The End of Caregiving

I sat down today and figured out that I was a caregiver of older loved-ones for varying amounts of time and intensity for much of the past 30 years. It started with my dad who died in 1987 at age 83. He had a major stroke about six months earlier and was totally incapacitated - no speech, swallowing, walking - nothing. His mind was still working because he tried to spell out words to express his needs and feelings. “How are you feeling, dad?” I would ask. “D......., E....., A....., D.....,” he responded. It was agonizing to watch. My mom who was 79 at the time was still healthy and able to bear most of the responsibility for watching over him in the nursing home. She didn’t want to drive across town every day so she hired a driver, Bernie, who took her back and forth, and who provided consistent friendship and kindness.