Brittany D
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The Struggles of Caregiving

It's worth every second.

It's not everyday you witness the end of a long and wise circle. You start your life thinking of what you will do with it, what you will experience, and where you will go.

Children, a family, work, or a life of travel are all possibilities. You live your life not really thinking of the end, or rather the last bit of your life. Who will care for you? Will they care?

Some people have concerns when it comes to elderly homes. It's understandable, given that most of them have too many tenants and not enough caregivers. They are spread too thin, tired and exhausted. There are others who just don't give good quality of care, but that's easy enough to spot from reviews.

I am a caregiver and I look after my 98-year-old grandfather. My family has been blessed that we've had my Grandpa around for so many years. He's seen and experienced so much. He did very well up until he was 91 or 92. Things got a little difficult when my dear Grandma passed away in 2012; he was always asking about where she was, why she wasn't here, and the few times we told him the truth? Well, it just broke his heart.

Our family decided that we would just tell him she was in the hospital. He accepted that much easier and he was doing really well. He was eating on his own, talking, laughing, and using the facilities just like he had always done.

It's a mental strain on the caregiver, not because these elderly folk can be difficult sometimes, but because life stands still for them. My Grandpa often thinks he has to go to his home when he is already home, and he asks pretty frequently where his mother is. Going to school, going to work, and driving a bus, he recollects all of the things he used to do during his work days.

You have to be very patient to be a caregiver. You can't snap or get crabby at them. My Grandpa probably asks me the same question 100 times a day, and I answer back the exact same answer 100 times. I answer like it is the first time he's asked me the question. He gets angry from time to time, especially if he thinks he's said something wrong.

My Grandpa is now 98 years old and he's about to be 99 in February. He naps a lot, kind of like Rip Van Winkle. He likes to watch western movies from the old days: John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, and all the old guys I can't remember. Basically, if they are from the 70s and back my Grandpa likes them. If the graphics are too real my Grandpa has a difficult time watching them. That's okay though because I have other things to do while he's watching old movies. I tune in for Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, and Steve McQueen, but tune out when others come on. We chat about what's going on, who is in them, the plot, and sometimes we watch something I like. Grandpa liked Christopher Robin quite well. He also liked Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner in Broken Trail; he thought that was very good. I quite liked it, too. My Grandpa used to read often, but you'll find the older they get that the less they'll read. It's hard for them to keep track of where they are. This morning I think I heard a local sheriff who made an annual salary of 156,000 maybe five times. He read it over and over again. He's reading it right now.

The point of all of this is don't cast your family away too quickly. While all the questions and such are annoying at times, the things my Grandpa has done for me in my life, he deserves to be cared for by family. My Grandpa bought me my first horse. My second Grandpa bought me my second horse. I wish I could take care of my other Grandpa, too, but he lives on the other side of the US.

My Grandpa is also a veteran. He protected us during World War II. He has dreams sometimes about those days. He was telling me a story about how hot it was in Vietnam and it was his turn to sleep up top on the truck. His friend begged him for the spot instead. My Grandpa gave it to his friend and moments later he was killed by an explosion. The other guys were safe because they were inside. He yells, screams, and swears sometimes in the night. He talks to people who aren't there and he gets angry if he wakes up during a dream he thinks is real.

It's all worth it though. The sleepless nights, the assistance he needs that I give, the cooking, watching, and caring are all worth it. I will be here until he isn't here anymore, and that will never change.

Love your family, you only have them for so long.

Happy writing and may you walk the road less traveled.

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