She was showing me around the tenth nursing home I had visited in as many days. Bill was in the hospital at the time and each day after visiting him, I would evaluate a nursing home or two in case one was needed eventually. In all, I visited 15 nursing homes.

On this day, the administrator took me to the activity room where I saw a basket of  small towels sitting on a long table. “Some of the residents help fold these because it is something they can still do,” she told me.
My mind quickly fled to Bill who could no longer fold a towel. Nor could he tell time, write his name, follow a simple direction, dress himself or brush his teeth. This man was once a beloved pastor; a successful and sensitive clinical psychologist on the staff of three hospitals. He had a private practice always with a waiting list. Now he was devastated by Alzheimer's disease. In his free time he once built beautiful clocks, refurbished antique cars, hiked and biked with me and wrote lovely poems.

As the tour continued all I could see was Bill sitting in a chair feeling forgotten and isolated in spite of my daily visits. But I also knew that someday it might be impossible for me to meet his needs at home. I wanted to be prepared. He was already too heavy for me to lift; too forgetful to be left alone; and up at night so many times that I was surviving on 2-3 hours of interrupted sleep.

I was a caregiver. Caregivers do so much for those they care for. From tenderly changing diapers on an incontinent 85 year old father to assisting a child who cannot walk or talk or providing for an aging mother who no longer knows her children and more...lots more. Caregivers are all ages and each of them is as much a patient, i.e. as much in need of love and support as is the patient they care for. Caring for someone close to us, a spouse, a child, a parent presents issues of its own. Our investment is different and we are so close to it emotionally that self care becomes a challenge too many ignore. Taking a class or joining a support group as you care for someone close to you is all but essential. The price tag is high if we are not educated to the pitfalls, the needs, how to get help, and more.
Picture
Bill created this clock from raw cherry. The finial came off in our last move.
At what point does a caregiver recognize that s/he is not super human; is totally exhausted and overwhelmed. You who are caregivers know exactly what I am talking about. Whether it is your husband or wife, your mother, your child or a good friend...you know that caregiving is a tough challenge no matter how much love motivates it. And, like me, many caregivers do not take care of themselves as they struggle with the idea of turning the care of a loved one over to strangers knowing the one we love wants to die at home...and we want that for them?
Hopefully the powers that be behind medical insurance and Medicare will get some common sense soon and cover in home care.  In the meantime you can help. Find out which of your neighbors are caregivers. They do not broadcast their needs. They are givers, after all. It is difficult for them to receive or ask for help. Ask at your church, talk to neighbors. When you find one, drop off a pie or a quiche; offer to sit with their loved one; or take the caregiver out for coffee (if they can free themselves to go) so they can just talk while you listen. And then go back...return often. Don't forget them.

Eventually most of us will be a caregiver or need one.
Resources:  www.caregiving.com

                     http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/

Related to:
acceptance, general grief, caregiving, loss

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Comments

Anne Gorman
08/18/2014 8:53am

Thank you for this beautiful piece, Mary. For those of us who have been a caregiver I so appreciate your sensitive take on the importance of caring for ourselves as we care for our loved one because if we don't there will be a price to pay.
My prayer has been and always will be that everyone would be able to care for someone in their own home if it is possible to do so.

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Mary Friedel-Hunt
08/18/2014 9:00am

Thank you, Anne. I wrote this from my own experience where I did not take good care of myself and paid and am paying a high price for that. Yes, Medicare has to come to a place where it covers home care....I would think it would be far cheaper in the end and can't figure out why it is not covered.

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11/25/2014 5:40am

Now and then I’ll stumble across a post like this and I’ll recall that there really are still interesting pages on the web. ^_^. Thanks.

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10/09/2015 2:58pm

The educated girls are very important for the development of the families and societies because they have the skills and education. The educated girls should help the societies and should make the families successful and developed.

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02/12/2016 6:52am

Amazing talent!

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03/13/2016 1:22am

This is a very great & impressive article for me by you.

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