Lisa is a 46 year old woman who formerly worked as a secretary. She moved from Florida back to South Carolina as her parents started aging, eventually moving in with them. She had the opportunity to take an online medical transcription course and worked briefly. She has a supportive brother who lives in Orlando and helps as he is able to.
Besides “caregiver,” what other identities do you have?
I am an avid antique doll collector, I cross-stitch, read and enjoy baking. I also have a very sweet cat who is 15 years old.
Who had the biggest impact on shaping who you are today?
My mother, aunt and a good friend. They were and are positive influences and are very understanding.
What’s a personality trait you have that you really value?
Compassion is an admirable trait in one’s self and in others, as some people are not so understanding in some situations.
What’s your mantra?
Not sure, maybe be grateful for the friends and family that actually care and things in your life that make it worthwhile.
Who are you caring for? What is your caregiving story?
When our caregiving journey first began, it was pleasant and pretty cool; I started commuting from my apartment, visiting both of my folks, helping with bringing dinner, doing laundry, etc. One day at work, I got a phone call saying my mom needed emergency surgery and eventually I ended up having to leave work permanently [to care for her]. Her health condition declined from then on for several years and I ended up moving back in with them to help more. She and Dad did ok for a while, but he had also had heart attack, etc. So, it took both of us as she eventually ended up in a wheelchair and bedridden. We could not have done it without home health, their doctors and staff. Even nursing facilities and hospitals were helpful for advice on taking care of both of them.
It was also encouraging taking a medical transcription course. I think the hardest thing was when we had to get hospice for Mom and things kind of went downhill from there. I just thought she was going to be around for a little longer. As good to her as they were, it was uncomfortable but better for her to be home. I’m grateful to still have my dad although he is aging, a little Alzheimer’s and has a walker now. For 88 years old, it’s not bad. I have a brother who is a long distance caregiver, but at least he provides some moral support. Although it is a little stressful, I am hoping others can hang in there. There are now a lot more online resources available for those in rural areas and sometimes we can even find friends or neighbors that have the same in common.
What was your greatest caregiving lesson?
Learning to not be so selfish as our loved ones are not around forever.
What do you wish you were told before you became a caregiver?
It is a commitment that you need to make sure you are prepared to stick with for however long it takes.
What advice would you give to other caregivers?
It is emotional and there are situations that you will not prepared to deal with, but have to hang in there.
What’s your best piece of advice for life in general?
Try to make the best of it, especially if you still have your health, family and a few friends.
What’s been the hardest part of caregiving for you?
It’s kind of stressful and not easy seeing parents age, kind of losing touch with and not seeing friends.
What’s the most rewarding part of caregiving?
Being able to do something that actually matters and helps other people.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Take a few minutes to wake up and adjust my mood for the day.
What’s the last thing you do at night?
Unwind by taking some time to relax.
What keeps you up at night?
Stress over health concerns among other things.
What motivates you?
Nice, friendly people that actually care, as you can learn from them.
What’s the best tool or strategy you’ve found to help you with caregiving?
Respect their feelings.
In ten words or less, what has caregiving taught you?
Patience, responsibility and how to deal with difficult situations with respect for the feelings of the ones you are caring for.
What’s your best habit?
Do the best you can do.
What do you do when you have 15 minutes of free time?
Read, cross-stitch, keep in touch with friends or family or watch TV.
What do you think makes a life well lived?
Try to make the best out of whatever situation life hands you.
What question do you hope an interviewer would ask?
If you had something you would change in your caregiving experience what would it be?
Maybe not having the physical challenges that developed in the process of this journey as it effects the quality of care you are able to give.