21st Annual Caregiver Story Contest Runner-up – Betty A.

04/24/24  10:44 AM PST
21st annual caregiver contest win $1000

Congratulations to Runner-up Betty A. from Texas.

As a caregiver of five years, I recall the day I realized I was going to be the only person that could provide care for my elderly mother. My mother, bless her heart is nearing the young age of 94.

For several years after her stroke, she lived with my older sister, her caregiver at the time, in a different city. One day my sister was feeling ill, and she began undergoing medical testing for several months.  Her doctors could not seem to find the cause of her illness.  On Christmas Eve 2019, she called me to inform me that she was struggling to breathe and was going to go to the hospital, and could I bring mother to stay with me for a few weeks until she recuperated.

Of course, I immediately drove 300 miles to pick mother up and brought her home for a visit, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, my sister never recovered, she was hospitalized and diagnosed with sepsis. Upon additional testing we were informed that she had been suffering from Long Cell Lymphoma which had gone undiagnosed. My sister passed away a few weeks later.

We were all so heartbroken, we now had to lay my sister to rest and find a permanent place for mother, as I worked full time and lived in a different city. I felt so helpless.

While living with my sister, my mother had several medical issues that declined her health which caused her to become fearful of nursing facility care. She had initially fallen and suffered a broken shoulder when lifted by the local paramedics. Once healed, she had a fear of walking.

A few years later mother was treated for pneumonia and once again sent for rehab at a nursing facility to heal. She was already fearful of clinical staff because of her previous injury but the doctor recommended it to allow her to recover from pneumonia, and suggested therapy to try and get her to walk again.  She recovered from pneumonia but tragically suffered a broken femur while being transferred into her wheelchair at the nursing facility by their staff.  We immediately transferred her to the hospital for surgery and back she went to another rehab facility for physical therapy.  I was so angry and disappointed at the care these two professional facilities provided and knew that mother would be better cared for by her own family.

She had lost her trust in the healthcare providers and now was just scared. My mother’s scars were deep, not only was she hurting physically but also emotionally and still in shock over the death of my sister, and fearful that she would have nowhere to live and would be permanently placed in a nursing home.

At that moment my heart was broken; I knew that she needed something more; someone that could provide her emotional support, love, care, hugs and comfort.  My siblings warned me how difficult it would be to provide care for her at home and also work. Although it was difficult, I needed her to know that I loved her and I would not abandon her. I would care for her the best I could just as she did for us when we were young. I felt her pain and sadness; our entire family had all been grieving for some time since we had also lost our other sister just two years prior. As a family we had endured so much and I felt she needed her family by her side.

Three years ago, December 2020, mother suffered yet another setback. She was hospitalized for some internal bleeding and placed in intensive care for eight days. The doctors could not locate the cause of her problem. Due to her age, they felt treatment for whatever was causing her illness might cause more damage than her body could handle.

As a family, we discussed this with her and she decided that she wanted to go home and live her last days in comfort amongst her family. She was sent home on hospice and was given about two months to live. I nourished her back to health and I’m happy to say she is still with us today. My mother is a strong lady with such determination, she is someone we all aspire to be like, which is where my compassion is drawn from.  She has taught me that family is very important; that we must have empathy, compassion, and help support others.

It has now been five plus years since my sister passed away and since I brought mother to live with us. To say it has been very challenging, both mentally and physically, is an understatement.  My full-time job is demanding and my husband and I no longer have much of a social life. But I know in my heart that it has been the best thing for my mother’s health to bring her home.

She adores the grandchildren and looks forward to family dinners and birthday celebrations. I feel these gatherings are therapeutic for her and bring her such joy and happiness which warms my heart.

My mother is now bedridden which brings on different challenges. But the greatest lesson I have learned is that providing love, care, and support for someone in need does extend their life. I adore my mom and will continue to care for her until the good lord calls her home. I would not trade the last five years, for I can never get this time back; I would do it all over again. The elderly population are in need of people to care for them, whether it’s a family caregiver or an outside caregiver.  The rewards are small, but the memories are forever.”

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