Abuela had a stroke on a December day, way back when. I’ll never forget the call. The drive to the hospital. Seeing her in the emergency room. The comatose state she was in for weeks. But she lived.
And that meant that we would care for her. At home. No matter what. I remember even now thinking about how the neurosurgeon gave us the side eye and people continually asked if we were putting her in an assisted living facility.
Now let me say that there’s nothing wrong with a facility. Not everyone is able to take care of someone in his or her home. But for us, that was never an option. So we gritted our teeth as we explained (over and over again) and tried to remember that they were looking out for abuela’s best interest too. I always laugh when I think of the follow up appointment where the doctor admitted that he did not think she would recover the way that she did and attributed it to the care she was receiving.
This week I had the chance to read an eye-opening white paper put out by Comfort Plus: The State of the Hispanic Caregiver. I know that my family and I most certainly belong to the ranks of the caregivers. Did you know that the percent of Hispanic older persons living with other relatives is almost twice that of the total older population?
For us, caregiving brought with it a great deal of joy in each and every one of abuela’s little accomplishments. Also knowing that she was comfortable and at ease in familiar surroundings was major. But it was not without its challenges. Schedules, pills, doctor’s appointments. All had to be kept in order especially with more than one person helping out. The white paper reports that caregiving Hispanics report the most stress factors from caregiving. I think a few things cause this. Certainly the expectation that has been set from generations of caregiving has to weigh on us. I know that abuela took care of her mother and her mother-in-law. For years and years and years (like, well over 10!). She provided it day in and day out and I know they were grateful for that. I never heard her complain or say that the time was wasted or a burden. She always spoke of that time fondly and now, I know why.
I also think the business of caregiving is overwhelming at times. And I know that back then, I wasn’t finding a lot of help online. I hope that I was an asset to my family during that time. Not for the first time, I thought about all of the people that had no one to advocate for them. No one to provide much-needed information that could help lighten the burden of care. Even as savvy as I am, I had a hard time finding information on elderly care, where to go for help with the different challenges we were having, etc.
When I read about Comfort Plus Online, I thought it sounded like a great resource and I found out that it was. I wish it had been around all of those years ago. With more of us turning to the Internet for our information, and so many non-profit and government agencies unable to provide help with where to turn, it’s good to know that there’s a website out there to provide some of this. I love that Comfort Plus provides information on their site in both languages and that they not only have products but they provide a caregiving section.
I found that it was the little things that were immensely helpful in relieving some of that caregiving stress. Something as simple as having items delivered to the home would bring relief because it meant that a schedule wouldn’t have to be set for someone to run out while someone else watched abuela. Things that small made a big difference.
We had such a great time with Abuela, even with the dementia that was brought forth due to the stroke after a while. She remained with us for 6 years before God called her home. Always with a smile on her face and until she became non-verbal, with a funny word or two. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. I know mami, being the primary caretaker, wouldn’t have traded it either.
It’s good to know that there’s a resource out there for others who may be going through a similar situation. I will do anything in my power to spread the word if it means bringing a little comfort and ease to the tough job of caregiving.
If you are a caregiver or know of one, please pass on this information. Comfort Plus also has a Facebook fan page. Well, they have two: one in English and one in Spanish as well as a Twitter account. Be sure to head over and give them a like and follow.
For those that are looking to make a purchase on the Comfort Plus site, I have great news! You can use discount count LMB2012 for $10 off any case of Tranquility products.
And if you are lucky enough to be able to provide someone with love and care during their time of need don’t forget to take a little time to care for yourself. We like to forget that little task sometimes (especially us moms).
Have you cared for someone at home? What challenges did you deal with and what rewards meant the most to you?