Archive for the ‘CNN’ Category

“You want to see my new girlfriend?” My friend’s husband teased his wife one day as I was visiting her in the hospital. He is her caregiver, her husband, her lover, her muse and mentor  of 40 years, and her illness had put a real strain on their relationship. 

He pulls out his wallet, takes out a picture and shows it to her. I can tell it’s a joke because he’s grinning from ear-to-ear. She breaks out in laughter despite her pain. They show me the picture.

It was a picture he had taken of his hand!

My friend was in the hospital–that time for close to three weeks. She has a chronic disease that has attacked her intestines. Her husband had sold his business and they had rearranged their life to accommodate this hostile addition to their family–illness.

Both of them had visions of their golden years–traveling in their RV, grandchildren, financial security, and lots and lots of leisure and fun. Hospitals, drugs, and pain was not what either had in mind.

To say that their sex life diminished is an understatement.

To say that sex doesn’t matter in the face of disease and pain is to not look at the whole situation. Sex does matter. It’s the one thing couples do together that they don’t “do” with anyone else. It’s a glue, a bond, a secret language, a healer of life’s wounds…to simply and biologically state it, sex is a needed release.

More magazine has an interesting article in September 09’s issue on this very subject. They state that 75% of all marriages that are dealing with chronic illness long-term end in divorce.

These aren’t shallow people. This isn’t Jon and Kate splashing their news on the headlines (not that they’re shallow, marriage is tough and I hurt for them and their children). These are quiet, hard working, family oriented people who  face surmounting, mind-boggling stress, heartbreak, financial ruin, unbelievable and unrelenting pain. And the one thing that can combat all this–their marriage and the healing powers of sex and intimacy–are taken from them.

How do couples get through caregiving and the strains it places on their marriage?

I observed my couple friends and this is what I’ve gathered.

You readjust.

You let go of what you thought life would be.

You dig deep to find your integrity.

 You find joy in the smallest of things. You find purpose as a caregiver.

You use your anger not at each other like weapons of mass destruction, but together, to get things done, to let off steam, to keep from going crazy…and you turn that anger into humor–maybe a little sick and twisted–but it keeps it from turning toxic inside you.

You do what you have to do to get by–and it’s nobody’s business. How you define sex may be different than other couples, and how and when you’re intimate may not fit the national average.

You get strong and tough and tender and real all at the same time.

I have no big answers here. It’s too complex and too gritty to give you bullet points–as if you could fire them on target and make it all instantly go away. What I have gathered from my friends and others I’ve seen going through years of what illness can do to a relationship is that the ones that make it create this circle of energy around themselves. They are one.

Couples who face caregiving challenges together have come through the fire, and on the surface, no, life didn’t turn out like they thought it would–but in many ways, it’s better. I witnessed it in my parent’s marriage.  The unity, the simplicity, the bond they have, they earned. You can see it in their eyes, they familiar gestures of thoughtfulness, the resolve in their voice. They have something profound.

~Carol O’Dell

Author, Mothering Mother


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Today, the Today Show had a six-year old little girl on their show who is a singing sensation. She can belt out the national anthem with a voice to rival Ethyl Merman. Natalie Morales introduced her and said that the little girl also lives with autism.

Words are important. Autism cannot be viewed as a death sentence–especially not for a child who has their whole life ahead.

Living with or suffering with makes a big difference.

If you have Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, or cancer, you have to eventually come to choice–do you choose to live or suffer?

Personally, I hope to never say the word, “suffer” again. I don’t want to suffer with anything!

Suffering implies pain, sorrow, heavy burden…agony. And yes, there are moments, days, even months where pain and sorrow overwhelms life–but as my very religious, very southern mother used to say when asked how she was, she’d reply…

“Well…I don’t want the devil to hear me!”

She didn’t want to entomb herself in negativity.

Caregivers, how do you talk about your role? Begin to observe your words.

How do you introduce yourself?

“I’m just a caregiver?”

“I’m just caring for my mom?”

Really? Just a caregiver? That’s like saying you’re just the president of the United Stats, just a mom, just a CIA assasin!

Even if you are at home with your loved one, or even living with them. You can introduce yourself any way you like–“I’m an artist, I’m a teacher (even if you’re not in a classroom now, do you ever stop teaching? I’m in school (are you taking an online class? That counts.”

If you introduce yourself as a caregiver, then do it with pride.

