DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My mom is truly great. She helped care for both sets of her grandparents when they were sick, and now she has been helping my grandmother take care of my grandfather, who has a bunch of health issues, including dementia.
When she was helping with her grandparents, she was almost 20 years younger. She was also doing it while taking care of us and working parttime. She still works parttime and although it’s now just her and Dad at home, my sister and I are getting worried she is doing too much and wearing herself out, both physically and emotionally. She is the kind of person who pours herself into everything she does, and we see how much she also worries about my grandmother, who has some health problems of her own. We get worried the same will start to happen with my mom, who is nearly 60, and although a young 60, we can see her aging fast if she keeps all this up.
Neither my sister nor I live near enough to pitch in more than once in a while, when we get the chance to visit. We both work fulltime and have our own family commitments to stay on top of.
We have also both talked to Mom about finding ways to take some of the pressure off her. My grandparents don’t have a lot of money, but there are some county and city programs available to help with caring for my grandfather. But they don’t want any strangers in the house, and my mom goes by what they say.
What can we do to help keep our mom from being the next one who needs a lot of care? --- WEARING MOM OUT
DEAR WEARING MOM OUT: Your mother sounds like a good daughter and a good person, the kind who isn’t inclined to not pitch in and help those she loves.
I’m glad you and your sister step up when you’re able, and perhaps another way you could help is to get more detailed information on the services you mentioned are available to your grandparents. There may be programs such as Meals-on-Wheels that can take some of the everyday chores off your grandmother and mother, and which wouldn’t necessarily involve having someone new coming into your grandparents’ home.
One thing we have where I live, and which our family found extremely helpful, is adult daycare. Depending on where you live, there’s a chance there are government or private subsidies in place to help defray the costs associated with a program, and the director of the daycare center should be able to assist with your grandparents accessing any such funding for which they might qualify.
Even if your grandfather is able to spend a few hours a week at a daycare center, it would give both your mom and your grandmother a break, and every caregiver needs and usually benefits from even a little time off.