“I’m Just A Girl” – Becoming A Caregiver


April 11, 2019
Photo Credit: Hedda Pessin

When mom and dad agreed that snow-birding back and forth was getting too difficult, I moved to Florida to help my parents age with grace as full time residents of Florida. I moved to provide support, but of course I didn’t mind moving to warmer weather, far away from the Northeast’s snowy winters. I am proud to be the family representative living near my parents so my siblings can remain in New York with their families and careers. I came to Florida open to whatever would come. 

I didn’t arrive in Florida with a degree in nursing. I’m not a lawyer or financial planner. I’ve never worked in assisted living. To paraphrase Julia Roberts speaking to Hugh Grant in the movie Notting Hill,  “I am just a girl…standing in front of my parents, offering to help them get through all the highs and lows of aging.” I’m just like all the other people I’ve been meeting who are going through the same thing with their own parents.  It has taken a lot of research, patience, and advocacy detective work to figure out what exactly I needed to do to accomplish my mission of helping my parents.  

I have been journaling since I was thirteen years old, so when I searched and found that the information I needed to steer my parents’ aging years was scattered, I collected it and wrote it all down. I took a Home Health Aide certification course and wrote down everything I learned. I went to caregiver groups and wrote down all the stories I heard and all the cautions of what NOT to do. But it takes time to source all this, and most people I meet are smack-dab in the middle of their own lives and already too busy to add research to the to-do list. 

When I talk with people beginning their own parent-caring journey and I share some tips and tell them what I’ve done so far, they ask me, “How the he** did you know to do all that?”, “Where did you find that information?”, “Why can’t someone just give me a list of everything I need to do?” And then they say, “You should write a book!” 

It is my hope to provide for you, the reader, all the “Things You Didn’t Know You Need To Know” stuff. I’ve compiled everything into a guidebook. I am honored to share my experiences with you in this blog, to help you manage the different stages of your parents’ aging challenges; understand when to focus on what; and offer guiding questions to help you figure out what to look for in your own situation. 

Feeling recognized and appreciated may not be voiced by your family and those around your parents but please know that you are, and my friends and I are here to listen and help! 

I have found caregiver support groups a huge help. If you can’t get to one, I’m pulling together my caregiving friends so that they can be your long distance caregiving support mentors. Just reach out. We’re here for you! 

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