Monday, October 5, 2009

Helping families keep helping

She’s been sleeping on the couch for over a year now. Her mother is in her bedroom, and her brother, who helps care for her mom, is in her guest room.

I asked her how she does it, and she says simply, “This is my mama. She wants to be with us, and we want to be with her.”

At the same time, she works full time and sleeps poorly these days.

I worry a lot about her.

I worry that one day the lack of sleep will combine with an especially tough work day, and then her mom will be just a little more difficult that evening.

I worry that my friend will snap – like I might do, in the same situation. Like more than half a million caregivers each year snap and do something they’d never dream of doing.

They become abusers of an elderly person. And despite what we read and hear about on the news, more often than not, it’s a family member who is the abuser, not a paid caregiver.

You can see how it could happen. Deprive someone of sleep, demand tasks of her that she was never trained to do, and anyone of us could reach a breaking point.

But what if we provide her with easy-to-access help in caregiving, and with some support in tasks at home?

“Just a little help would make a world of difference,” my friend says, as I tell her about training available to her online. “I want to do what my mama would want, as long as I possibly can.”

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