I learned a lot about caregiving from my mom. When I was 10 my father got sick. He had surgery and was okay for a couple of years. But then the cancer returned. I watched my mom take care of him for the next few years. He died when I was 16.
Soon after my grandparents needed more attention so they moved in with us and once again my mom became a caregiver. This time I was able to help out more as I was out of school. I was available to stay home with them so my mom could run errands and get a break.
I became familiar with support groups when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. Shortly after surgery and chemo I attended my first support group meeting. Listening to all the stories made me feel as if I was reliving my own experience over and over again. I left in tears halfway through the meeting.
Then I learned that there would be speakers at the meeting and it was something I was interested in so I decided to try the support group again. I’m glad I did. People really care and understand what you’re going through because they have similar situations. I looked forward to the meetings to see how everyone was doing.
My daughter was born two months premature and my mom became a caregiver once again. My mom stayed with us for 10 months so I could get back to work. I think she really enjoyed it although I must admit she was a little leery of holding a 2-lb, 10-oz baby!
But now the caregiver needs care. My mom had a severe stroke in Oct 2013. She was in ICU for 4 days and then on to rehab. She was in a facility for 3 months before we were able to bring her home. My sisters and I have been taking care of her ever since. We try to walk her every day even though she can only take a few steps at a time. She has aphasia and we can’t understand what she’s trying to say but we work with her doing flash cards so she can try to say the words. We laugh a lot when the words don’t come out quite right.
I was fortunate enough to find a caregiver support group shortly after my mom’s stroke. Unlike my first attempt at a support group this time I was better prepared and knew what to expect. It’s a place where I can vent, cry, and laugh if I want to, or just be there and listen and give support to others. From the group I’ve learned about resources that are available to my mom. I look forward to the meeting every week. It’s good to be able to talk with people who care and have an understanding of the challenges of caregiving.