I have to admit that I had a meltdown this week-end. I was overwhelmed, exhausted and feeling very alone. Caregiving is tough enough; add to that the difficulties of menopause and the symptoms are magnified So I did what most girls would do (ok, maybe not most, but some). I went crying to my mother. While my father lives with me, my mother does not. They’ve been separated for several years but are still on good terms.
My mother’s solution was to say that SHE’LL take care of my Dad. Of course, all I really wanted was some sympathy, but now she has decided that my Dad will come to live with her and has already called to invite him ( read PERSUADE him). Well….
My Mom is 85 years old, is moving to CANADA next month (where she has not lived for more than 40 years and as such has not had to deal with winter driving) but she gets around well and is still pretty clear-thinking. My father, on the other hand, has dementia, heart failure (with pacemaker and implanted defibrillator), uses a walker, takes 8 different medications, tends to sleepwalk, is being placed on oxygen at night and …..I’m gonna say it, is stubborn (especially about power tools).
My first inclination was to say to my mother, “you can’t do it”. Well, needless to say, that didn’t go over well, which is probably why she went ahead and extended the invitation to him. Will I ever learn?
Ironically, I ran into my friend/mentor (who is a social worker) at Border’s bookstore the next day, where we were both gathering books on aging topics. She pointed out something that I’ve been contemplating since then. Because I have conservator/guardianship status over my father, I guess I have the final say, and, of course, it is my responsibility to make the best decision for my father. But…..is my ego getting in the way of letting my mother take care of my father (if, in fact, my father would choose to accept her invitation). Am I wanting to be the only one who is capable of care giving for him because it’s good for my ego?
I do believe that I’ll keep better track of his medications, monitor his cardiac status more accurately, be able to find more appropriate physicians here and that he’ll probably live longer if he stays with me but if my mother is able to provide care that is “good enough”, at this stage of the game, is that really important? Is it not akin to me letting him have his coffee and a little salt because of quality of life? Or should I take the fact that my father states that he wants to live to be 100 and do everything in my power to help that come true (as long as his quality of life is good) ?
Are any of you in the same position? Are there things that you continue to do for your loved one that another person could handle just as well, thus giving you more time for yourself and decreasing your stress level? Perhaps we need to look at our motivations for doing the things we do and consider whether or not they are ego-related.
In the meantime, I still have some thinking to do. : )
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