Friday, April 20, 2018

BEING A LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVER


BEING A LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVER


Quite a few years ago I recall defending myself from some other caregivers. They thought I did not qualify to be mom's caregiver since I lived far away. They thought that I did not care for her in the same way that they did. Their words stung me deeply and had me momentarily question myself.

I certainly felt compassion for their situation, yet I too, had the agony of hearing and seeing my mother disappear in front of my very eyes. One moment she knew my name and the next she had no idea who I was. My heart felt equally broken as theirs and I questioned why would they judge me?

Was I any less of a daughter to my mother because I did not live near her? Unfortunately, I could not just pick up and move to another state, and my mother refused to leave her home. I am my mother's daughter and that will never change, no matter how many miles may separate us.

Before moving mom into the nursing home for years I spoke to her caregivers every single day to hear how she was doing and to help plan her day. I questioned what she ate, if she took her vitamins and if she gave them a hard time when she was being bathed. I also delighted in hearing how mom loved to sing along to the CD'S that I made for.

There were moments when mom sounded great and there were other times when I was so frightened yet unable to just jump in my car and rush over to her. I remember when they called an ambulance to take mom to the emergency room after her aides discovered she had bruises (from a fall) that she could not tell us about. Then there were the times she was hallucinating which was due to a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Once, when she was in the rehab hospital I spoke to the physical therapist who told me that my mother was not following instructions. I responded "how could mom possibly remember what you just said since she has Alzheimer's." The therapist answered, “oh I didn't know she had dementia.”

Then there was the time I received a call from a first response team who was not able to reach my brother. Mom's neighbors reported her "just sitting" outside her apartment on the curb. Her caregiver left for the day and because of confusion mom went to sit outside to wait for her. You would think that one of her neighbors would have just brought her back into her home. After all these years of knowing her how could they now just shun her like this?

The time was approaching to place mom into a nursing home my brother and I realizing she needed twenty-four hour care. Talk about feeling guilty and confused. How could we do this to mom? Her wishes were to stay in her home till she died.

Mom now has been in a nursing home for 5 ½ years and my brother and I know that it was the correct thing to do. I call often speaking to the nurses and always ask them to please go tell mom that her daughter Lisa called and send her love. I may only get to visit her every few months yet the staff knows that I take a very active interest in her well-being. Mom no longer knows where she is living yet my brother and I feel secure with the care that she is receiving.

So with deep thought my question is am I any less of a daughter than the others since I am a long distance caregiver? The answer is clear to me. I am my mother’s daughter and no matter how many miles apart we are the love and concern I have for her is as deep as the bottom of the ocean. She is my mother and I will always be her daughter, which also includes being her caregiver.



My new book "Letter To My Mom". It is the continuation of my first book "My Mom My Hero" Available Worldwide on Amazon in Paperback & Kindle.
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lisa+hirsch&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Alisa+hirsch


6 comments:

  1. You are absolutely a caregiver and you are no less a daughter even though you do not live near your mom. You love her, you care for her from a distance. That's the only difference.
    From one website: "Broadly defined, caregiver refers to any family member, partner, neighbor or friend who has a significant relationship with and/or provides assistance for an older individual."
    As I've written before, our situations are very similar. Many of the situations that you have written about have also happened to me.
    I live 975 miles from my mom. I visit her as often as I can afford (5-6 times a year). My sister lives near her and has medical POA. My mom has been in a nursing home for 6 years after she suffered a stroke. It was our only option but I still suffered terrible guilt over it.
    I am a "caregiver". If am "lucky" I speak with my mom a few times a week (sadly our daily chats are not possible now). I am involved in her care plan meetings and decisions with my sister. When I visit my mom I spend 6-7 hours with her each day (more time than my sister actually spends with her). I've also hired a "sitter" to visit a few times during the week to check up on things at the nursing home when my sister can't be there.
    So yes, we are caregivers and we are the best daughters we can possibly be.
    Much love and hugs to you!
    ~Barb

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    1. Barb, I feel like we could be "twins" or certainly "related". We do and have for quite a while many unfortunate similarities. I only wish for nicer reasons. As always xoxo

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  2. Of course you are not a bad daughter. This disease is horrible no matter what your circumstances. We all grieve the slow loss of our loved ones. It hurts whether you're up close or far away and everyone has their own situation and has to do what works for their family.

    That said, I will say that it is really different to be up close doing the heavy lifting every day with no breaks, dealing with sadness, aggression, hallucinations, escape attempts yourself (especially for those who are truly doing this alone) than it is to do it through an aid or a staff at a care facility. That doesn't mean it's bad or wrong or that you are a "bad" daughter (what a stupid thing for anyone to say to you!), but it IS different. Perhaps that is what people were reacting to. I don't say this to be mean, but because I've personally had it both ways. I had a grandfather with Alzheimer's and the experience of going to visit him and calling while someone else did the primary care was very different from being the one who is there all the time watching it happen up close and personal. It's a very different experience when you've given up a lot of your life and freedom to care for someone else. Either way, though, it's really difficult and we have to do what works for our situation and family and you just can't worry what anyone else thinks about that.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing. I greatly appreciate it. Hugs, Lisa

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  3. You are her daughter distance does not matter

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    1. Sharon I certainly and respect your comment and the last sentence is the one that means to most to me. "Either way, though, it's really difficult and we have to do what works for our situation and family and you just can't worry what anyone else thinks about that." Yes we are all in different situations like everything else in ones life. Thanks again for sharing. Hugs, Lisa

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