Taking care of elderly parents can be a demanding and sometimes unrewarding task. It doesn’t make all that much difference whether you have your parents in an assisted living center and feel the pinch of finding the time for frequent visits, or whether you have them at home with you. The sense of responsibility; the isolation you can feel; and the lack of gratitude overwhelms many caregivers.
For some seniors no matter what their caregivers do for them it is never enough. If you visit twice a week it is not enough; and if you visit once a day they complain that you do not leave them alone. If they are in your home, the food you prepare is never right and the way you are raising your own children is totally wrong.
No matter your own personal experiences with care giving, you need to step back and take pride in what you are doing. You are there for your seniors and you remain there whether they make the job of care giving easy or difficult. You should be proud of that.
Not all seniors are lucky enough to have someone like you around to help them. I ran into a couple in their late 80’s in that situation last spring. They are totally alone, dependent on neighbors, not family, for assistance.
While walking my dogs I found Lou, the husband, struggling with a hose reel so he could water his prize roses. I helped him out and learned he had a daughter in Tucson from whom he gets a Christmas card once a year and a son an hour away in a south Chicago suburb whom he never sees. He has another neighbor across the street he was able to call for help and I added my contact information as well.
I went by there every day with the dogs just to see how things were going for him. Lou’s yard is spectacular and I helped with the weeding and fertilizing while his other neighbor took care of the mowing and hedge trimming. Some days we did nothing more than chat awhile over the fence.
At the end of the summer, a full week went by without my running into him in his back yard. I knocked on the door and learned he was in the hospital. When I went to visit him, I discreetly inquired of one of the nurses if his son had come to visit. He hadn’t. Lou is home now but he and his wife are still alone.
In my humble opinion, his son should be ashamed of himself. Lou does not seem to be a difficult guy to get along with and his wife is a jewel of a woman, but even if they were irascible and cranky, they deserve better.
So take a moment, look at yourself in the mirror, and be very proud of what you are doing for your seniors. You are there for them. You are doing the right thing, no matter how difficult it might be.