Caregiving

Caring for Two Parents through Illness and Hospice

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Elizabeth knows what it’s like to be busy.

She raises two teenagers with her husband and works full time in IT product management. On top of this, she authors the Savvy Sandwicher, a blog dedicated to helping caretakers take care of themselves while sandwiched between different generations of family members in need of care.

Her sandwich was relatively open-faced until 2014. Up to that point, her elderly parents had been chronically ill for the past decade, but still lived independently in Florida. Elizabeth’s caring responsibilities were mainly focused on her two children, while occasionally making the six-hour drive to visit her parents.

Caring for Mom

Then, in the spring, her mother, Carole, was hospitalized with pneumonia. Carole spent weeks in the hospital and a rehab facility before returning home to finish her recovery. Elizabeth and her siblings took turns visiting her parents during Carole’s illness, but her dad, Larry, remained the main caregiver. He made all the appointments, paid the bills, invested their money and kept them moving in the right direction.

“In the case of my parents, my dad was considered healthier than my mom,” said Elizabeth. “He definitely was the primary caregiver for my mom and my 51-year-old developmentally disabled brother who lived with them.”

Caring for Dad, Too

This, too, changed suddenly when Larry contracted an infection after having a few teeth pulled. Carole had only been home a few weeks when Larry was hospitalized for complications in his lungs, kidneys and heart. Elizabeth and her family had used CaringBridge during her mother’s illness, and created a separate CaringBridge website for her father when he went into the hospital.

This time, the site didn’t just connect the family with the outside world. Due to Carole’s weakened condition, she couldn’t visit the hospital every day, so she relied on CaringBridge to remain close to her husband. Elizabeth referred to CaringBridge as her mom’s ‘lifeline.’

Carole saw the support he received through the posts and photos that loved ones left on Larry’s site. She also used the site to message Larry directly when her hearing trouble made phone calls with him difficult.

“Mom was cute,” said Elizabeth. “She would write lengthy letters to dad letting him know how much she needed him.”

As Larry’s condition worsened, Elizabeth and her siblings would read CaringBridge posts to him in his hospice center. Hearing the words of support and love raised his spirits during his final days. When the end was near, the family held a celebration of life service for Larry, sharing stories about him and the impression he had left on everyone’s lives.

Larry passed away in August 2014, just days after his celebration service. Shortly thereafter, Carole moved to an assisted living facility not far from Elizabeth. Elizabeth visits her once a week and often finds the CaringBridge app open on her mom’s iPad.

Even with Larry gone, Carole finds comfort in seeing the photos and reading the posts from all the people who loved him.

A Sense of Connection

A sense of connection is vital at every stage of a health journey. Whether it’s the people experiencing a health event or the caregivers sandwiched between them, everyone benefits from knowing that others love and care about them. For Elizabeth’s family, CaringBridge has connected them in many ways. It rallied support around Carole and Larry during their illnesses. It delivered love letters between the couple when they were apart.

And now it serves as a tie to the past, a memorial to Larry and the great amount of love he gave and received during his lifetime.

November is National Family Caregivers Month

In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, CaringBridge asks you to show your love and support to the millions of people providing care for a child, spouse, parent or friend. Add the hashtag #IHeartACaregiver to your profile picture via Twibbon by click on this link http://caringb.org/st, and give a shout out or post a photo to social media in honor of the caregiver in your life.

Here When You Need It

Are you or a loved one facing a health journey? If so, start a CaringBridge website, where you can share health updates and receive encouragement and support from your community.

Comments (6)

The ONE resource you need to initiate the power of prayer – Happy Healthy Caregiver Feb 12, 2016 10:30pm
[…] Caringbridge enabled us to easily set up a web page for mom so we could keep everyone who was concerned about mom’s health informed and in return they could help encourage her healing with sweet notes and photos.  This site allowed each of us who were with mom to have one central place where we could journal about her latest health updates and people could follow along.  This greatly reduced the number of phone calls, texts, and emails each of us would receive separately and allowed our friends and family to reach out and let us know they were thinking of us without feeling they were interrupting mom’s care.  After we setup the site, each person in my family posted the Caringbridge web address for mom’s page on our personal Facebook pages and from then on we used Caringbridge as our one resource to connect our community of support.  Everyone felt in the loop and was able to tailor their prayers to be even more specific for mom. […]
Servena Feb 08, 2016 6:48pm
Brlclianie for free; your parents must be a sweetheart and a certified genius.
Starr Nov 23, 2015 10:01pm
Where is Carol's son now? I missed the memo.
Etta Hays Nov 18, 2015 4:55pm
I think CaringBridge is a wonderful site for communicating with family & friends in regard to how your loved one is doing. My sister-in-law, during her illness & passing communicated with so many friends & family. It meant so much to her & her husband to read how much she was loved and supported. Our Grandson has been with CaringBridge since he was a toddler and is now eleven (11). Sadly he was hit by a car in May while riding his bike & still has a long recovery to go. Our Daughter & her husband (Mom & Dad) have been his care givers throughout all of this. CaringBridge has been such a good resource for them to update their friends & family who live away. Thank you so much!
paddy miller Nov 17, 2015 10:38am
wonderful story!
Elizabeth - Savvy Sandwicher Nov 06, 2015 1:49pm
Here's Carole using her iPad. She could very well been looking at Caringbridge. :-)

Comments are closed.