I became my adorable Mom’s caregiver on April 5, 2007, the day my equally adorable Dad died. Having Mom come live with me was not that far a stretch as, for the past 12 years, my folks had visited me in Maryland every summer, all summer. Now, to some, this is a long time to live with one’s elderly senior citizen parents but, for me? Those days were filled with laughter, love, family and friends. We spent a lot of time porch sitting too.
So, the day Dad died and I took the first plane to Mom’s side in Arizona, I assured her that I would have her living with me as long as she was safe and happy. And, I did. I had Mom in my own home for 5 full years before she rested her weary head on February 15, 2012. She was a true delight.
But, at the start of my senior citizen caregiving gig, I had NO clue what I was doing! Having successfully dodged the baby bullet my whole life (I just knew I didn’t want to be a Mom….), I entered caregiving with no idea at all of what it meant to care for an elderly person. With Mom’s patient guidance, I learned fairly quickly how to prepare the right meals, how to entertain her, how to travel with her, and, generally, how to keep her healthy and happy. My caregiving time was both the most challenging and the most rewarding job I’ve ever held.
So, if you’re starting in on caregiving, my advice to you is to pick up every single book you can find and read up on the basics of what is needed to be a caregiver for the elderly. You’ll learn things that I wish I had known – in fact, I wrote my own book that you can find on the Kindle. You’ll need to know about things like raised toilet seats (yes, it sounds strange but they can make or break bathroom visits), how to keep walkers upright, and about call systems and alarms that will notify you if your elderly loved on is trying to make a break for it!
And, my final advice to you senior citizen caregivers out there is to enjoy the days you have your loved ones in your arms. There will be plenty of days to follow where you wish you had.