Possibly you yourself have been a caregiver for a family member, a dear friend, or have known a caregiver and understand this is an enormous undertaking. In my own life I have had this experience three times – as a co-caregiver with my Mom caring for my Dad when he had Cancer, as a solo caregiver for my Mom as she declined with age then having a severe stroke and unable to care for herself at all. And here in Mexico, caring for my husband as he declined. The main thing I learned is that you cannot take on these ‘new’ responsibilities and challenges alone.
With each caregiver position I have had it was a different situation presenting different responsibilities and things to be done and researching what kind of help and support might be available. With my Dad’s care my role was respite support for my Mom on a regular basis. With my Mom, I was totally responsible while I worked full time also. My decision in that situation was choosing not to admit my Mom to a care facility but provide full time care in her own home. Initially she was mentally alert, keeping up with the news, etc.. but needed some help with physical things. At first I started with an agency, which at times was not satisfactory. I decided that I had to make other arrangements especially after I learned that only 20 % of the hourly fee I was paying the agency [which was not inexpensive] was going to the caregiver herself; without that person receiving any benefits. Through a bit of researching I found a young Mexican woman named Grace, who had some previous caregiver experience, but I knew it was impossible for her to take on 24/7 full time care. Grace suggested her Mom and Aunt as a possibility. I met with Grace, her Mother and Aunt and we formed a team. Grace’s Mom and Aunt did not have any formal training but had experience in caring for their own aged family members. They were caring, kind and loving to my Mom, and they just needed to be taught specific care skills, which they learned quickly. Grace and her family became part of our family. Thinking back about that situation that I had created to meet my Mom’s needs, I had indirectly applied those possibilities for my future living here in Mexico as I age in place.
When I cared for my husband here, I was not able to take care of everything by myself for a prolonged period of time. Fortunately, I had the support of my extended Mexican family so I got respite time for myself. However, sometimes the time comes and you truthfully know that caring for your loved person at home, is not the best for that person or yourself. It is always a difficult decision, but you make that decision for the right reason. You have to be honest in your feelings acknowledging that ’your’ person needs more required care than you and even with support, can be safely and adequately provided at home. You also may have to deal with human feelings of: helplessness, grief, ‘guilt’ in making this decision, hearing negative comments from others, possibly including family members, having the feeling of being a ‘failure’ for not being able to handle all that is needed, maybe breaking a silent or said-out-loud promise that the person will stay at home till the end, and etc..
Pride aside – ask for help, and talk with other caregivers for moral support, who understand exactly what you’re going through. Also keep in mind, one of the major responsibilities of being a caregiver is: ‘self-survival’. Next month’s article – Guidelines when you are choosing a Care Facility.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com
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