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The Highs and Lows of Caregiving

The rewards of caring for a loved one more than make up for the challenges

Gil, Carolyn Knowles, Lucile "Lil Lady" Floyd, HIghs and Lows of Caregiving

Jared Soares

Gil and Carolyn Knowles along with Lucile "Lil Lady" Floyd at their home in Haymarket, Va.

Gilbert Knowles, 60, of Haymarket, Va., helps care for his 90-year-old mother-in-law.

Low point: All her life, she loved cooking Southern food, especially grits. But it's not safe for her to be in the kitchen now. The toughest choice we made was taking the knobs off the stove and telling her she couldn't cook anymore.

High point: We really enjoy hearing my mother-in-law sing. On Easter Sunday and Mother's Day, she leads our church choir in gospel solos, wearing one of her famous hats. It's great to see her so happy and at peace.

Brenda Case, Mary, Highs and Lows of Caregiving

Terry Ratzlaff

Caregiver Brenda Case shares a warm moment with her mother, Mary.

Brenda Case, 51, of Grand Junction, Colo., cares for her 78-year-old mother.

Low point: I'll never forget the weekend when I didn't visit my mom at the skilled nursing facility as I usually do. I left town to see my grandson on his first birthday. When I got back on Monday, she was so sick and her knee was swollen and infected. I felt so guilty.

High point: My mother really wanted to go to my daughter's wedding, so we made sure she did. We decorated her back brace with ribbons and flowers, and took her to the ceremony in a beautiful vineyard. That was a huge high for all of us.

Teresa Hernandez, The Highs and Lows of Caregiving

Angie Smith

Caregiver Teresa Hernandez with her mother, 93.

Teresa Hernandez, 61, of Montebelo, a Los Angeles suburb, takes care of her 93-year-old mother.

Low point: It's really difficult to see how much my mother has changed. She used to be a custom tailor and always went to work beautifully groomed in knit suits. So it breaks my heart when she doesn't care that she has a spot on her shirt or can't remember to brush her teeth.

High point: Recently, we adopted a greyhound-Chihuahua mix, Louis, who seems to have changed my mother's outlook and attitude. He jumps on her bed in the morning, and she just pulls him in and hugs him. I get such pleasure out of seeing that.

Main story: The Unexpected Joys of Caregiving. »