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One Daughter's Story:
Caring for a Parent in my Home
By Kristine Dwyer, LSW, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 3)

Caregiving can begin with a momentís notice, as Beth discovered. Her elderly mother, widowed and living independently in the Midwest, had suffered a disabling stroke. Beth, the youngest of six children, willingly responded since she lived closer than her siblings did and felt capable of providing help. Once the health crisis stabilized, Beth moved her mother four hundred miles across the state and into her home with her husband and two preschool-age children. This is where she began her journey as a caregiver.

Initially, Beth felt confident about her new role as a caregiver for her mother. She wanted to offer the same love and support that her mother had given to her over the years. She optimistically assumed her mother would get well in a short time, would return home and continue living independently. All intentions were good and it seemed everything was going in the right direction. She hadnít anticipated, however, the possibility of a second small stroke and pneumonia, the stress on herself, and her family or her motherís need for on-going medical care and rehabilitation. Financial and legal issues were also unclear as Beth attempted to manage her motherís affairs. Weeks turned to months and Beth and her family found themselves facing new and unexpected challenges.

As time went on, Beth now felt an uncertainty about her role as a caregiver. She noticed changes in her motherís memory, patience and daily moods. She also showed signs of depression and strongly missed her own home, church and social life amongst friends. It became clear that her mother was not happy living with her and coping with her familyís busy and often hectic schedule. Beth began to lose patience and noticed the effects on her own health, marriage, and ability to parent two young children.

The choice of providing care for her mother was also taking an emotional toll on the mother/daughter relationship. An unfamiliar role emerged as Beth found herself ďparentingĒ her own mother and she felt very unsettled with her feelings. In addition, her mother faced the uncertainty of her own role in her daughterís household as it related to meals, kitchen duties and daily decisions. They were both caught in a struggle they were not prepared for as adults.

Six months of caregiving finally gave way to a difficult reality as Beth questioned whether she could continue to make sacrifices and care for her mother in her home. She began to struggle between her feelings of guilt, resentment and what was best for her mother, her own family, marriage and needs as a mother and young woman. She realized the life she once knew was slipping away and the time had come to reevaluate everyoneís needs.


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