Special note to adult caregivers of elderly parents – especially today, elderly Mothers

My husband and I took care of my Mother for the last years of her life.  She lived until she was 90 (died on my birthday….we buried her on her birthday a few days later…ugh. Now you know why I hate my birthday.)

My Mother – like no doubt other elderly parents – was tough to take care of her.  She was often sick and we would have to race to the hospital with her…and sit next to her bed as the doctors and nurses cared for her.  We never knew if she would get better…or not…..it was very tough and went on for years.

When she was not sick with a life threatening crisis, it was also tough.  I remember at CNN I would get up, get her up and dressed…breakfast…race off to CNN for my mid day show Burden of Proof…race home at 1pm…take her out, read to her (she was blind in her last years with macular degeneration), make sure she had something to do in the afternoon….then race back to CNN for my 8pm show….race home…get her in bed etc. Sorting out her medicine was a challenge – she seemed to take a different pill for every part of her body. At home, there were many nights I would be up with her. I had one of those child monitors in her bedroom at home so that if she coughed, or had a problem I could jump out of bed and care for her. There was lots of that.

 I was lucky in that my husband helped. He was a great sport about it (he also loved her.) I was really fortunate we could afford some nursing care help when no one else could be home (most Americans are not that lucky) – but it was never easy. Plus, I wanted to take care of her myself rather than a nurse.  My siblings also helped a great deal but she lived with us. It was emotionally exhausting – I hated to see her unhappy and sick.  It was physically challenging since I spent so many sleepless nights taking care of her.

Adding to all of it was her death! I was on a plane to cover the execution of Timothy McVeigh and when I landed in Indiana, I had a message to call home immediately and I did. I then turned around and got back on the US Air plane and flew home.

I am sure many of you have taken care of elderly parents. It is so difficult for so many reasons. And compounding it is that many of you also have young children so you are sandwiched between the two generations — who do you care for at the moment? the child ? or the parent ? Plus..elderly parents who are sick can be unhappy and there seems never to be a break.

But, as tough as it all was…and for so many years..right now, today, and every day, I WOULD GIVE MY LEFT AND RIGHT ARMS just to have 5 more minutes with my Mother. I loved her so much. I miss her.

PS I know, as tough as it was for me physically and emotionally, it is much tougher for others who don’t have the family or finances I have. I don’t know how they do it.