Caregiving. It's something I never gave much thought to. I have seen others find themselves in a situation where a parent can no longer care for him/herself and hard choices have to be made. Some decide that their parent would do best in a nursing home. Others think that assisted living is best. It gives their parent a little more independence while receiving the extra care they need. Then there are some who decide that a home attendant would be best. That way their parent can remain in their home and receive the care they need. Some feel that being able to remain at home helps in their overall physical and emotional health. And lastly, there are those who take it upon themselves to be the caregiver their parent needs. This can stem from three reasons: the idea of having a home attendant is not feasible, the desire of the parent to want to stay in his or her home, or the parent moves in with their children.
I was thrust into the role of caregiver when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. It was something that hit my mother like a mac truck, all her symptoms presenting in the period of three months. Three short months which stole her ability to live independently. My mother, who was always on the move, suddenly found herself needing a walker, needing someone to help her bathe, needing someone to make sure she made it to all her numerous appointments and properly took all her medications. Aside from her diagnosis, the loss of independence devastated her. I, too, found myself feeling devastated. However, I pushed that feeling aside and went into crisis mode. I felt like I was heading up a command center coordinating everything. I made sure she went to the best doctors, got all the tests she needed done, and provided her with the home care she needed. It never entered mine or my mother's mind to seek out a home attendant. Nor did we consider an assisted living facility. I knew that Mom wanted to stay in her home and maintain as much independence as she could. She felt the best medicine for her was to be in her own home. I didn't totally agree, but I respected her wishes.
Living with the reality of my new role hasn't been easy, but neither is dealing with cancer.