Happy National Family Caregivers Month!
In recognition of National Family Caregivers Month I have decided to finally launch my #MILadventures Blog. This is something that I have been “encouraged” (Melissa, my business partner, has pretty much been demanding it of me for years now) to do for a few years now. #MILadventures will be about my interactions with my elderly MIL (Mother-In-Law) with whom I (along with my wife and kids) have been living with since 2015 and the various challenges we have come across in this new stage of our lives as caregivers to an elderly person.
The catalyst for this blog was a series of social media posts that I had done about different interactions I have had with my MIL who back when we first moved in was just a woman set in her ways which in and of itself made for some frustrating conversations. But now she has a bit of dementia which creates a whole different level of amusing IMHO interactions.
After a series of Emergency Room visits for my MIL her kids came to the conclusion that she needed to have someone living with her to be near if she needed help and to keep an eye on her. During a family meeting it was decided that we would be the ones who would move in because our situation was a lot more flexible than the others who had children that were a lot younger than ours. They all agreed to be an active part in caring for my MIL and a system was worked out where all of the kids had a week that was “theirs” to “feed Mom”. And so within a couple of weeks we moved in upstairs from my MIL and while the stories didn’t start immediately. I think it took less than a month before my first #MILadventures social media post.
While some people may take some of my posts as me being mean and totally inappropriate (they probably are) here are some perspectives (justifications?) from my point of view:
- Below the craziness and frustrations of dealing with each other, family is family and will always be loved. This is the foundation for why we do what we do. And to be honest it is probably also the cause of the frustration too because it is the reason for why we can’t just walk away.
- A lot of people have experienced or are experiencing almost EXACTLY the same things. It is spooky how something you think is so unique is actually shared by many. Yes, EXACTLY is an exaggeration but they are so close that it is scary.
- Only people who have gone through it can truly understand what it means to take care of an aging relative. And visiting or calling once a month to “check in” doesn’t count as “going through it”. I thought I knew it all because of what my parents went through with taking care of my grandparents. I now know I didn’t know crap about anything having to do with caring for the elderly.
- While my MIL is the main character and catalyst for this blog it is really not about her. This is about me and need for some “stress relief”. If I don’t let it out and laugh (or purge) about it I would probably just cry. I do understand that that a very selfish reason, but I don’t care. Everyone needs to find their own way and I am at peace with what I am doing because see #1 above is where my heart is.
Beyond the “stress relief selfishness”, it is also a “paying it forward” thing (that is my story and I’m sticking to it). As mentioned in #3, since moving in we have come across many people who have experienced what we are now experiencing and they have shared with us a lot of advice on how they dealt with their own challenges. Advice that has proven to be INVALUABLE in our ability to manage our situation and to stay the course and continue to do what we have to do to ensure the best outcome for all.
There have been many who have shared and helped in different ways and we are grateful to you all. But we (Melanie and I) wanted to send a special mahalo to Melissa, DK, Tina, Dania, and Sean for their support, advice, and for sharing your experiences with us. It is very much appreciated and has been an important part of our quest to try and maintain our sanity.
I hope that in sharing what Melanie and I (and our whole family) are going through it can allow others who are experiencing similar things to see that it “could be worse” or “they are not alone” and together we can all keep on keepin’ on.
Let the tales of #MILadventures begin!