Caring for our Parents at Home

If you are able to take care of a loved one at home, I would highly recommend it. Our parents raised us and at one time or another we will have to take care of them. Our situation reverses when we become the parent and they become the child, this is just a figure of speech. We want to keep them independent as long as possible. This is my story.

I cared for my late husband’s mother, who was in her 80’s, for three years, (he was an only child). She was quite a challenge for me but it was something we had to do. We never wanted to place her in a nursing home.

We wanted to move out of state and found a home with a cottage on the property. We brought her up to see the property and she liked the idea of being with us and having her own place.

We remodeled the cottage for her and when it was done she moved in. She said it was her castle and she loved it. She lived alone for many years and never had her own home, so she was very excited to have her very own place.

Our agreement was that she would cook her own breakfast and lunch and she would have dinners with us. (We made this type of agreement because she stayed up late and slept late.) We didn’t want to change her schedule that she had for herself for many years.

I cleaned her cottage once a week and I did her laundry. The biggest challenge was giving her a bath. She always told me, “she didn’t do anything to get dirty, so why did she need a bath”. I told her I could understand her logic but she still needed a bath. I told her she would feel good when she was cleaned up and her hair washed. I would finally get her in the tub and she loved it. (She didn’t like showers.) I put bubble bath in the water and she really didn’t want to get out once she was in the tub. When she finally got out she would say, “Oh that felt sooo goood”. I was always there on bath day and she always made the same comment before each bath but I would win.

She liked our arrangement and was very happy to still have her independence, but we where close by if she ever needed us.

She was, also, a smoker. My husband had a long coversation with her to set down some smoking rules. He gave her a special table to smoke at and a very large ashtray. He emphasized not to smoke in bed. She followed those rules and was happy to do so. She enjoyed her cigarettes and we never wanted to take that away from her.

I would take her to the library, grocery shopping and beauty shop every two weeks. I am not going to say it was easy. It was a big job taking care of her.

But I was lucky my parents moved into our town because Mom came up with a terrific idea. She knew I was getting very tired and said she would come and stay with her on a weekend once a month during the summer so we could have a weekend to ourselves and get refreshed and rested. (We had lots of snow in the winter time so we stayed close to home.) We enjoyed camping so that is what we did. We would go to the beach or the mountains. When we came back I was ready to start over again. I was very thankful my Mom was there. She was a great help to me and she was there to support me.

One day my mother-in-law was not feeling well and we had to take her to the hospital. We couldn’t believe how fast she went down because she was in good health. She became bed ridden. I thought they would let us take her home but they said I wouldn’t be able to take care of her anymore. It would take a lot of lifting and I wasn’t equipped to handle her situation. She had to go to a nursing home. We didn’t want her there but we had no choice. After three months she was gone. She gave up. She wanted to come home but knew I could no longer care for her. My husband visited her every day after work and I went a few times during the week and we both went on weekends. We wanted to be sure she was well cared for.

I will always remember how much my late husband appreciated the care I gave his mother. And I will remember how much she loved her castle. And she loved watching her grandson and his friends playing outside.

I would care for my mother-in-law over again knowing how much she appreciated what we did for her.

Our parents should be treated with love, respect and dignity. They brought us into the world and we help them leave it when it is their time.

God Bless our parents.