Caregiving is an art. It needs at its core, 3 support pillars which are love, trust, and patience to make the relationship work and the bond to stay nurtured. The task of caregiving for parents or in laws seems to be the norm in South Asian families. When you are in your homeland, help and support is available in plenty, but trying to take care of them in America is a very daunting task as you don’t have that kind of affordable help to be able to fulfil the duty towards your parents.. After my sister’s marriage, I was at crossroads to decide whether I would keep my parents here with me in the US or ask them to go back and stay in Chennai, India. My parents are both retired doctors and have spent most of their life in Chennai. So, the ideal solution would be to ask them to go back, but …. wait it cannot be easy as it seems right? As my parents aged they also brought upon themselves several unwanted visitors…. diabetes, hypertension and so on. While they had some family in Chennai, we would have to rely heavily on housemaids, cook and drivers to ensure their well being. Without an able person to manage these folks who were going to provide a service, it was going to be difficult as household help is not very reliable, and one has to stay on top of affairs by constantly replacing people to continue with providing care for them. As we were not going to be in Chennai to do this, the obvious choice was clear to me.
After a lot of pondering and deliberating with my husband we decided to keep them with us. Recently, my mother-in-law also decided to stay with us. She has a total of 3 children, her 2 sons are in the US and her daughter is in India. So sometimes I have 3 seniors to care for. I am fortunate to be able to hire some help who works a couple of hours in providing care for my mother. But after those hours or on the weekends, I am on my own and must provide care as needed. In a day I put on several hats. Some of my tasks with regard to medication is to ensure that they are in actuality taking all their pills from the medicine box, so I double check to make sure the pill box slot for today is empty. In addition, if I find that their medications need a refill, I call their doctors’ office and cross check with the pharmacy to ensure they received the doctors’ script for the medication. Once that is done I drive to the pharmacy to pick up the pills. While both my parents and in-laws are from the south and my native language is Telugu, my parents are from Chennai, so watching Tamil TV is second nature in comparison with Telugu TV. I now have to ensure that I have designated spaces in my home and TVs or iPads so that they can both watch what they want without feeling bored. I also must put on my “health advocate” hat to ensure that my mom does her half hour of exercise every day, by reminding or cajoling her or sometimes even reprimanding her. I feel bad, but rest in peace because I know that she knows I am being this way only for her own good.
We recently got ourselves a bundle of joy, with his big brown eyes, and soft fur, ‘Oliver’ is our cutie house dog. He brings so much joy into our lives. He is a ‘Morkie’, that breed of dogs demands attention all the time. Unfortunately, I cannot give him so much time nor attention. The gaps in attention are fulfilled by my kids or my mom, who loves to cuddle with Ollie on their laps. My mother in law however is not into cuddling with the dog on her lap. She is Ok with Ollie by her side. Ollie of course does not understand this and tries to climb onto the sofa or latches onto her and starts scratching her. I will need to drop whatever I am doing in that instant and run to my mother-in law’s help and move Oliver away from her and either distract him or put him back into his crate……I can share the rest of my story at a later time. To conclude this blog post, there is never a dull moment. Sometimes it is hard, you feel alone and burnt out, but it is very rewarding to me that I am fulfilling my duty towards my parents and in laws.
Being a member of Posana feels rewarding because I am being made aware that what I am going through is normal and it’s OK to feel that way. Posana provides an avenue to bounce off ideas with people in your situation to share or ‘lighten the load’ and learn from each other. You can take that advice back and implement it efficiently to improve the care you provide at home.