Take a few minutes to read Long Goodbye of the Elderly Can Create Crisis for Family Caregivers in the April 6, 2010 Washington Post Health section. Abigail Trafford describes what we experienced during three years of aging parent caregiving. She writes, “The long goodbye is a predictable chapter in our lives. Giving care — and receiving care — is what to expect when you’re expecting a long life.”
We miss my husband’s mother, who died in January a few months shy of 91, ending three years of increasingly complex caregiving, but since then our life has become more relaxed. During the last six months of mother’s life we were always tired. Often we commented that we felt like we were saying good-bye to her that whole time. When the phone rang regularly at odd hours our minds instinctively ran through the possibilities, wondering if the end might be near. On a regular day, in addition to our jobs, there were always doctor’s visits, medicines, therapies, activities, assistive devices, time with Mother, and so much more.
Yet the two of us also figured out how to share the burden, being especially alert to help each other when frustration was overwhelming. We kept exercising as much as possible and went out to eat a lot more than unusual. Oh, and we paid someone else to iron the beautiful long-sleeve cotton blouses that Mother loved and wore daily until the day she died.