My siblings are wonderful. I know from many of you that I’m lucky to have engaged siblings who will and can help. As we rolled into Christmas, my siblings came to town to visit with my Mom so I could spend time with my husband’s family who would be visiting us.
Initially, I still got a few calls from Mom when she was confused by a call and didn’t know how to reach my brother or sister, but for nearly three days, I did not get one phone call. On the third day — I started to ignore my mobile phone (it was Christmas Day) since my kids and husband were all with me and I knew my Mom was in the company of my sister. As soon as my sister’s flight left, the calls began.
I believe my Mom calls me when she is lonely, which only reignites concern over her well-being. I’m thankful she is in an Assisted Living facility, but can’t imagine anyone being in one without a family that visits, calls or advocates for their loved one. The fact that she is already in a place prepared to support her and that it is one she choose makes my caregiver duties much lighter, but it does add a level of complication. There are things that happen that we learn of second-hand, can’t control and don’t like.
However, I recognize the toll of my constant concern as the only local family member as well as the guilt that I’m not visiting her daily are taking on me and know that I need to give myself more breaks. I can’t make up for my Mom’s lack of short-term memory by calling more, I can’t feel guilty that I don’t visit more, but I can love her and be mindful of her needs.
One of the best tools I found to manage was using Google Calendar for my family scheduling. When I started to feel overwhelmed by raising my children well, caring for my parents and work, I worked with a life coach. She helped me develop my priority system. I use that to determine what goes on my schedule and review it quarterly to ensure I’m not neglecting key elements of my life. My husband and children all use the calendar to stay in synch. It works well for us.
A change in the routine of life can be eye-opening. Helping my Mom is such a daily part of my life, I didn’t recognize until I stepped away for a few days how much mental time I spent on the topic. It was nice to have the mental break. Recognized.
Thank you to my siblings — and all of those friends and caring individuals who continue to pay visits and write letters to my Mom.