Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Thing We Dread The Most

This was not a good day for those who are caregivers for their elderly relatives.

Someone I know returned from some time off and told me that her mother in law, who is in her 90's, fell and broke her collarbone right before Christmas.  This fiercely independent woman now requires 24 hour care.  The family had to scramble to find this care, with no idea how they are going to pay for it.

Today, several of us, mostly single, got into a discussion concerning how we would be taken care of when we grow old.  We hope so we won't give our caregivers the same heartburn as our elderly give us, but we know that won't be true.

And, my brother and sister in law called.  They visited my mother in law over New Years.  We had visited over Christmas, but had to leave earlier than expected due to a winter storm bearing down on us.  My in laws had more time to visit and interact with my mother in law on their visit than we did the week before.  Their report expanded on some things (not good things) we had observed. (My brother and law and I live about 1/2 hour from each other, and my mother in law is about 3 hours away from us.  It can be an impossible distance when the weather is bad.)  Action is needed.

What is the thing we dread the most?  I don't think many of us in our 50's and 60's dread death itself as much as we dread the dying process.  Some of us are fortunate enough to be raised by loving parents, or find in laws we grow to love as much as our natural parents.  Some of us come to this stage out of duty.  Either way, so many of us, during our lives, will be caregiving for elderly parents or in laws.  Or both.  We see how once energetic, involved, vital, people fade away physically.  Or mentally.  Or, worst of all, both.

For me and my spouse, there is another involved party.  His brother, my brother in law, is developmentally disabled with a condition called autism.  He's lived with his mother all this time because my mother in law wanted it that way. And now, his future is up in the air, too.

Up to now, I haven't blogged much about this part of my life, because I've felt that younger readers would not be interested.  But, this is part of my life and I now need to share it with my readers.  I had thought of starting a different blog just for this part of my life, but caregivers don't have time for two blogs, much less one.   So I have decided to report on this the same way I report on gardening, post my photography, and discuss and other things in my life.

I hope you will join me on this new, double journey - increased caregiving to my mother in law, and increased involvement with my brother in law.

Have you had the experience of caregiving for your elderly parents or in laws yet?

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