A Guide to Caring for Aging Family Members

Respite

On the Caring.com website ( http://www.caring.com/support-groups), Neetsy said:

“My Mother in law has lived with us for 8+ years and is 88, she has 7 other children but they don’t want her to live with them. We also have a 14 year old granddaughter who is living with us. My question is this, My Husband and I have tickets and already planned a vacation to another state. The plans fell through for my Mother in law to stay with another of her children (they don’t want her on a Holiday) so now she doesn’t want to go. Would it be ok, for us to leave the two of them home alone with the 3 family dogs to care for 4 whole days? In case of an emergency, I have a father that doesn’t live far and can be called along with other relatives of mine.”

I commented in reply:
“Neetsy, of course we do not have all the details, but allow me to share how we dealt with this in our family. My caregiving situation was similar to yours in that we were caregivers for my mother-in-law for 7 years, 4 of them in our home with me as primary caregiver. We had major crises to deal with over the Christmas holiday 3 different years. My sisters-in-law were spending their holidays skiing out West. The last Christmas my mother-in-law was alive, my husband called his sister about taking Mom for the holiday. He was prepared for her response: “I cannot take her. We will have my grandson and 3 dogs in the house.” My husband replied, “We will have 7 grandchildren and 1 dog at ours. This is not negotiable.” Neesy, people can only take advantage of you if you let them.

As far as your granddaughter is concerned, I think it’s great that she is involved with caregiving. The experience will be important to the development of her character. My concern would be, however, that life is fragile and unpredictable. That’s a lot of responsibility for a 14-year-old. If a crisis were to occur, and the outcome was bad, how would that impact your granddaughter?

I wrote a book about my caregiving experience and those of 34 other caregivers. I am hoping “What to Do about Mama?” by Barbara G. Matthews and Barbara Trainin Blank will be helpful to other caregivers like you.”

Barbara Matthews

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