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Nearly 1/3 of Americans serve as family caregivers and millions more serve as paid professional caregivers. The Caregiver Space is sharing their stories.


Portia A.

Who am I? I am 42 years old. I’m a single parent of one adult son. I take care of my elderly Mom full time. I live in Maryland. I am an animal lover and crafter, I suppose.

I care for my elderly Mom and have for the last 6 years. Of all my living siblings, I was chosen for this. It’s not an easy job, to say the least, but I get up every day and take on everything that I need to do to see to my Mom and my family’s care, safety and well being.

Every day is different and I never know what will happen, so all I can do is get up and start the day positive and just take on whatever comes my way. I don’t always have all that’s needed to get this job done but somehow I manage and I’ll never give up. The stress, the physical toll it takes on my body, mind and heart, the frustration, the fun times and the not so fun times are all part of care giving. This job didn’t come with a handbook and I have had no professional training so every day is a learning experience for me and my Mom because for her, becoming elderly didn’t come with a handbook either.

I love my Mom and will do whatever is in my power to make her happy, comfortable and pain free until she takes her last breath. I do little things to maintain my sanity, as every care giver needs, but it seems it’s never enough. I try hard not to complain but on rare occasions like when I’m just too exhausted to smile through it, I vent. My son helps with certain things when I need him so I do get some help. I listen to music as a coping tool to get through just the simple task of cooking a meal or cleaning up or just to redirect my mind and regain some energy. I won’t lie and say I enjoy it but I honestly don’t see anyone else in my family doing it and I commend all those who do this professionally and do enjoy it. I do this because I’m a Chosen One and it is my responsibility and duty to repay my Mom for the task she had of raising me and my four siblings by herself since I was 8 years old. It’s what family is supposed to do and I wouldn’t change a thing even if I could.

I wish I was told how to have more patience and understanding about how the elderly mind works.

The advice I would give other care givers is be patient, put yourself in the shoes of the person you are caring for so you can have a better understanding. Do your research in all aspects of caring for a loved one and for yourself. Most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP!

The hardest part of care giving is …hard to answer. It’s many things that make it hard like the worrying about my Mom and if I’m doing or not doing something right or wrong, it’s the lack of sleep to do the job, the lack of resources and the lack of the help that is needed. Caregiving is not a “one man job” and I’m still not sure how I’m doing it!

I would have to say that the most rewarding part of care giving is knowing that I’m here for my Mom and I don’t have to worry about some of the horrors that people go through having their loved one not being properly cared for or abused while living in a professional facility.

The best tool or strategy I’ve found that helps me is my Faith and my determination to figure things out to care for my Mom in the best way I can.

Caregiving has taught me that I’m stronger then I realize and how important it is to take care of the elderly when they no longer can do it themselves.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much, Veronica. Your words are profoundly touching and I appreciate your comment. You have touched base on many things that are so true. I am doing the very best that I can with very little help and that is ok with me. I’m not a super hero and it does get stressful but I know when to “take 5” for me in any way I can. I have exercised all avenues to get some health aid assistance and the brick walls just keep popping up and again, it’s ok. If it was meant to be, it will be. Until then, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. Thank you again and many blessings to you.

    Reply
  2. Dearest Portia, Your tasks are many and require tremendous dedication. Most importantly is the love you impart. Loving your mom through her difficulty while you stretch yourself to accommodate and bring comfort to her is an act of love. I commend you. Many would walk away. In your case this seems to be true. My sister and her family cared for our beautiful mother for the last six months of her life at my sister’s home. A nursing faciity would never be and I for one am grateful for their dedication and tireless effort. My sister chose this noble position out of love. As a holistic psychotherapist specializing in the area of grief I know all too well the many sacrifices made by those who love. You may have been chosen Portia but you made the choice because of love.

    Caring is full time. However, I would like to ask you to continue to listen to music and find space for you amongst your efforts. Perhaps ask your son to stay with your mother so you may go out for a regular walk or drive or to see a movie, go to church if you do so, visit a friend. Perhaps you do these things already but there may be others you can enlist. Taking care of you is paramount to your ability to care for your mom. I’ll bet there are others who would be willing to give you regular breaks to ensure you are getting what you need as well. If you have hesitated to ask know this may be the time to do so.

    My sister had others to give her some time but I know the crux of all still was with her. She even felt guilty wen I traveled to stay a weekend and she went away with her husband. Emotions can be challenging too. She did it and was better for it.

    I’m sure you have contacted home health aids and if you could do so would have them assist. The association for the aging is another organization which can help with others to do errands and light cleaning and laundry.

    Wishing you much good health and blessings as you continue to lead with your heart and invest in the loving care of your mom. Remember – you are important too.

    Be well.

    Veronica Cole

    Reply
  3. Well said!

    Reply

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