But also introduce the fact that you’re a daughter, a wife, a friend. Your role as a caregiver is admirable, but your loved one needs to hear you say that you’ll always be their daughter/sister/spouse first.

How will anyone respect you and perceive what you do as important if you don’t?

Choose. Choose your words. Choose to care for your loved one.

No one is making you be a caregiver. You may think they are. You may believe that you have to, that your loved one has no one else, that it’s your responsibility…but realize that it is a choice. Other people in your same situation have said no. The world will not end. Is it the right thing to do? To say no? Every family is differentt, and my point is that you choose.

If you choose caregiving–part-time, full-time, in your home, their home, as a working caregiver, or an advocate for your loved one who is in a care facility–whatever the living/working arrangment is–choose. Caregiving is a part of who you are, it’s a role, what you do with your time and energy.

Take the helplessness, choice-lesness out of your vocalbulary.

~I’m Carol D. O’Dell, and I hope you’ll check out my book, Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

It’s available on Amazon, other online stores and in bookstores. Kunati Publishing

I’m a family advisor on Caring.com, and my syndicated blog appears on www.opentohope.com.

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This June, my mother will celebrate her sixth anniversary “on the other side.”

I can hardly believe it’s been that long. I spent the first year in grief and rebuilding my life.

That’s normal, and you can’t rush it or fix it. It was more like two years, and that’s also “normal.”

That’s how long it takes to assimilate a death, process your emotions, and begin to incorporate your loved one into your being. Of course, averages are just numbers and each person’s process if different, but you really shouldn’t expect much from yourself during those first two years–at least that long. 

For me, that time was a mix of guilt, regret, longing, lostness, mania, and vacillating between lethargy and intensity. To the outside world, I might not have looked like I skipped a beat, but what choice did I have?

I was a sand-gener–I had daughters to finish raising, to get into college. I returned to college myself, lost 30 pounds, stayed married, wrote my book, wrote short stories, essays and articles–I looked busy. I was busy. But there was a whole lot going on under the surface.

But only in retrospect can we see the bigger picture.

Now, I can look back and see where I’ve been and what I’ve learned.

It’s a laundry list and I can’t say when I learned what.

There’s no order, only this is what I know–about caregiving, life, death, mothers, daughters, families, faith, and surviving.

What I Learned:

  • I’m glad I didn’t know what was ahead–if I did, I would have never gone on this journey. 
  • Believe that caregiving has come into your life to heal you, show you things about yourself, give you a chance to work on old issues–and that in the end, you’ll emerge a better person.  
  • To accept myself and my mother and our relationship “as is.” It’s okay not to try and fix things.
  • Forgiveness are like small pebbles you pick up along the way–nothing big and monumental–just a gathering of what I choose to keep–and what I leave behind.
  • Doctors and nurses aren’t gods and I don’t have to do everything they say. I can speak up, ask for somehting different. I know my loved one much better than they do–and I have to make–and live with my decisions.
  • For the most part, going into the hospital in those last few years only made things worse. It wore me out, and there is a time to just accept that your loved one’s health is falling apart and let it.
  • Live with the chaos, the dishes, the laundry–sleep whenever I can–there are times to just get by.
  • Stop worrying about what my relatives or our neighbors think. Unless you’ve been a caregiver, youy can’t fathom what this is like.
  • To ask for more and more and more help. I tried to do too much alone and on my own.
  • Trust that I will bounce back from caregiving. Don’t drive my health to the absolute bitter edge (just almost), but then reclaim my health, my life, and my sanity and move on.
  • Guilt and resentment take up too much time and energy–stop giving my power away by mulling on things I can’t change.
  • You might not want to piss off all your doctors and nurses because you might eventually need them–so be savvy about how you deal with them.
  • If you’re forced choosing between your health, your marriage, your sanity, your children–and your elder–then choose your life to put first. Not theirs. As cold as that sounds, life moves forward. This doesn’t mean you ditch them on the side of the road, but in your mind and heart, put your life first.
  • Don’t just tolerate things you can’t stand. Stop being passive agressive and complaining about it later. Do something about it. Pitch a fit. Tell off your sibling. Fire a home health aide. Scream for help. Be a bitch. It probably isn’t the first time–nor will it be your last. You get what you tolerate, so stop tolerating so much. (I’m talking to myself, here)
  • No matter how religious a person may have been in their life, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fearful of death. Fear, or lack of, has more to do with a person’s psychological make up, and a way they’ve practiced seeing and responding to life–and this will determine how they handle death.
  • Realize that those last few years, months, or weeks may be more about semantics–that their spirit has already left this earth and the shell, their body, just hasn’t left yet. Be okay with taking care of that shell–but don’t make it hard, and don’t over think.
  • Understand that anger is sometimes a useful emotion–it’s a way we protect ourselves, but there’s also a time to lay anger down.
  • Laugh whenver you can–at whatever you can. Be irreverent, be snarky, other than downright cruelty, laughter is so good for you that you need to see the humor and crazyness of your situation.
  • For the most part, go with your gut. Do what feels most natural, particularly after your loved one passes and you’re grieving. Sleep, eat, cry, run a marathon, join thepeace corp–whatever is driving you, let it drive you–it’s part of your journey, and other than truly dangerous behavoir, you can’t screw up, so go for it.
  • You feel really lost after losing your mother. You wonder who you are without them to help define you. Later, you might even feel free-er, less confined.
  • Missing someone hurts, but sometimes it’s good to hurt.
  • It may take a few years, but eventually, let go of the exhaustion, resentment, guilt, and begin to enjoy your new relationship with your loved one. People “on the other side” still teach us, guide us, speak to us–and realize that they are now a part of who you are. You carry them with you.
  • Understand that you may have to care give again–a spouse, another parent, a sibling, who knows? Begin to think–how would you do it different?

