Caring for someone has its rewards and challenges. My name is Diana Flores-Cocciardi and I write from my experiences. I care for my mother Milagros Flores, a proud 92 year old, independent, strong minded, devoted wife who raised five children and six foster children. At one time there were 12 of us living in a house with one bathroom. She ran a loving and well-disciplined household where everyone had their chores. Her domain was the kitchen, she was very proud of her ability to cook meals for the masses. She cooked for the family especially around the holidays and was proud of how people were always complementing her cooking
I admire my mother for the caregiver she was to my father when he became ill. He was on a very restrictive diet because of multiple health issues and she applied herself to learning that diet and planning meals around it. Mom taught me what true caregiving was all about. She took care of him physically, emotionally and lovingly.
One of the many challenges that I find in providing care for mom is helping her to maintain a sense of independence which is now severely hindered by her loss of vision, which happened late in life. In spite of her vision loss she has a strong spirit, still striving to do as much as she can on her own.
I find this is the area that requires the most patience on my part, as a great part of my day is spent helping her achieve her goals on a daily basis. We live in a two-family house, My husband and I live on one level and my mother lives by herself on the other level. As her vision has deteriorated so has her anxiety and fear of being alone. A simple solution would be to have my mother spend a large part of her day with me. However, my mother has her own daily agenda and declines to spend her time in my apartment. This results in having to juggle my time between her household needs and mine. This time restraint also causes me to feel conflicted as I feel my own goals sometimes have to be put on hold. It also becomes difficult when you live your life in a block of time. My ability to get anything accomplish is dictated by the availability of the aide.
We are fortunate that mom still has an aide for four hours during weekdays, but weekends tend to be the most challenging because there is no other support for her or me. This is when I especially feel I’m losing myself in caregiving. The freedom to be spontaneous is lost. If the aide does not show up, then my plans for the day disappear. The pandemic added to that sense of loss because whatever family support system we had in place was no longer available.
After the 8th week of sheltering in place with no added support, my husband saw the toll the stress was taking on me and let me know that I need to communicate to my siblings and express my needs. The results were positive and two of my brothers each took one week shift sheltering in place with mom. This gave me and my husband the respite that we needed in caring for mom. In order not to lose yourself in caregiving I think it is also important to express your feelings and admit you can’t do it all, and not feel guilty. In caring for ourselves we also become better caregivers.
A need is something that is necessary for an organism to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants. In the case of a need, a deficiency causes a clear adverse outcome: a dysfunction or death. Wikipedia