I’ve felt this way for a while now. If I could just hop off this caregiving ride long enough to catch my breath, life would be easier, better and more manageable. I’m still on the merry-go-round, but I’ve moved from the carousel horse that goes up and down to one that is stationary and finding my balance is harder than I imagined.
I knew moving mom into Assisted Living would be a life altering event for her. I did not expect it to be life-altering for me as well. Certainly, having her fifteen minutes away instead of an hour is much easier physically. What I did not expect was my own feelings of guilt about how often I should see her given that she is now so close to me. After all, we still talk every day, often multiple times a day, but the opportunity to be with her more than every two weeks is ever present.
Add to that she hates the food and I often feel obligated to do something with her for meals, which doesn’t allow her the opportunity to socialize with new people or allow me to get some semblance of my life back. And it’s crazy because my sense of obligation because she dislikes the meals comes from my guilt and not from her asking me to do it. I must keep reminding myself that I am not responsible for my mother’s happiness.
We are both still getting used to her new routine, the protocols and procedures of the Assisted Living community. At least every other day is a phone call, text or meeting to ensure we are on the same page and that mom is doing well. I appreciate so much the professionalism and willingness to work with us that staff and management has shown. It’s not perfect, but nothing ever is.
Even so, I must admit I long for the day when I no longer bring things to her room to hang on the wall and configure her room so that the phone, TV and Alexa work, giving her as much independence as possible. Add to this going back and forth to our family home to clean it out for selling and it feels like nothing has changed. And yet it has, drastically for both of us.
Now that I am not responsible for her physical care, who am I as a caregiver? Many pieces of my old caregiving role remain. I am still her advocate, bill payer, shopper and main social outlet. I’m surprised to find that after seven years, and with the changes we face, I need to bolster my energy to continue as her caregiver. I thought it would be easier after making the change to Assisted Living.
But the biggest surprise is how off balance I feel now that I don’t have to pack up my life every two weeks and every holiday to be with mom. Caregiving changes you and this new role with different responsibilities has me trying to figure out, who am I? Maybe even more importantly, what do I want in my life now and in the future?
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call
Deb is the author of “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract.” Available in both English and Spanish, this book explains how to have an intentional conversation and the how unspoken expectations can cause problems during caregiving. Click here to learn more about Your Caregiver Relationship Contract or here for the Spanish version: Su Contrato de relación como cuidador de un ser querido.