Here I am, almost to June. Six years ago I was at my mother’s bedside.

It was grueling, and the weeks were dribbling by.

It rained every day, and my mother was in a coma. It felt like she’d never die. That may sound cruel, but I was beyond all human niceties. It also felt like I’d never live. Practically speaking, I knew I couldn’t fix Alzheimer’s. I knew her living would keep her in a place of perpetual lostness, and I didn’t want that for either of us.

I hated everybody–hospice, me, my mother–and then I let go and just allowed.

The barometric pressure felt off the chart. ‘

Death had to come, but when? Mother had quit eating and drinking, and I let her. That was an excruciating decision, but I chose to let her leave this world. I chose not to intebate her, to do a feeding tube. I knew that this decision would be one I would have to bear alone. I would have to sit there, every minute and see the ramifications of my choice. I did, and as hard as it was, as many times as I wanted to panic, jump up, run out, beg for intervention, I didn’t. I stayed firm.

My world grew calm, my movements quiet. We waited.

And here I am–six years forward. Blogging. I had no idea I would wind up blogging every day. I doubt I even knew what a blog was at the time.

My book, Mothering Mother has been out a year. I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of caregivers. I’ve been featured on CNN and other tv and radio programs. I’ve written a novel about Vincent Van Gogh, and finished my prequel, Said Child. I graduated from Jacksonville University and danced at my daughter’s wedding, and buried our beagle. Life is full. It swells and ebbs.

What I’ve learned is to accept each day, the power of now. Each season. To be alive with what is given to me at the time. To realize I’m not so much in control as I am in the flow. I am a part of what is happening, not orchestrating it.

Caregiving gave my life a deeper meaning. It revealed things about me, how I think, how I handle life–things I’m proud of and things I’d like to address.

One thing for sure, caregiving changes you in ways you can’t imagine.  

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon


Family Advisor at www.Caring.com

Syndicated Blog at www.OpentoHope.com

Publisher: www.kunati.com


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If someone microchips their dog we think of them as acting loving and responsible.

Is that a good enough reason to put a microchip in a human? Isn’t that too “big brother-ish?”

We also put dogs to sleep, right? So maybe that’s not the best analogy.

As you can see, microchipping a human is controversial.


Some would argue it’s an invasion of privacy.

Others would argue it could be used by someone other than a family member or police.

Others say there are health concerns, such as cancer.

We insert pacemakers, steel rods and plates, silicone and collagen into our bodies, surely we can figure out how to make a tiny chip safe (enough) to give us some peace of mind.

What do you think?

You might feel different if you’ve ever lost your mom or dad. If they’ve ever snuck out of the house half dressed or not dressed at all. If they have Alzheimer’s and are not thinking clearly–insist they’re going to catch a taxi–my mother said that constantly even though I’m not sure she had ever ridden in a taxi in her life–and how in the world did she happen to remember that word but not her own daughter’s name?

Many, many, many night, I caught my mother trying to escape. We had several safety measure on the doors, and an alarm system that would beep if any doors or windows were opened, but still, I worried. She insisted she had to go preach, had to go to church, needed to go to the store and mostly….she needed to go home.

