My mother-in-law’s health declined rapidly in the nursing home until she reached 90 pounds and became barely responsive. We brought her home to die among loved ones.
But she responded to one-on-one care, gained weight, and became clear-headed when we took her off narcotics. She has been with us for almost five years now. She is what the therapists call a “total assist”: she can’t walk, feed herself, go to the bathroom on her own, or turn herself in bed. She sleeps 20 or more hours a day and rarely speaks.
We’ve experienced a range of emotions during caregiving. We’re truly happy that she responded well, that she is in a place she prefers, and that we can be with her more. We love her and want the best for her. We’re glad to pay back a fraction of the care she has displayed for others.
But we wrestle with negative emotions as well. Sadness from her decline, the loss of the person we knew, the knowledge that she’s going to get worse, planning funeral arrangements. Frustration when she doesn’t want to eat a carefully prepared meal, when the aide can’t come, or when family members don’t keep in touch. Weariness over the everyday duties and weight of responsibility. Pressure from the needs of family, work, finances, and other obligations.
But the one I’ve wrestled with the most is resentment and its accompanying guilt.
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