A word to caregivers…

My precious Mother stepped into eternity at 3:35 p.m. July 26. I wanted to write the Tulsa Beacon in honor of her and also to share my experience as a caregiver. When my Mother’s long-term care insurance expired, I had a choice to make. I could either keep her in a nursing home or bring her into my house to live with me. I decided the latter.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy but for me, it gave me peace. My older sister moved in with me from out of state and together we took on the task.

It worked out beautifully because as a registered nurse, she worked evenings and I worked mornings. Being a business owner in house cleaning, I decided to let my afternoon houses go so that my sister could make her job on time.

We both sacrificed our time for Mother but oh, what satisfaction we acquired for just doing what we felt in our heart was the right thing. I understand that everyone’s circumstances are different and we can’t all do like I did, but for the sake of those that choose to do as I have done, you will be rewarded.

The hardest thing for both my sister and me was witnessing a beautiful, proud, a little headstrong, independent woman transform into a frail, bent over, sometimes fearful, needy human being that was literally dying right in front of us.

To watch someone you love deteriorate makes you very conscious of your own mortality and makes treat every day of your life on this Earth as a gift.

When your time is limited to work and caregiving, you use every opportunity that you can just to do the basics (shopping, running errands, etc.). You have to really plan your life around your loved one. It does take careful planning.

My sister and I have shared many precious moments together. We have laughed, we have cried, we have fought (we both think our way of caretaking is best) and we have loved.

Was it easy? No!

Was it worth it? Yes!

We wouldn’t trade our experience for our own personal happiness because we found a very valuable life lesson. When you lose your life for God’s sake, you find it. What better way to honor God than the Fifth Commandment – “Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may live a long life.”

For all you caregivers, hats off to you. We pray that you’ll have the strength to be loving, patient and kind with your parent/parents.

I almost failed to mention that hospice was a major blessing to us. One has to be terminally ill in order to receiver hospice care but unbeknownst to me, Medicare pays for it all.

That includes doctors, nurses (they visit once a week or more, if needed), a person to bathe your loved one three times a week, a chaplain every other week, a social worker to see how you are holding up, 24-hour service calls you can make, all the equipment (wheelchairs, oxygen, suction machine, air mattress, medicine, etc.) and it’s all covered by Medicare.

They also supply volunteers to sit with your loved one so that you have a little respite but they are pretty short staffed on that one.

For those of you contemplating the challenge, I say go for it.

If you find yourself losing patience with your loved one, I would recommend putting them in a facility. No one deserves to be treated disrespectfully because they can no longer care for themselves. There is a lot elder abuse along with child abuse that should never be tolerated.

Remember the Golden Rule. Always do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Herein lies the blessing.