Sunday, November 2, 2008

Child As The Caregiver



Who ever thought I'd be the one taking care of my parents? I know I didn't think so. Yet, here I am – in my 50's and I'm the mom now. My dad has a bad heart, it only works at 20%. On top of that he is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. My mom just recovered from kidney failure, is hard of hearing and can't take care of my dad all by herself. I have a brother who lives right across the street from them, but he's got his own family to take care – kids and grandkids. He works all day in a factory and frankly, he's shot by the end of the day. I live two miles away on the farm. My husband works in Chicago and gets home when he can – not often enough.


I work from home. It is often misconstrued that I don't work at all. How can sitting on the computer and on the phone in the comfort of your living room be considered working? This is the discussion I used to have with my father. He's a retired farmer. Work involves leaving your house. He just couldn't understand what it was that I did.
Then my internet service went out. I had to work from their house for a week. One week solid of the phone calls that start at 7 a.m. and go until 10 at night. I wear a headset and walk around the house talking – often appearing as I'm talking to myself. By Thursday my dad said I couldn't work at his house anymore. I was making him crazy! All I did was talk and type, talk and type. Half the time he didn't know if I was talking to him or not. It was an enlightening experience for him – he finally 'got' what I did.


Often my work can be done anywhere – as long as I have my phone and my laptop. That's why I'm the designated one to take my folks on their myriad of doctors appointments. I'm also the designated driver for long trips. This week we go to South Dakota for a funeral. I make the hotel arrangements, doctors appointments, follow up calls, calls to church members for events my mom is involved in, calls to family members for updates – I do all the calling. Both mom and dad wear hearing aids and the telephone is no longer their friend.


I take mom and dad on working trips with me. I recruit and set up accounts for an Inc. 500 company that provides non-toxic products to consumers. It often involves traveling to make presentations. It's good for them to be involved in what I do. I'm able to pay my mom for her time. She feels useful. Any day spent walking in any way is good for my dad.


I'm also the ears when they need someone to listen to the experts. We have farm business, house business and church business where my hearing is needed. I also help fill out legal paperwork, conduct banking business and ensure their doctors are kept abreast of what is going on.


I don't know what the future will hold. I do know I read a lot about how to take care of the caregiver. Apparently, depression and isolation are two things that happen often when the child becomes the caregiver. It's very important that I do have a life of my own, outside of their care. I volunteer with the Democratic party and the Historical Society. I write – my blog, for a newsletter and personal projects.
My business pays me to do what I am passionate about – helping people become green. I work with consumers who want to make a change in their lives – for the better. That's rewarding! I am also becoming involved with social media – hooray! Who knew that this place we call the internet would grow into the animal that it is? Who knew that one day it might very literally save my life?

3 comments:

kathryn Jennex said...

What a full life you lead! I really like the sincerity and honesty so obvious in your writing and the lists :)

Randy Rainer said...

Hi Deb. I applaud you for what you are doing and certainly feel for you and what you are going through. In our past conversations we have built an understanding with regards to what we thought our lives would lead, and the true path they have taken. Just know and understand that through every trial there is a verdict...not by man but by our Lord. We know and understand our obligations, and at times question the hardships placed before us. There is a reason and a purpose. We may not truly understand the paths we have been led down, but in the end we know and will cherish our reward.

Randy

Deb said...

Kathyrn - thank you! I've been taught the truth is good enough, I try to live by that.

Randy - as always, thank you for your friendship - and your comments hit home for me. God bless.