DEAR HARRIETTE: My grandmother has been sick for about a year. She’s slowly losing control of her body and mind. She’s not capable of living alone as she can’t walk much and shows early signs of dementia. She has a live-in caretaker. My mom often goes over there to spend time with her and provide social connection. However, every time my mom comes home, she’s in a bad mood -- and understandably so. It’s just that she becomes so sad that it worries me. I don’t know what to do. How do I let her know I’m here for her and suggest she talk to a professional? -- Approaching Loss
DEAR APPROACHING LOSS: Caregivers are often the family members who are the least cared for and the most at risk because they are so laser-focused on helping the person in immediate need that they neglect themselves. As a caregiver, she may have trouble finding enough time to tend to herself or may be too saddened to think about anything positive. It’s great that you are noticing your mother’s needs so that you can help -- even if only in small ways.
When your mother gets home, make it your intention to tend to her. Offer to give her a shoulder rub for a few minutes. Talk to her about a creative idea that you would like her advice about. Create a time in the day that she can look forward to with you that will be uplifting and nurturing for her.
Ask her what activities and hobbies she has enjoyed in the past. Encourage her to think of something she may want to do for herself, like reading, knitting or crocheting, art, or a dance class. Meditation is an excellent way to shift your mood and engage your center. And yes, if she seems depressed, suggest that she see a therapist. For more ideas, AARP has a wealth of resources: bit.ly/2WM83bd. You can also find ideas from caregiver.com: bit.ly/3mT0n1E.