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Once a Caregiver, Always a Caregiver
for the Rest of Your Life

By Gema G. Hernŕndez

(Page 2 of 2)

There were several things that surprised me through this experience: No agency was able to handle everything my parents needed, no directory that I could buy or obtain to find services, no public knowledge and support for what I was doing, no recognition from my employer, no place that I could go to just “ventilate” my emotions. 

The insensitivity of the “system,” the indifference of the processor, the superiority of some entities, and the helplessness experienced while caregiving were all emotions I felt as a caregiver. Some of the most difficult moments for me included my father’s inability to speak at the end of his life while having complete awareness of his environment, contrasted with my mother’s being unaware of her environment. The fact that she died alone still hurts me.

People talk about compassion, but when it is time for them to exhibit that characteristic, few know how to do it. And caregivers need compassionate people around them. Being a caregiver for my parents has taught me never to take for granted the health that I have, the mobility I possess and the agility of my mind. It has taught me to live my life everyday to its fullest because retirement may, or may not, be there for me as I have planned it. Being a caregiver has convinced me of the value of prevention and early medical intervention. It has given me a different outlook on life—more patience, more compassion, more respect for our elders and more courage to fight for other caregivers like myself.

I was technically a caregiver for 18 years, but I will always feel and think as a caregiver for the rest of my life.


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