My mother is getting older, and I know she’ll need more help in the future. It’s a balancing act to care for my mother, work two jobs, and live my own life.
To help my mom, I go to the grocery store each week, take her to doctor and dentist appointments, take her to family gatherings, and do weekly visits. My dad passed away six years ago.
When my mom fell and broke her hip three years ago, I knew it was time to move her out of her mobile home in Chaska and into a senior apartment in Waconia. I remember talking on the phone to my oldest brother about our mom. I told him the Ten Commandments say to honor your father and your mother. I was trying to get him to realize caring for our mom is a privilege and a responsibility.
It is a sacrifice to help our family members and friends. But in the circle of life, we are interdependent. We need each other. I do not help my mom to receive recognition or a pat on my back. I assist my mom because I love her and appreciate her for raising me.
According to demographer Douglas Wolf (Sept. 4, 2022), an estimated 22 to 26 million American adults currently provide care for family members or friends. More than half of those caregivers have jobs.
My husband would like me to work full-time, but I have too many additional responsibilities outside of work. I am a power of attorney for my mom and a friend I have known for almost 30 years.
Wolf said that when California adopted paid leave in 2004, the law helped people to stay on the job, but they took enough time off to keep their parents out of a nursing home. Wolf has other studies that show paid sick leave also helps increase family caregiving.
Caring for family members or friends can be stressful. Here are tips, from Mayo Clinic, for taking care of yourself and managing caregiver stress:
• Accept help. Prepare a list of ways others can help you, and let the helper choose what they would like to do. Get family members, especially siblings, to help too.
• Focus on what you can provide. It is normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a perfect caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can.
• Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps you can do one at a time. For example, say no to draining requests, such as hosting holiday meals.
• Get connected. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many communities have classes about the disease your family or friend is facing. In addition, caregiving services such as transportation, meal delivery, or housekeeping may be available.
• Join a support group. A support group can provide encouragement and problem-solving strategies for difficult situations.
• Seek social support. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even for a walk with a friend.
• Set personal health goals, and make extra time for self-care. When you take care of yourself, you will give yourself the health and energy you need to care for your family member or friend.
I get worried about how I will care for my mom when she needs more help. I feel pressure to stay healthy so I can attend to her. Also, as a country, we urgently need to find ways to care for our aging population.
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