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My mother-in-law is going home. Not the euphemism, but actually back home to her condominium. A year ago my mother-in-law was having health issues. Her breathing was difficult, her lungs were not working properly due to an issue with her heart.

At 91 years of age Pauline is our treasure; we wanted to keep her safe and not worry about her. So my husband’s sister got her into an assisted living residence close to her house. Pauline went to see a specialist and eventually had surgery.. and slowly but surely she has been recovering and getting stronger every day. (more…)

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I hate being a caregiver. I have been one for five years. Life was not supposed to be like this. I awaken every morning with the same feeling in the pit of my stomach. Daily chores again! When do I get time off? He can do some things for himself but life has chained me to this man I married  65 years ago. His life is now what it is. He cannot hear so I am his ears. He cannot see so I am his eyes. I  am his constant companion. I do take off for a 45 minute walk every morning, and I do things without him for a few hours one day a week. But I hate being a caretaker. I want someone to care for me as I take care of him.

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It’s been almost 5 years now since my mother died. She was 89 and living independently up until a month before she died. I often resented going to see her but did especially once she no longer drove. I gladly went shopping for her, but taking her places was always difficult as she was a controlling type of person. Still, I respected her and admire her to this day for how she managed her life as she became more and more dependent on others.

Eventually, I went to a caregivers support group. I hesitated because I knew I was not really a “caregiver” until I read the brochure. I saw that much of what I was doing for and with my mom was in fact caregiving and I deserved support as much as anyone.

I’ve never regretted doing that support group and I think my relationship with my mom was improved as a result. I miss her still, of course, and as I begin my own aging I think of her decisions and will be using her as a model of workable indepedence in what ever form it takes. The last day before she died, she was still making her own decisions about hospice and other things, she insisted on drinking water by herself with no assistance. She liked doing things on her own and I believe I am very much like her.

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My biggest challenge is how do I care for my 85-year old mother and my 101 year old mother-in-law who are both 1200 miles away. The answer is very old fashioned – the telephone and the mail. My mother-in-law is very deaf; however, she can read without glasses and her long term memory is very good. I write to her every week letting her know how we are and reminding her of our next visit. When we are together, I communicate with her by writing on a pad of paper. She is very engaged and can answer my questions.

My mother is always so happy when I call her. She wants to know what I did that day,and I am always upbeat, also discussing memories of both her childhood and mine. We both look forward to the calls. She still does handwork and crochets beautiful pieces some of which I am using on my vintage pillows.

We are so blessed to still have these two wonderful ladies!!

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