My Best Advice: Don’t Wait to Seek Help

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by caregiver, Roberta Payne (Oakland, CA)

It started when my Aunt went to the hospital for a procedure to check her heart. I cannot remember the precise name of that procedure however, my mother told me the day before that there was a slight chance that things could go wrong, according to her medical book. The last words I heard my aunt tell me as she stuck her hands out wide were, "Say a prayer for me this long!"

I was at my Aunt's home, when we got a call saying she was ready to be picked up. Then, a little while later as she was getting herself dressed, she collapsed. That night was very long. She was in a coma, however, the doctor told us she would not live through the night. My husband and I rushed to the hospital, along with my 3 year old son at the time. I kept praying, "Lord, please keep Aunt Mary alive for Uncle Stanley."

Sure enough, that prayer was answered, she stayed with us for another 4 months. Since my Uncle did not own the home he lived in, with my Aunt for 40+ years, her family wanted him moved so they could sell the property. We were very angry at this situation. So we took my Uncle in. My son was very young at the time, so you can imagine the stress that comes along with this, as I was also taking care of my uncle, and mother. My father is bipolar, and my mother could no longer take care of him, however I became conservator for him as I was getting nowhere with anyone at the hospital when I would call to see how he was doing. Because I was not conservator of his person at the time, and due to HIPPA law, even though I was the daughter, I had to get permission from the County Conservator for this information. Instead, I made it priority to be his conservator.

To make a long story short, I was able to have my Uncle and my mother go to our local senior center. My uncle got back into painting like he did when he was a young man. My mother did art as well. I prepared my uncles meals and I was so good at it, I got his diabetes numbers down. That was a great accomplishment for me, however, having an active little boy, made it very stressful as well. So we had to find an assisted living home for my uncle. He was very happy in his last years. He passed away in 2011 from Lung Disease and Pneumonia.

Currently, I take care of my mother. She will need knee surgery soon. My son will be 13 this year. It has been very stressful on my marriage, child, and myself. If I could turn back the clocks of time, I would have found another way. In these almost 10 years, I have had only an estimated week and a half from having to cook or clean. But thanks to Family Caregiver Alliance, who I approached just this year, I was able to have my mother go on a retreat for the weekend. I am grateful for this help. But I am at the point where I need extra care for her as I need to make a change in my life. It has been very hard throughout the years. My next challenge at this point, is finding the right care home for my mother.

The best advice I can give is to seek help from FCA as soon as you can. I wish I could have found resources for myself sooner. I have been caring so much for others, I forgot about myself. I have dedicated so much time and patience,  but sometimes the person you care for does not understand or realize how much time and effort you have put into them. That is my situation now. Do not wait as long as I have. Seek help and guidance now, before it is too late.


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