Once it's all over.
Well, it finally ended on 6 March. My mother passed away peacefully. Toward the end it came rather quickly. Hospice was there. They were fantastic the last few weeks. The past 10 years of caregiving took their toll on me, however. 4 days after my mother died, I had an eye incident, rendering me blind for the rest of my life in one eye. I'm convinced it was stress-related due to the years and years of caregiving, agitation, grief, arguing, guilt, concern. I cannot stress to every caregiver how important it is to take care of yourself. I've re-read several posts here just now, and they all have similar threads: people taking care of the elderly, and of course the elderly won't budge in their ways. It's true, you can't change them, so don't try, or else you will turn out like me: half-blind, wondering what's next regarding my own diminished health after all those years trying to let someone else have a life. I didn't have one for 10 years caring for my mother. She came first. I put her there, and she refused to budge. Yes, she wiped my behind for years when I was a baby, etc. but that was when she was 20. I'm 70, an only child. It's different. Being young and a caregiver is quite different from being a senior and having to be a caregiver as well. YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. If you need to, seek out a support group, a physical one, not just blogging on a website. It helps. The first time in a group I vented about how I wanted my mother dead was the beginning of my letting go and realizing that all of my struggles over the past 10 years were going me harm, not her. She hadn't changed, and she was closer and closer to dieing anyway. My letting go was unfortunately a little bit too late. Seek help wherever you can. Much of what you will need to do will come 100% from you anyway, however, and no one else will help ultimately with the nitty-gritty aspects of the situation. However, there ARE some real gems out there in the health care industry. There are some monsters too, too, but you will learn to pick them out. Listen to your own instincts. You DO know what to do. If you've been caring for an elderly parent for some time, you are succeeding, so you KNOW what to do. Listen to that inner voice. And above all, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF *FIRST*. You are the only one you have. I wish I had faced that truth sooner. I will be hanging around the site for a little while longer, but then I will unjoin, since both of my parents are gone now. Remember that if you are there, you are doing ALL that you can, and that's all that you can do. Don't let it stress you out, because it will take its toll on you. This is easier said than done, as you know. But, as with me, there came that one point where I finally let go, but as I said, for me it was a bit late. Don't let that be you.