Stories from Caregivers: Patricia from DC
I care for my mother, Lucille, a breast cancer survivor. She suffers from crippling arthritis rendering her unable to walk. She is still sharp in mind and a joy to be around. Also, a never-ending mom who worries about her babies. The most difficult part is missing grocery store shopping that we used to enjoy. Now I only have time to run to the store and get what's needed, no time to browse. But as I type this, I realize we do spend quality time eating together. But I really miss hanging out. Took her to the casino recently and totally enjoyed seeing her have a great time. I have cast my life so into her that I find myself feeling guilty if I go out. She encourages me to have fun, but I hate her sitting alone. I wish family would realize what a fifteen-minute visit means to an elderly person. My dad passed away in 2001 at the age of 74. I promised my mother at that time that if she ever needed me I would be there for her. She became my hangout partner, grocery shopping on the weekends, doing hair at her house, sharing meals, etc. I noticed that she was slowing down, I had to start doing these things for her, not with her. She developed crippling arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis. She was constantly in pain. I started coming over every day to fix her meals and did chores around her house. One day I was so tired, I asked her would she be okay fixing herself something to eat or let me order her something to be delivered to her house. It was the opening of school and I worked so hard that week and it had taken a toll on me! The next day, I took time out to call and check on her. She said, "Oh... I am okay, had a little peanut butter. Couldn't get the jelly opened and my hands were hurting so I just ate some off the spoon." I cried silently. I have three other siblings that won't do anything to help out. I went to them asking for their help because this was taking a toll on me. They went to her and told her they were putting her in a facility. She cried and cried, so I made a decision to rent out my house and move in with her. I told them to leave her alone, I got this. I want her to live the rest of her life happy. That was about 5 years ago. I love living with my mom. Still tired, but I can go to my room and sleep instead of traveling from DC to Upper Marlboro every day! My own children have grown closer to my mom and they have proven that they are worth more than gold. Always there to help me out when needed. I have found that getting her the help she needs is not easy to find. I just happen to start a chat with a woman on the bus and found out about Washington Hospital Center's elder care program. They are a Godsend. They have shared so many resources that have helped me in so many ways. I love living with my mom. I can sleep knowing that she is okay. She is happier as well. I never let her see me frustrated. I understand that it gets annoying to her to not be able to do the things that she once did so anytime she has an accident soiling herself, or needs help getting up and down, or anything I make sure she is not embarrassed. I make a joke of it! When she says she hates to have me doing certain things for her, I say Mom, I am going to be a big burden on my kids. I am going to take advantage of them! You better get on this train ride and ride it out while you can! She just laughs and tells me she is going to warn them. I am glad to be spending this time making her comfortable and happy. I have learned so much from her. As for my siblings, they can have the end (I don't even want to think about it). I am just so glad I have her and can make her smile everyday.