Retired Special Education Teacher and Caregiver says:
Take care of yourself first!
My name is Judi and I am a caregiver for my 90-year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s and my 96-year-old father who is bedridden and unable to walk.* Both of my parents are incontinent and spend most of their days in a wheelchair or in bed.
I am a retired Special Education teacher and have worked with physically and mentally handicapped children; however, taking care of parents is a much harder job.
I lived in denial for a year.
I lived with my parents for a year, devoting each day of my life to caring for them. I got up when they got up, ate when they ate, and slept when they slept. During this time, I lived in denial about accepting help as it got more difficult to care of them by myself.
I recognize now that I couldn’t continue
- searching for mother when she wandered off for hours.
- cleaning up after my dad had a diverticulitis attack.
- denying that my mother’s condition was worsening.
She repeatedly left the stove on, the refrigerator open, or the house unlocked.
She mixed up her morning and evening medication or forgot to take them even after I made it very simple and clear when and where she could find them.
Mother’s refusal of help from others caused resentment.
My mother’s stubbornness didn’t allow her to accept help from “outsiders,” which put a lot of pressure on me to be there for her at all times, causing resentment. I became depressed, angry, and short-tempered; unaware of how I was losing control of my life and my own health.
It became a serious and dangerous problem.
I eventually had to face reality and the horrible truth–I needed help. I have unconditional love for my parents, but knew the resentment would eventually eat away at me, and I had to take care of myself FIRST before I could take care of them.
It was not easy persuading them that I needed help.
The help I needed was time for myself. I needed my life back. It wasn’t easy but I moved them into a care center. One of the ways I was able to relieve stress was to get the support I needed from other caregivers and by playing online games. One of the sites I found to socialize on the Internet for a half hour to an hour each day was Winster.com. This site provides a friendly outlet for me to decompress and forget about problems momentarily, while chatting with other caregivers in a similar situation.
Support groups help.
Support groups help me feel less alone and provide a safe environment for me to share my feelings and discuss the challenges and rewards associated with being a caregiver. We listen to each other and share tips on ways to cope with problems. I have developed a strong network of friends on Winster.com and my life has changed positively thanks to the support and positive reinforcement my group has given me.
I am much happier now and the experience is a lot more rewarding nowadays.
The care center where my parents now live is conveniently located a short distance from my home, which makes it easy for me to visit them almost every day. When I visit my parents, I play the piano for them and the rest of the community members to enjoy, and I help them around in the kitchen and assist them while they eat. It’s been almost three years since I’ve this journey began. Being a part of my parents’ lives is more precious and gratifying than ever before.
I love my parents and feel blessed to have them in my life!
Lee’s Summit, Missouri
To learn more about Judi’s online experience, visit: Winster.com