Monday, August 3, 2009

Enjoy the Lulls...

We are once again in a "lull" at my house, meaning things are going fairly well for the moment, and I am not complaining! So last week I took advantage of an extra hour to check up on messages in the Caregiving forum to which I belong on If you have never visited this website and investigated some of the forums there, you should do so as soon as possible. Great information - great people and suggestions - a winning combination for all of us! As I read through the messages, I was particularly struck by the post from a woman who is the main caregiver for her 73-year-old mother, who is on oxygen, uses a walker, has arthritis, scoliosis, heart problems, and has been plagued by severe depression and anxiety all of her life. There is a housekeeper, but the daughter is basically trying to manage this woman's care. In addition, she is rearing her own three sons, who are ages 18, 16 and 12. The oldest son has suffered from depression since 4th grade, and the middle son has high functioning autism. AND... she has a job, as well! Feeling better about your situation?

This woman was inquiring on the forums about hiring a CNA for in-home care. Her mother was concerned that there would not be enough work for an aide to spend four hours per day with her. I was still trying to digest that she is only 73 and has such serious problems. My own mother celebrated her 70th birthday this spring just before setting out for a summer of Workamping at an Opera camp and conducting interviews in the area during her spare time for articles to contribute to the half-dozen or better magazines for which she writes. And did I mention that her fourth book has just been published?! So being so debilitated at age 73 blew my mind for a moment... until I remember how debilitated my own maternal grandparents were in their 70s.

I also thought of my mother-in-law who is 83 and has recently taken a train trip to visit her 100-year-old aunt in another state. Additionally, she restored four antique trunks in recent months. And we haven't even gotten to my grandmother, who is "almost 97," as she points out readily. Last week when I visited, she had cooked cornbread, green beans, and a chocolate pie (and we're talking scratch here - no pudding mix for her filling!). So this really made me stop and think about how relative age is... and how easily someone can end up in the "Sandwich Generation" - especially if the health of a parent fails early in life or suddenly. I am truly grateful for my own situation and the relative health and activity level of the seniors in my life!

Saturday, my grandmother played dominoes all afternoon with her "buds" - a group of ladies who are almost all in their nineties. The party was hosted by a sweet little lady who has to be in her eighties at best and suffers from some form of cancer that is steadily taking her life. She is taking chemo treatments and spent the entire week in bed, but she rallied to host this domino party - she said getting ready and preparing snacks and desserts kept her mind off how badly she felt! Mam-ma got home from the party about 4:30 p.m., and I picked her up for the wedding of a young friend of my niece's at 5:30. The bride has been like another great-grand-daughter to Mam-ma, and the family had delegated a special seat for Mam-ma at the wedding and the reception... next to the family. Mam-ma had a ball and when I took her home at 8:30 p.m., she declared,"I'm really not all that tired... all I've done is sit!" I bet she slept like a baby! And speaking of babies, my great-nephew Timmy made his wedding debut Saturday night. The photos are of him with his mother AND his great-great-Mam-ma!!!

Speaking of family... the bride's mother is a single mom who reared this beautiful 19-year-old girl with the help of her parents. Now these parents are facing their own health issues and caring for their two adult sons, both physically and mentally challenged since birth and now in their late 40's or early 50's. Imagine planning a wedding while working nights as an RN and helping your parents care for these men and attend to their own failing health! I am thinking the mother of the bride may be ready for a straight jacket! And I am counting my blessings - aren't you?!


Terry said...

I just love to read about Mam-Ma and her antics. You amuse me with your good-humored descriptions of your frustrations with her assuming you have no schedule and can always be her taxi-service. I'm so glad you have these stong, hard-working women as your example. You are doing a great job of mimicking them. Have you read anything about the "credits" you can bank in China for helping the elderly there? You can get assistance when you need it later by cashing in credits? i saw a brief article on it a long time ago, but thought it was an interesting concept.

Debbie Robus said...

Terry... I've heard of the "credits" system in China but have not read any articles about it... very interesting concept. My Mam-ma often tries to press a $20 bill in my hand or says, "let me pay you for all you do for me." Of course, I refuse, so she usually finds something to send home with me... a couple of fresh tomatoes... last week it was chocolate pie... and of course, black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes!

I don't want payment for caring for my grandmother - even though I probably come across as terribly frustrated much of the time, being able to care for her truly IS my reward. Now THAT sounded noble, didn't it?! Seriously, I am thankful that I can afford to do this and don't NEED to be paid... but I do understand that many in my position could certainly use a little monetary compensation - and definitely might benefit later from "credit" that had accrued.

I am extremely blessed to have many strong, hard-working women as role models. I'm so glad you are reading the blog... do keep visiting! May God bless your day!