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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN / Family First / Editorial List

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Family First

(Page 1 of 2)



I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

"Both Sides, Now" as written by Joni Mitchell
Lyrics © Joni Mitchell/Crazy Crow Music/Siquomb Music, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

As we stand in the midst of the 2012 holiday season, please allow me to cautiously interject myself into the discussions between primary and long-distance caregivers.

Throughout this holiday season, we have been running an educational series called the Caregiver Board of Directors’ Meetings.  This, of course, refers to us being able to take advantage of the time we will be with our fellow adult family members throughout the holidays to conduct meaningful meetings about important topics pertaining to our loved one’s care. 

It only makes sense that if you are the CEO of Caring for My Loved One, Inc., your family members who are not involved with the day-to-day details of caring for your shared loved one are, in effect, your Board of Directors (for better or for worse).

But first, let’s go into the Wayback Machine for a moment…The year was 1994 and I was living in Atlanta. My mom had been a primary caregiver—first for Dad and then, after he passed away, for my grandparents as they began to need care.  During those years, I would return home at least once every six weeks to help in whatever way I could. But, one late August night, I heard something in her voice during a phone call which made me realize more was needed of me—and fast.

I had planned to spend about two weeks in Miami, where my mom and the rest of my family lived.  I thought I would be able to help Mom and then return to Atlanta.  Within hours of arriving in Miami, I found myself racing around town helping Mom do all she needed to do as family caregiver. We were in and out of doctors' offices; there were endless hours on the phone with insurance companies, midnight dashes to the hospital, life and death decisions for both grandparents, heartaches and stress. At the end of my time in Miami, I sat at dinner with Mom, breathlessly recounting the previous two weeks and told her that I was grateful to be able to come home during this intense time of overwhelming challenges.

Mom looked at me, not understanding what I was trying to say.  Because, for her, this was simply a regular two-week period in her life as a family caregiver. 

For long-distance caregivers: No matter how much you care, sometimes it is impossible to know what the primary caregivers go through until you spend a few weeks in their shoes.

For the primary caregiver: (See above sentence.)


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