Many of us baby boomers have been, are or will shortly be in the position of caregiving for our parents. Helping out Mom and/or Dad can mean running a few errands, driving them to doctor appointments or grocery shopping. In some instances, our parents’ needs may include more extensive assistance such as home repairs, banking, financial troubleshooting and dispensing of medications.
Although my nearly 98-year-old mom has always been a very independent gal, she has adapted beautifully to letting us help her out with various situations. Together, we often dine, grocery-shop and make runs to “The Walgreens.” If she has an errand to run or an appointment to keep, my hubby Steve may be the one to accompany her. He is crazy about “Mom” and she loves her “boy.” I feel blessed that they care so much about one another, and because of their bond, I never feel guilty about not being able to always be the one to meet her needs.
Another important show of support is going with Mom to see her doctors and dentists. Not only do we do the driving, Steve or I actually go in the exam room with her. We are not trying to control her or to take away her privacy. In fact, she’s the one who has insisted that one of us be with her during every step of her medical appointments. I am so lucky that she is so trusting and that my hubby Steve is such a good sport, even if he does have to avert his eyes as much as possible when Mom is gowned up in the doctor’s exam room.
Mom is still sharp as a tack; however, she says that she wants Steve or me in with her to make sure her physician’s instructions are heard and understood, and she wants us to feel free to ask her doctors questions that we believe need to be addressed.
Her generation tends to have unwavering belief that the doctor is always right. I know that many years ago Mom had gotten angry with me when I got mad and raised my voice to her doctor. I very loudly questioned his methods and decisions when it came to her urgent medical needs. He diagnosed her with stage-four ovarian cancer and then quickly announced that she should call hospice as he was sure she would not survive any chemo treatment and that her life expectancy was six months.
I was furious. Who the hell was he to tell us that she should just sit back and accept her death sentence? Moving forward, I was able to find her a fabulous doctor located just blocks from my office who used his customized methods to save her life. That was nearly 10 years ago. Nevertheless, I am grateful that she and my dad raised me to be such a fearless woman who stands up for her loved ones’ rights no matter who I have to challenge.
So often Mom thanks us so profusely for looking out for her that we feel she may be feeling she is putting us out. When that happens, I remind her of all the diapers she changed for me, baths given, laundry done, meals prepared and the untold number of times she advocated for me when I needed serious medical attention, and sometimes intervention on her part.
My mom is a lovely woman who deserves any and all the help I can give her. When she acts as though she is feeling guilty that I do so, I can usually ease her mind when I tell her, “Now it’s my turn.”