Caregiving – are you prepared?

“They’re trying to kill me!” my Mom screamed into the telephone. I had just gotten home on a Sunday morning after spending all day Saturday with my Mom and staying overnight (trying to sleep in a chair in her room) to try to keep her calm in her new environment at the nursing home. I quickly assured my Mom I was on my way back, hung up the phone, put my head in my hands and proceeded to have a mini nervous breakdown. Luckily, my husband was there, took me by the hand and put me into a warm shower, washed my back and calmed me down so I would be in a better frame of mind to face what lay ahead.

My caregiving responsibilities started back in 2007 when I noticed that my Mom was having some memory issues, falling often and wasn’t quite herself anymore. Of course, I was not prepared for this new responsibility and didn’t know where to turn to prepare myself. I started by asking a co-worker who had an aging Mother in a nursing home if she could give me some direction. I was told, “You will have to ask for everything.” Truer words were never spoken.

Not knowing where to turn, I found myself doing research online, not finding much help or at least not knowing what to look for to get information. I am almost certain some of the services that are available now, would have been available back in 2007 but I was just lost and very unprepared. Complicating matters was the fact that I was working full time in a very demanding job , trying to maintain my own responsibilities and now was faced with making time in what seemed like an already overly packed schedule to care for my Mom. This did not leave much time to do research or look for help, much less take care of myself. Fortunately, I did have help from my brother who stepped in as co-caregiver and many times did more than his share when I could not cope with the stress. However, he too was clueless and very unprepared so we both just jumped in and did the best we could. Probably not the best way to handle it!

Of course, looking back we both agree we should have been more prepared – not only in where to find help but also in taking care of ourselves! As the airlines say, when the oxygen mask comes down, put the mask on yourself first before assisting others. In my attempts at finding some help, I had read that many caregivers pass away before the cared for person does. That caught my attention!

Fast forward from 2007 to present day! In doing a bit of research online recently, I now find what seems like unlimited information/services for caregivers. Eureka! These resources range from respite and support services to online classes, caregiving events and conferences to name just a few. In my opinion, this must be in part due to what I believe is an acknowledgement of the vital role caregivers have in providing for loved ones and probably an increasing aging population.

Resources abound for individual caregivers and there now seems to be a multitude of caregiver agencies, assisted living facilities, agencies on aging, and much more to assist in helping make informed decisions. To that end, has compiled a “One-Stop” list of available resources in the TwinPorts area encompassing Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor, Cloquet and Superior (see listings under Assisted Living, Home Care & Nursing Homes in this Guide).

Do you have a past or current caregiving experience you would like to share?