Caregiving Stories

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Through the challenges and rewards of caring for an older relative, it often helps to hear from other families: the obstacles they have faced and what pulled them through the hard times. Below are some stories from people who have dealt with situations perhaps similar to your own.

Bringing church home

My aunt has always been a religious woman. With her condition (congestive heart failure) she was not able to attend church. I live out of state, so I couldn’t take her. She got depressed. Understandably. She read the Bible at home. And we would pray together when we talked on the phone. But that wasn’t enough. Finally I called her church and talked to the pastor. It turns out they had just set up a caring circle project where members of the congregation come out to visit. They pray and sing together. (And truthfully she gets to catch up on the gossip.) The pastor also makes it a point to come visit now and then. It’s made a world of difference for my aunt. Even though she can’t go to church, a little bit of the church is now coming to her.

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Helping with the heavy lifting

Dad had ALS. As time progressed, he was less and less able to care for himself. Dad is a big man, and Mom has arthritis. She also has problems sleeping and is not very strong. She was getting exhausted with all the things she had to do for Dad. For instance, one day when she was helping him get out of the shower, he was wet and slippery and almost fell on the cold hard tile. Mom threw her back out catching him. It was just too much to care for him alone. That’s when we decided to get outside help. Now a caregiver comes to the house several times a week to help out and give Dad a bath. That alone is worth its weight in gold! Mom is freed from the hard physical labor and can concentrate on giving him her loving attention. I just wish we had reached out sooner. Getting outside help has been good for both Mom and Dad!

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Relief from suffering

When Pop was sick, the hardest thing for me was seeing him in pain. We had medications to give him, but we were worried he would get addicted. We had a care manager who came out and taught us several things we could do. She had the doctor order a patch that kept Dad comfortable most of the time. And with hot compresses, we were able to relieve the sharp pains he would get now and then above his bladder. She also taught us some relaxation exercises we could do with him. We learned from her that people who are in pain don’t get addicted mentally the way people who aren’t in pain do. I guess the body knows the difference. That was a relief! I couldn’t bear to see him suffer.

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