Hardware storing

Daniel was born with cerebral palsy, so from the moment he gasped his first breath, he had a full-time caregiver––his mom. He never ceased feeling grateful to this person who gave him so much love and attention, yet also expected him to move about the planet as easily and unremarkably as any other child. Hence, […]

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Things never to say to caregivers, part 2

A postscript to the last column: I have nothing against other people’s offering their wisdom and insights; I only think their motives may be misplaced. They think they are helping. More often, they just want someone else to think they are helping. Unsolicited advice is always risky. Perhaps you once warned your sister about her […]

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Things never to say to caregivers, part 1

People try to offer kind, helpful words––but too often, they sound like they haven’t a clue, and therefore just wind up being annoying. Examples: “It’s a bit like caring for a baby, isn’t it?” Um, no. You’ll find yourself performing similar duties, like bathing, dressing, feeding, changing diapers. But babies grow, mature, become more independent […]

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The small picture

When granted a front-row seat on our ever-evolving cultural landscape, it’s perfectly logical to wonder…what’s in store for me? It’s not so much about narcissism, but more about personal preservation. And to a large extent, fear. During our working years, for example, we baby boomers rarely questioned whether Social Security would be there for us […]

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Those selfish baby-boomers

The worst invectives ramped up to smother us during the mid-1960s––even though with staggering numbers like 78 million, only a tiny minority were marching for peace, carrying signs, and chanting, “One, two, three, four…” You wouldn’t know that, though, from media coverage. Columnists happily hearkened back even to our preschool years, which had required the […]

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A gradual trap, part 2

So how did I get snared into this caregiver’s obligation? Easy. What began as no big deal quickly became a permanent and ever-growing responsibility. I admit that assisting Mr. K. assuaged my remorse about not doing more for my own father, who suffered from similar handicaps––and obsessions. Five hours away, I simply could not visit […]

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A gradual trap, part 1

My elderly neighbor was becoming less mobile. He hung onto the jamb as he locked his door, then darted toward the staircase leading to the front entry. He clung to the railing for dear life, then pushed his way out the door and darted to his car. He could still drive, sort of. Sometimes I’d […]

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Are you really up for this? part 2

Most American caregivers are female. Estimates range from 66 percent (probably low) to 80 percent (probably high). More reliable is the stat that 65 million of us, some 29 percent of our population, are caring for an aged, chronically ill, or disabled family member or friend. The annual value of those services, usually provided for […]

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Are you really up for this? part 1

Most people are not. Oh, sure, they think they are. During the initial stages, they say, I can handle it. I can drop by to check on/assist my mom/dad/sister/brother/aunt/cousin once each week without getting stressed or feeling overwhelmed. But after several months of the insidious, creeping nature of obligation, they begin to feel gob smacked. […]

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Baggage carriers

Since caregivers don’t arrive at their jobs untouched and unblemished, it’s inevitable that they bring along a few…um, issues. Kara was driving her elderly mother around on some lunchtime errands. Mom had a handful of greeting cards to mail, so Kara obediently pulled up to the post office’s outdoor mailbox drop. “No,” her mother said. […]

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