The Ultimate Caregiver
By Sara Hodon

When I think of the ideal caregiver, I immediately think of my grandmother.  She is pushing 80, and has spent her entire life caring for others.  I have known many professional caregivers in my lifetime and I can tell you, even some of those professionals have said that my grandmother set a high standard for them.

My grandmother is an R.N., and spent much of her working life as a private duty nurse, caring for the loved ones of others.  She and my grandfather had three children of their own, starting with my mother in 1953.  My mother had assorted health problems throughout her childhood, and my grandmother was right there with her, through her various treatments and long hospital stays. 

When I was born in 1979, Gram took care of me when my parents were at work.  In 1981, my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and, of course, both of my grandparents were there to help with her treatments and overall care as well as to help take care of me.  In 1985, my great-grandmother, Gramís mother, started showing signs of Alzheimerís.  She lived with my grandparents, and Gram cared for her until she died in 1992 at age 90.  Gram helped my aunt manage twins and now, when she should be taking better care of herself, she is helping my uncle with two toddlers. 

Gram has taken care of my mother as her condition steadily deteriorated.  When my father passed away in 1995, both of my grandparents stepped in to have a more daily role in her care.  I could (and often would) call them in the middle of the night if need be.  They took Mom to her doctorsí appointments and to physical therapy.  When Momís outside caregivers failed to show or called in sick, often it was my grandmother who filled in for them.  My participation was minimal compared to everything my grandmother did for her.  Since my motherís admission to a long-term nursing facility, my grandparents continue to visit her nearly every day.  It was a very difficult decision to move my mother out of the house and into a facility, and I know my grandmother still struggles with this daily.  Her visits are a way of still playing a role in her care, but still being ďMom,Ē too.    My mother always enjoys her company. 

In my opinion, they donít make too many like my grandmother these days. To me, she is the ultimate caregiver.  I often joke that she raised eight kidsóher own three, and playing such a large role in the lives of her five grandchildren.  She has also taken extra care with special people in her lifeónot only her patients, but other friends and relatives as needed. 

My grandmother is starting to slow down a bit, and the time has now come for the rest of us to step in and start taking care of her.  I only hope we do as good a job as she has done for all of us. 

 

Sara Hodon is a part-time writer based in Pennsylvania.  She was one of her motherís caregivers for many years and currently works for a nonprofit organization. 

 

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