I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what is going on in each of your heads. To do that, I tried to recall what was going on in my head when I was a caregiver for my mom. On that basis, let me make a few guesses as to what is going on in your mind. I’m almost certain it is a complicated mix of thoughts and emotions.

  • How as I going to handle both my family and caregiving?
  • Why do I feel so stressed?
  • Where is the energy I used to have?
  • Am I making the right decision?
  • Will I be able to do all of what is expected of me?

Let’s face it, caretakers have a huge responsibility – some take on the task out of love, others out of obligation. In either case, you are “IT”. You are the one bearing the burden of having another human being’s welfare in your hands, an awesome responsibility!

Each of us has a different set of circumstances. In my case, I left my family in Pennsylvania and traveled to New Jersey to be with my mother three days a week. For a short time, I tried to schedule days so that either one of my two sisters or I was with my mom each day of the week. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I should not force my desires on others. You know what? – I was wrong. From that point on, I never asked what they were doing. I tried to make out I was an only child. I would do as much as I could for my mom. What I did, I did with love and caring. My siblings, whom I love, dealt in their own ways with helping out mom. I finally found peace within – No more comparing and measuring.

When I was caring for my mom, I did find ways of helping to make her life more comfortable (I was always so happy when she seemed pleased about something.) Here are some of those ways:

  • Instead of taking my mom to a restaurant, where we were relatively rushed and space restricted with her wheelchair, I took her to a pleasant food court in a Mall. This way, we were never rushed, a large restroom was nearby, and she loved watching all the activity going on.
  • I always carried an extra set of clothing and underwear for her, in my car trunk. (It was needed one day when we were out and she suddenly became ill.)
  • I arranged for my mom’s friends to come to the Mall and visit with us. Mom always looked forward to this. (I would call one week in advance and arrange with Mom’s friends’ daughters or granddaughters to drive.)
  • When I would leave my mom to go back to my family in Pennsylvania, I would always give her a big hug and kiss and told her whom we would be seeing the following week. (I truly believe we all need something to look forward to.) I would also hand her a magazine she enjoyed reading and “treats’ to snack on during the week.
  • I purchased a phone with very large numbers. I also took her telephone book and rewrote her important telephone numbers and names in very dark, large print. Her telephone was her lifeline to friends and family.
  • I purchased a radio and put it on the one AM station she always listened to. (I taped a little note on top of the radio telling anyone who might change the station where to put it back.)
  • When my sister & I found it necessary to find a nursing home for my mom, we tried to make her room as comfortable as possible.
    1. I made a collage of pictures of her from her younger years through her 90’s. She was so proud of that. I put it right over her bed. From her wheelchair, she would stare at it and be ready to reminisce whenever anyone commented on her beauty in the photos.
    2. We purchased a large clock with numbers she could easily see.
    3. There was a notebook I put near her bed. I asked visitors to sign their names when they visited. That way, we could see who was kind enough to spend some time with mom. I tied a pen to the book so one would always be handy.
    4. My mom always complained of feeling cold. I found a cozy, soft scarf. I folded each end up to make two pockets. She wore this scarf around her neck most of the time. When her hands got cold, she would stick them in the pockets.
    5. I found a cute decal that said, “Have wheels, will travel,” and put it on the back of her wheelchair. People would pass by, comment and laugh. She loved the attention. (Remember – humor almost always works!)
    6. When her eyesight deteriorated, I purchased a man’s watch with an expandable band (some links had to be removed) and very large numbers. She always liked to have a watch.

It is amazing what unique ideas caregivers come up with to help make their loved ones more comfortable and at peace. As I said before, when I felt my mom was comfortable and at peace, my life seemed calmer. Perhaps there can be an exchange of unique, helpful ideas you caregivers out there would like to share.

Remember, You are only one person. You cannot control your loved one’s aging process or happiness. Be loving and caring. Don’t expect accolades. If you truly are doing your best, be at peace. That peace will grow even stronger after your loved one is gone. Then, you will have little reason to feel guilty about doing your part during a very hard time. Please remember as you fall asleep tonight to save one big hug for yourself. Only a fellow caregiver knows how much you need it and deserve it.

Copyrighted by Dee Marrella from “Who Cares”


  • Dee Marrella has experienced life as a military wife and a corporate wife and as a result has seen much of the world and experienced many varied cultures. Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Dee spent twenty plus years in the field of education in both Europe and the United States. Experiencing these different cultures afforded her the opportunity to observe vast differences in the ways caregivers interact with older individuals within societies

    "Who Cares" was written for Dee's daughters after the death of her mother. She did not want her daughters to experience the pain and stress she did as a caregiver. This book should be filled out by an individual while he/she is healthy and alert - for his/her Future Caregiver(s)

    Dee resides in Wyomissing, PA with her husband Len. They are proud parents of three grown daughters who have given them seven grandchildren.