Odyssey In Elder Care: A Caregiver’s Journey

The year is 2007. I am at work at a doctor’s office where I am a medical assistant. My husband Ron, a forklift driver, is called by his mother who tells him that she has fallen down the basement stairs and can’t get back up. She tells him to hurry.  Ron calls me and then 911, and we all arrive at her house at about the same time.

My mother in law’s name is Pearl. At the time of the above incident she was 93 years old. Widowed since 1999, she was still able to live on her own. She took care of her own housework, cooking and laundry. She had never driven a car, so my husband or another family member served as chauffeurs. We all helped with the heavy work. Ron visited her almost daily after work.

The paramedics found her on her bed with a heating pad on her back.  She had managed to crawl upstairs and implement her standard treatment for aches and pains. The EMT’s told her that that action had probably done more damage and increased her healing time, but her answer was that she was hurt and a heating pad helps.

X-rays and MRI revealed three fractures, one in her neck and the others in the mid area of her spine, along with bruising and a strained shoulder. She was in the hospital for a few days and then went to rehab. She stayed with us for a time till she insisted that we return her home.

She did not do well at home after her accident. She would call to have assistance opening boxes of food. She couldn’t operate the coffeepot, She began to lose weight on her diet of crackers and bread. It was time to have help. She moved in with us, where she has remained for most of the last 6 years. We are the full-time caregivers, with occasional breaks from Ron’s sister and his niece.

The decision was made quickly. She relies greatly on her son, he lives closest to her home and she had seen him almost daily since her husband passed away. Our concerns were that she would fail rapidly in a nursing home environment. When she is not happy she will stop eating. We also wanted our grandchildren to know her and remember her as part of their lives.

Almost 7 years later, at the age of 99, here she still resides. This blog is about that time and how we have all changed. I write because at times I feel trapped in these circumstances, and it is a form of escape for me. And at times it is a release for tension or anger.

Anyone who cares for another adult is likely to encounter some of the same experiences. You may find answers here or you may just like seeing that you are not alone in this. In this blog I will share the everyday odyssey in elder care.


About nan5perkins

Been there, done that, got the t shirt, now use it to dust.
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4 Responses to Odyssey In Elder Care: A Caregiver’s Journey

  1. Brandon says:

    God bless you for having the courage to move your mother-in-law in with you and care for her yourselves. Your writing is so clear and heartfelt. I’m sure your story will help so many people. Thank you for sharing it!

  2. Maddog says:

    Girl here inspired as I experience a similiar situation. A perfect example of the the spectrum of mind states and emotions felt as a caregiver with much needed light humor. From frustration, to overwhelming empathy, to the need to have a plan, structure, and projects to ensure caregiving efficiency. You, my dear, and your husband have embodied selflessness and grace to its finest. I look forward to much more!

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