Patty and I took mom to a Caregivers’ Support Group meeting at the Winter Park Library, yesterday. Only one other person attended so mom got much needed attention from Linda, the facilitator. She shed a few tears, which was a good thing, and was reminded that she has to take care of herself as well as dad. We all went over the following Caregivers’ Bill of Rights…
The right to live our
own life, to retain our dignity
and sense of self.
The right to choose a
plan of caring that accommodates our needs and the
needs of those we care about.
The right to be
recognized as a vital and stabilizing source within our
The right to be free
of guilt, anguish and doubt, knowing that the
decisions we make are appropriate for our own
well-being and that of our loved one.
The right to love ourselves enough to have the confidence to do
the best we are able.
Linda talked about “choosing our own battles” and letting some issues go, unless they result in a safety problem. A perfect example of this presented itself the other day when dad got out of the shower with his hair in disarray (more than usual). He had the bottle of shampoo by the sink and obviously had not rinsed it out of his hair. Mom kept trying to tell him he needed to get back into the shower and rinse it
out, but he refused, stating he needed to put more in. After much wrangling, he finally figured it out and begrudgingly got back in the shower. As crazy as it sounds, if he would have continued to argue the point, what would it really have hurt if he had just gone to bed with a head full of un-rinsed shampoo? It wasn’t a life-threatening issue and he probably would have realized his mistake upon waking the next morning. It’s kind of like raising children…how many times have you heard, “Choose your own battles”?
The other person in attendance is in an interesting situation. One week a month, she lives with, and cares for, her sister’s mother-in-law. Figure that one out…her sister’s husband’s mother. Several in the immediate and extended family devote a week at a time, 24/7, to care for this woman so she can stay in her own home. There is funding for this through her long-term care insurance and they receive $100 a day to care for her. It’s an interesting concept and one that might become more popular as more and more “boomers” have issues with mental and physical problems requiring full time assistance.
Linda suggested mom keep attending, sometimes alone, I’m guessing so she might open up a little more without my sister and I in the same room. The dynamics of a family make it difficult to really empathize with mom as he is our father…not the same as being her husband. I’m hoping she’ll keep going back to the group, with or without us, as it seemed to have a positive impact on her emotions and mood.
Thanks for sharing that experience. It’s good advice to “choose your battles” regardless of the situation with our aging parents. Arguing serves little purpose but sometimes my “need to be right” character defect surfaces and I find myself in the middle of what could be a battle until I wave the white flag of surrender.
Mom’s having a real issue with that, Faye, and wants to correct everything he says that might be questionable. If the statement is just left alone, nothing happens…a rebuttal always means a fight.