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Health Questions & Answers

Q:

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Being a caretaker can be exhausting from what I've seen my mom do. My grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a couple years back. My mom has been her caregiver ever since. She visits her almost on a daily basis at the assisted living home. She also makes sure my grandma goes to church every Sunday. With the background my grandmother came from, she';D never miss a week of church!

So this is one thing I've said to my mom and I';D share with everyone else who is a care taker:

Know that it's okay to take a break and re-energize. It can be hard to do this because you want to make sure they are doing alright and feel loved at every moment of the day. You use every ounce of love in your body to care of them. But you have to take care of yourself just as much as them. And to be able to continue helping them, breaks are necessary for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

What tips for caretakers do you have? Do you have a similar experience?

Bri Luginbill asked this
August 17, 2011 at 12:45 PM

A:

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Bri,

I've seen the same thing with my wife. For 12 years she was the care giver for both her parents while they still lived in their home. Her dad first when he got cancer. Her mom did not drive or do the finances so Norma had all that responsibility. She did that for about 3 years until he passed away. After that her mom relied on her constantly for taking her places and being her companion. It really took a physical toll on her. Norma is so much like your mom, making sure the quality of life was good for her folks even at the expense of her own physical well being. I totally agree about getting a break but Norma's problem was that since both parents lived at home there was no one else to assist...... thanks for sharing

Beryl answered
August 17, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Beryl, thanks for sharing too. Wow, your wife sounds amazing, taking care of two parents who lived at home and for 12 years. She sounds like such a caring and strong woman!

Bri Luginbill answered
August 17, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Thank you both for sharing your stories. Bri, your mom is doing a wonderful thing; your grandma is lucky to have your mom so close! And Beryl, I have to agree with Bri - your wife sounds amazing. What a kind and selfless thing to do.

This is a topic that's very dear to my heart. My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when she was only in her early 50's. My grandfather cared for her for all 16 years of her illness. I'm sad that I never really got to know her (I was six when she died, and she was non-communicative at that point) but I am so proud of my grandfather's legacy. He did everything for her: fed her, clothed her, washed her, changed her diaper. Through it all, he would tell her that she was still his pretty girl, that she was still his best friend. Now that's love.

His friends all told him that he was wearing himself out, so he did put her in a nursing home - but it only lasted a day. He couldn't stand it. She had nursed him back to health when he had been in a horrific car accident years before, and now he wanted to take care of her. He was an incredible man; unfortunately, we lost him to Alzheimer's as well, just a couple years ago. The story of my grandparents is so dear to me that I actually ended up writing my senior project about it during my last year at Grand Valley.

Laura Hogg answered
August 18, 2011 at 7:59 AM

This is a topic that hits close to home for me as well. I am thankful that each one of us has been blessed with angels among us, including Bri's mom, Beryl's wife, Laura's grandfather, and my mom.

My grandmother moved in with my mom over two years ago after my grandfather passed. As she is in her late eighties, her healthy is declining and she was actually diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF) this summer. She has always had poor eye-sight and she relies on my mom for absolutely everything... My mom sounds so similar to your 'angels' as her heart is simply to big to say no to anyone. Her sister has been in the ICU for other serious conditions for almost 3 months now and although she lives over 3 hours away, my mom drives to visit her at least once or twice each week.

On top of all of this, as her one and only daughter is getting married this summer, she is still trying to help with wedding planning and celebrations...

I have taken on many of the typical MOB (mother-of-the-bride) tasks and am doing my best to withhold any wedding worries for her to prevent any additional worries on her mind. What is amazing as I believe she is doing a great job of maintaining semi-balance in her life amidst everything else. Certainly a miraculous woman to look up to and it sounds as though you each have incredible role-models in your lives as well.

Health is truly an incredible blessing. One I must remind myself of each and every day.

Jessica Corwin MPH RDN Health Coach answered
August 19, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Thank you for sharing this. As i to is taking care of my mom and dad with my sister.It get very frustrating watching there health decline especially when you have been living with your parent all your life.

Diana from SLN answered
August 22, 2011 at 8:33 AM
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