I was also worried because there was a river in our back yard and a 17 foot bluff/drop off. That didn’t seem to register to mother who was drawn more to the driveway and the street. We caught her in the bushes–a lot. And I was a vigilant caregiver. She was just slippery. I actually thanked God she had Parkinson’sto slow her down. Terrible thing to be thankful for, but as I see other moms with Alzheimer’s, and knowing my mother’s strength and fiestiness, I was grateful for any deterrent.

Why “chip?”

  • So they won’t get out and get hit by a car.
  • So they wont’ be kidnapped, raped, fall, wander in the woods.
  • So that so much time doesn’t lapse that they miss crucial medications.
  • So that if they take a car, bus, or train, you’ll know and won’t spend precious minutes, hours, or days in absolute panic and terror.

So yes, I would microchip. Give the benefits of the chip outweighs the risks.  I think. 

Let’s not confuse the issue here: most microchips simply hold information so that if/when the person is found, the information can be “read.” Most of these chips are not tracking devices. Technically, they’re called RFID–Radio Frequency Identification Device. 

One of the major controversies has to do with several studies that suggest that these implanted devices could cause subcutanous sarcomas — malignant tumors. This isn’t due to the radio frequency, it’s simply due to something foreign being under the skin (the tumors develop around the chip itself. Opponents argue that of the 10 million chipped pets, this isn’t a major issue, but it is something to think about.

So now, I’m back to wondering, would I?

The chip will only help “mom” out when someone (the police, etc) find her. If she’s stuck out in the woods tangled in briars, it won’t help?

I guess in my situation, I wouldn’t have been overly concerned about the cancer, considering her age and the greater risk of her getting lost–but I’d only do it it kept my mom safe and allowed us to find her quickly. I would want her found minutes, not days later.

One major microchip company that has recently been in the news is Verichip.

The chips about the size of a grain of rice and contains a 16-digit identification number which is scanned at a hospital. Once the number is placed in a database, it can provide crucial medical information.

This chip is now being tested in about 25 Alzheimer’s and elder/ill persons in Palm Beach,  and Del Ray Beach, Florida.

Here are some articles on microchips so you can decide for yourself:




Memory disorder units use various types of wander protection for their residents. They have to. This is different than microchipping, but eventually, microchipping will be incorporated into this system. If you ever have to place your loved one somewhere due to Alzheimer’s, then you’ll need to know how they safeguard their residents. A building full of Alzheimer’s patients could spell disaster without a decisive protection plan. That’s why these units cost so much. You can expect to pay 4-6,000 dollars a month. (gasp)

One such system is Roam Alert, and here’s a diagram of how it works in a facility. Each resident must wear a non-removable band. While this may cause skin irritation and some patients obssess about it, it’s a necessary component.



Benefits to the wanderer:

  • Freedom to interact with other residents
  • Freedom to use facility’s resources
  • Safety from wandering into dangerous areas


To cognitive residents:

  • Freedom to mingle with all residents
  • Avoid “prison lock-down” image


To the facility:

  • first line of defense
  • Insurance coverage
  • Quick response to wandering

I’m not endorsing anything here, I’m just using these companies as examples of what’s out there. Most family caregivers are too busy doing the actual care–driving to the docs, cleaning up, meds, and food prep to have the time or energy to do all this research.

I can’t help but believe that this is all a matter of time until we track and chip our loved one’s who cannot make good judgements. We will have to reconcile our sense of moral obligation in regard to privacy issues with our moral obligation to keep them safe.

Will there be abuses? I’m sure. Just like all technology, it’s amoral and up to the user to be ethical. We can already track people by their cell phones, and as the numbers of Alzheimer’s patients swell, this will not only become big business, it’ll become a national concern.

If not the chip, how do we keep mom and dad (or our husbands and wives, sisters and brothers) safe?

I’m just asking because I truly don’t know the answer.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon




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I had this huge personal revelation that was a part of a deep belief system–and I realized that I did this very “thing” during caregiving–and if I did this, other caregivers might be doing it too.

This is the “thing” I’m talking about.

Paying for what you’ve done.

Example: You know how when you’re a kid and you’re supposed to get to go do something fun–like say, to go a birthday party–your parents tell you that to be able to go you have to clean your room, cut the grass, and when you get back you also have to do all your homework for the week?

In other words, you have to pay for having the good time.

And of course, you really had to PAY if you were ever bad–came home late, got in trouble (they called it punishment)

Well, I realized that I was (and am) still doing this to myself.

