I’m the youngest of five with a span of twenty years between oldest and youngest. Never has that age difference been felt more than this past week.
I want to give you some background, my oldest sister is 74 and lives an hour away. The next sister is 68 and has COPD. My brother is 57 and another brother died two years ago when he was 57. Our mother is 96 years old. My brother takes care of the house, fixing things inside and out. He is also the liaison between my mother and the sister with COPD, who takes care of the bills. I help my mother physically including shopping, helping her in and out of the tub (she washes herself just fine, it’s the getting into and out of the tub part that is difficult) and other things around the house. Between us, we’ve managed to take care of everything with my mother. If you’re wondering, yes, my mother lives alone in the house that our father built for her when they married.
But in the span of just one week, I truly realized that this age difference with my siblings puts me in the path of taking care of most of it. What used to be five taking care of everything has slowly dwindled down to two. This past week, I spent 6 hours in the emergency room with my mother. My oldest sister is unable to move much because of debilitating hip pain and my other sister ended up in the hospital with pneumonia, which can be life threatening to anyone, but more so to someone with COPD. I’ve just been moving from the hospital to my mother’ house, to my home, to work and then back again. Somewhere in there, I’m pretty sure that I sleep.
I know that self care is so important when taking care of others, but some weeks, the self-care gets put on hold. I had a massage scheduled last Sunday, but had to cancel it to take my mother to the emergency room. Now, I’m afraid to schedule another one at this point, because I don’t want to put out the therapist by having to cancel last minute again. I will admit, it does help to have a wonderful husband supporting me. He sat with me in the hospital last week and at other times, when I’m at work, he checks in on my mother. I honestly don’t know what I would do without him.
Does anyone else find themselves in this type of situation where the aging of your parent has emphasized a large age gap between your siblings? My sister is old enough to be my mother and in fact has a daughter who is older than me. For most people my age, their parents are in their 70’s, perhaps early 80’s. I am not complaining. I know how lucky I am to still have my mother with me and with her mind still in tact, I would just like some ideas on how other people are making it work. Who out there finds themselves in a similar situation to mine? I would love to hear what’s going on with you and any suggestions that you may have.