Don’t Try This Alone — Thanks from a Caregiver

During recent weeks, we’ve done a lot to help my mom enjoy the holidays. Caring for her at home has allowed us to create many special moments like Mom’s visit with her sisters, a trip to New York, and a surprise birthday party. But we would never be able to keep her here and do all these things without a fleet of helpers who assist with so many aspects of her care. For this year of care and these happy holidays, we thank:

1. Special transit bus drivers! — These people keep a tough schedule and help many people overcome mobility barriers. We are so lucky that our drivers include people like Snuffy, who is older than some of his passengers, but hums with the joy of a kid.  Mom seems to glow in his presence. And Cathy? — she is like an old family friend.

2. Bus dispatchers — I can’t count the number of times my mom has gotten scared or disoriented on the bus and demanded to be taken home. The dispatchers guide the bus drivers through tense moments and re-arranged her schedule so mom can travel with friends who keep her calm.

3. Adult Day Care assistants — The people at my mom’s center in Palmerton are patient, cheerful, and skilled at helping elders with a wide range of problems. My mom feels safe and cared for, and she’s had the chance to build deep friendships which have totally changed her life.

4. Neighbors — Ever had to make this call: “Help! I’m stuck in traffic! Can you be there when mom’s bus gets in?” Or how about this one, “I’m at the end of my rope. Do you have wine or should I bring my own?”, or my personal favorite, “We need a laugh. Can you bring your best jokes over to our porch?”

5. Friends — They distract us with tales of their growing kids. They are not afraid of tears. Sometimes they cry too … and even share their tissues. They always know which TV shows and bank cashiers to avoid.

6. “Consequential Strangers” — the lady in the post office, the lady in the bakery — people you barely know who always find a way to make you feel good. They give you the prettiest stamps, or a free doughnut for mom.

7. Other caregivers — We are never really alone. People share stories about caring for their spouses, their parents. The deep spiritual aspects of this journey are real — and not just to me. It’s a sacred duty shared by many who understand it better than I do.

8. Incredible medical professionals — The nurses, doctors,  technicians, social workers and aides who bring knowledge and patience to the care process. Their expertise helps a novice like me face a job for which I never studied.

9. Family members — Siblings who share the work, the tears, and good ideas that improve care process. I know there are families out there where people don’t get along and the burdens aren’t shared. But it’s never too late to mend your fences and start working together.

10. Our higher power — We might call it by different names — so I’ll let you  insert your own. Those moments of spiritual peace keep our fortress of care from crumbling.

The list may stop here, but the gratitude does not.  This job is too hard and too important to be done by one person. My family is thankful for all those made our year of family care possible.

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