love my mom ... but with my health issues, all I do is cry alone. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning, can’t breathe ... nothing seems OK.” —Ruby
Every day for eight years, my Pop provided hands-on care for my mom, who faced a number of physical challenges. At age 90, Pop was still helping Mom out of bed into her wheelchair, bathing and dressing her, making the meals, and doing the dishes, laundry and anything else that needed to be done. A few times a week, Pop would get out of the house for a trip to the grocery store and a few staples like bread, milk and eggs. It wasn't that there was always a need, but Pop would drive to and from the store for a change of scenery - and a much-needed break from his 24/7 caregiving responsibilities.
BREAKING UPDATE 5/15: Oklahoma becomes the first state in the nation to enact the CARE Act! SB 1536, also known as the CARE Act, has been signed by Governor Mary Fallin and will take effect November 1, 2014. The bill will help the 600,000 family caregivers in Oklahoma when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.
BREAKING UPDATE: The Hawaii legislature has created a task force to examine the critical role family caregivers serve when their loved ones go into the hospital and then transition home. As a named member of the task force, AARP Hawaii will help evaluate how to implement provisions of the CARE Act as well as the community resources needed for family caregivers to safely care for their loved ones at home. In early 2015, the task force will make a recommendation to best support the 270,000 family caregivers in Hawaii.
Search AARP Blogs