If I went out of town or went out to dinner with girlfriends, I’ve always made sure the house was clean, there was extra dogfood–and if I was gone a few days, I’d make sure there was a roast in the crock pot, a lasagna in the freezer…in other words, PAYMENT.

I couldn’t ever just believe I deserved something good.

Not just a gift–a gift is given sometimes to the UNdeserving.

I mean, believing deep down that I deserved something good–with no need to pay for it in any way.

Remember the old Puritan Ethic?

Work hard and God will reward you.

 I twisted it even further…Work hard or God won’t reward you.

Even after you’ve been rewarded, STILL work hard because you probably haven’t worked hard enough! In other words…work, work, work!

Did I hardly ever give myself a break (in part) as a caregiver? Not too much because I believed I had to PAY for past transgressions. I told myself I couldn’t find good help (in part, true), or that mother wouldn’t adjust (also true) or…the list went on. I know now that I thought I had to pay for my own good health, or pay if I were to even think about having a good time. 

Sick, I know. 

I’m hoping someone out there will step up and tell me

I’m not the only one who does this.

Recently, as most of you know, I published a book, Mothering Mother.I’ve spent months and months at caregiving talks, book signings, TV and radio spots. I’ve gotten lots of attention–something adults don’t like to talk about. I’ve received “fan” mail from wonderful caregivers and readers, I’ve received roses at special events…been on CNN, and it’s been hard, hard work, but it’s also been a whole lotta fun!

I’m suited for this. I love the juxtaposition of thought and quiet and contemplation and creating something on the page–and then I LOVE dressing up, “performing” mom and me in my little one act plays where I do both of us–I love making people laugh and cry. I love signing books! I could do it all day! I love knowing that I’ve touched someone’s lives. I even love the drives, the bookstores, the blogs.

Yikes. Does part of me believe that because I love it so, so much that I should have to “pay” for all this fun?

Now, a little bit of the hullabaloo has worn off and I realize that I’ve lapsed into this “I need to pay my family back for all that.” I’ve taken time away, stayed overnight, spent copious hours online and in bookstores. They’ve been patient and proud, but I’m sure it gets old.

It’s not that they asked or demanded anything.

But I see that I’ve been in drudgery mode lately–working hard with no joy. Taking jobs that are clearly not me. I thought I had to. I had so much to pay back.

I once had this great therapist who said the magic words that

changed my life…

“It’s a new day!”

So, I ask you–is there some part of you that took on the role of primary caregiver, or hardly ever lets yourself take a break because you believe you have to pay something back? Am I attracting this because I believe I need to pay? Do I feel guilty that my loved one is sick/dying?

Do I need to pay?

For being that black sheep?

For that adventure in college?

For screwing up my finances?

For taking off and letting my siblings deal with mom and dad for a while?

Because I enjoy good health and financial security?

Let it go. (I says to me-self)

Look at the sky and say, “Thanks!” That’s it. 

A heart of gratitude is all that’s asked. That’s The Secret.

Make a list of what you deserve:

I deserve to have daily joy.

I deserve to view myself with tenderness and compassion.

I deserve to be appreciated.

I deserve regular breaks.

I deserve help on a consistent basis.

I deserve a real vacation every year.

I deserve to caregive out choice and heart of love.

I deserve for my siblings/family to contribute.

I deserve for my thoughts and opinons to be respected.

As for caregiving, yeah, you may still want to and need to give care–but this could be the revelation that changes everything–and open up new opportunities.

It’s a new day.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon


Kunati Publishing


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Sometimes family members have done all they can do.

Even with home-health aids, their loved one’s care needs become too much.  As much as I encourage elders to live in their own homes and communities as long as they can, and as much as I believe in family cargiving, I do know that there might come a time when you’ve done all you can do.

When do you know it’s time for a care home?

When your own health fails. When the melancholy overwhelms you and won’t let go.

When one–or even two home health aides aren’t enough. When even night aides don’t help.

When the atmosphere of your home grows toxic, depressed, and so heavy that no matter what you do, you can’t seem to rise above it.

When your children–or your marriage begins to “fail to thrive.”

These are some of the important markers that might mean you’ve done all you can–and sometimes you can circumvent them–or reverse them.

But let’s face it. All care facilities (I’d rather call them care homes, but some are not home-like at all) are not created equal. A lot of times, it’s a matter of money that will afford you a “clean, well-lighted” place, but money can’t buy a  community of care, a sense of joy, or the compassion needed to treat our elders with respect and tenderness. I’ve seen too many care facilities that are just that–facilities–with cookie cutter care weighted down with depression, riddled with beuracracy, underpaid, overworked staff with too many patients to care for.

