As caregivers, we know the ups and downs, the challenges and the joys of preparing meals, running errands, working with medical personnel, providing social support, balancing caregiver and career responsibilities, and...well, the list goes on and on because we do it all for the people who need us!
I became a caregiver for my father several years ago. He had started to lose his eyesight and his memory and could no longer drive or be left at home alone. And though I knew where and how to get help, it was still difficult as a long distance caregiver and emotionally frustrating to honor his wishes and yet take what I knew would be the best care of him.
Thankfully, the time I spent with my father was delightful. And my siblings and I grew closer--we had to work as a team to coordinate our travel schedules, communicate the latest medical orders, and ensure that the financial responsibilities of my parents were covered.
My father took a turn for the worse in 2014 and died last June. I had spent many days and nights with him in hospice, singing and reading to him, letting him know we would be ok. And yet, I was not prepared--my heart is still broken, especially when I remember the last time we were all together--Thanksgiving 2013.
I would gladly take care of my father again...which helps me grieve his loss. I also have access to the vast caregiving resources available through AARP, including a toll free number I can call for help with my mother--1-877-832-8262. It has also been good for me to talk about the memories--to tell my story and read the stories of others at AARP's Iheartcaregivers website. If you have a caregiving story, please share it. I will read each one and support you on this journey!
Maren Turner, Director, AARP Kansas