Thursday, May 31, 2012

When the "what ifs" come true

Life throws us curveballs sometimes.

We never know what is going to happen to parents, siblings, or even ourselves. Two years ago, my sister-in-law had a dramatically life-changing accident. She is only in her 40s, but caregiving is now a front-and-center part of her life. It is not easy to think about medical scares, accidents, and aging, but it is important. We should have a plan for the big "what ifs" in life, because educating ourselves now is a whole lot easier than in the stress of a difficult situation.

I've partnered with Genworth Financial to bring you a guest post, highlighting one of those "what ifs" turned reality. This is not my post - for all who know my mom in real life, she is fine!

But these words really make you think...

Caring for Mom
A guest post, sponsored by Genworth Financial

I had a rude awakening with my mother the other day. It was Friday, the day when she usually picks up my daughter from pre-school. She’s been doing it for months now – and she loves the time she gets to spend with her granddaughter.

But last Friday she forgot. I got a call from the school. I left work and ran over to get my daughter. I called my mother from the car. She had no idea she was on carpool duty.

I’ve been so busy that I’ve forgotten things (my keys, my wallet, to call a friend, to brush my hair). And yes, I’ll admit it, when my daughter was an infant, I even left the house once without her – but I only made it as far as the driveway.

But there was something about my mother’s forgetfulness that didn’t fit with the routinely harried forgetfulness that is so recognizable to all of us. When I spoke with her, she had no recognition of what day it was and what she was supposed to do. Even more unsettling was the call I got back from her twenty minutes later when she remembered.

Obviously, she was incredibly distraught. And it has occurred to both of us that we might be entering an unfortunate period in her life when age and forgetfulness collide in the terrible thing that is Alzheimer’s disease.

This week we have a number of doctor’s appointments scheduled. I certainly hope that Alzheimer’s is not the final diagnosis. But even so, she will age and one day she will need care. I am working mom, and it’s already a stretch to find affordable childcare.

All of a sudden, I feel that we are to be launched into a whole new world of caregiving. Maybe it’s because I care for her so much, or maybe it’s because I’m completely Type A, but I don’t want to wait until it’s too late to know what we’re getting into. There’s a lot of educating to catch up on. And these are not easy issues to talk about, but fortunately, there are a lot of available resources out there. It is somewhat comforting to know that there are many other families that have gone through similar experiences and to know we are not alone.

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Post brought to you by Genworth Financial
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