November 4, 2010

A Labor of Love

maryBy Mary Schricker, SRES
Ruhl&Ruhl Real Estate

“During the past few years as a Seniors Specialist I have had the opportunity to act as a sounding board for clients who have been thrust into the role of caregiving for a family member or friend. I have listened, mediated and cautiously advised them. I have helped them liquidate assets, market and sell the family home, and often find appropriate placement for their parents and grandparents. It has been my professional persona; my contribution to preserving the dignity of our seniors. But never once did I really understand the magnitude of the emotional impact that the decisions had on those family members, not until the roles were reversed and I was the advisee rather than the advisor. With little warning, my mother had a stroke. Overnight I became a statistic…. one of the 44.4 million Americans acting as a caregiver. It was only then that I began to understand the pain and anguish that my clients had been experiencing. And as with any personal situation, the emotions clouded the facts. I too was faced with problems like:

1. What placement best suits my mom’s physical and mental condition?
2. What can she afford?
3. What do I do with her condo—and a lifetime of possessions?
4. How do I find time to run the errands, take her to the doctor, and visit her in the hospital while still working full time?
5. How do I deal with the guilt of not doing enough?
6. How do I deal with her anger?
7. How do I deal with my anger at her for being so sick?
8. And, lastly, but most importantly how do I stay mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy through this stressful time?

In the days since my mom had her stroke, I have worked through these issues, and found a reasonable solution to most of them. It has not been without sleepless nights, much needed vacation time, the support of friends and family, some soul searching and the realization that I cannot do it all alone.

I have emerged from this journey a more qualified professional, a stronger person foddered by heightened spirituality, and the realization that each healthy day we are given is truly the greatest of all gifts. I also hope that the adversity I have faced has made be a better mother, a more understanding sister, a loyal friend, and most importantly a more loving and patient daughter.”

You have just read the preface from my latest book A Labor of Love; My Personal Journey Through the World of Caregiving. In the book, I talk candidly of my perceptions, insights, and feelings about my mother’s illness and its effects on our relationship. Some sensitive topics addressed are family discord, facility placement, anger and grief, guilt, and spirituality and aging. In addition to my own experiences the book is the result of conversations with other professionals in the senior community, healthcare workers, co-workers, family, friends, and most importantly other caregivers who were also cast in the role of life or death decisions. Although there is much valuable information available on caregiving, my challenge was to keep the book brief enough so that it could be read in one or two sittings. It also hoped that by sharing my story, other caregivers might feel a bit less alone in their own personal journey.

“There are only four kinds of people in the world…
Those who have been caregivers,
Those are currently caregivers,
Those who will be caregivers
Those who will need caregivers.”
……Rosalyn Carter

A Labor of Love is due to be released mid November of this year and will be available at several Quad City locations.