What would a great care home look like?

If I ran the zoo,

here’s some elements I’d like to see in an

Ideal Care Home:

  • A care home in a community based location that would also include a pre-school, a community garden, an arts center (open for everyone) as well as nearby medical facilities
  • Interns would be cycled by using high school and college students–including art majors, nursing and medical students, psych and education majors
  • Research connected with major universities would allow for additional funding and offer state-of-the-art equipment and care to seek breakthroughs in diseases and care strategies
  • Holiday celebrations would be held in the courtyard or in the arts center and would include children, seniors, family members, and the community
  • The community arts center would be a gathering place for all ages–with classes, activities, a garden, sports, and learning opportunities where various ages could interact and learn from each other
  • Nanny cams, tracking devices and other wireless technologies would be throughout and monitored appropriately to not only keep track of patients, but monitor their vitals–as well as available via internet for family members
  • Family members would be encouraged to take their loved  ones for the day or for the weekend and would be given the support they need to do so
  • Elder “jobs” would be available where the more able bodied could assist or educate others
  • The latest, most innovative care would be used (and studied) to assist those with advanced disorders, including memory disorder diseases
  • Alternative therapies such as accupuncture, aromatherapy would be incorporated for a whole care approach–and offered to family members
  • Medical information would be explained to family members (as well as a copy given to the primary caregiver so their care could be followed) in a timely, respected manner and their input would be valued. Loved ones would also be trained in proper care and encouraged to participate in safe and appropriate ways
  • Speakers and teachers from the community at large would be honored to come and share their insights–they share their art, inventions, and innovations
  • Care workers would be paid more than minimum wage and also offered further training and education. They would be expected to improve in their skills and interaction–as well and offered the opportunity to advance
  • Low patient to care staff ratio–particularly in memory disorder units
  • End of life would be neither hindered or hastened. It would be honored, holy, and sacred. Families could experience this at the care home or allowed to take their loved one home and know that they were doing the right thing by  allowing a peaceful passing

Now, I know that there are lots of logistics involved in pulling off a place like this–and then there are discussions of socialized medicine and a socialized society, and I don’t want to get into all that. This is more of a heart plea than a city planning meeting.

Even if some of these elements are considered, families would feel better about placing their loved ones in care homes. I also know if many care facilities that already incorporate many of these elements–but what I do know is that we have to require proper and even innovative care for our elders.

In the end, our compassion defines our humanity. 

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon



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I’m a sandwich generation caregiver.

My 89-year old adoptive mother (who suffered with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) moved in with us–my husband and I, two of our three daughters, plus a menagerie of dogs and cats.

My situation won’t be the same.

We have three daughters, and I had all of them while I was in my twenties.

That means when I’m 89, my daughters will be 67, 66, and 63. Yikes.

I hope they’ll be in good health and that we can all toodle around and take road trips, eat triple decker double-dipped ice-cream cones and enjoy our grandchildren–and my great grand children.

But there are no guarantees we’ll all be in good health.

And being in your late sixties and caregiving can’t be a picnic.

Just ask all the boomers who are starting down this road now.

Ironically, my mother-in-law has a mother-in-law. Neither are spring chickens. My mother-in-law is 79, and her mother-in-law is 95.

My mother-in-law has begun to slow down and is dealing with an arthritic knee. Her father-in-law died this year  and they’ve been driving three hours a day to help care for his mom (my mother-in-law’s mom-in-law). They’re worried about how things will go in the future, what care she’ll need, how they’ll manage.

They face the same questions I faced–what do we do about mom?

Do we place her in a care facility? Does she live with family?

But they (my father-in-law has his  2 siblings) also have different questions:

Are any of us capable of caring for her–long-term? 

My father-in-law just retired. He was planning on golfing, driving to see all the kids and grandkids, and instead, he’s caregiving.

Guess you just can’t get away from it. The best you can do is look a bit ahead and make a semi-plan.

And as we age, caregiving is even more difficult–physically in particular.

Families have new questions to ask. New plans to make. Grab the moments of fun now and not wait for some “golden” day for that dream trip or to think you’ll sail into your senior years in the glow of a sensual–just-two-love-birds sunset.

My plan is to really, really spoil my grandchildren–afterall, they’ll be young enough to care for me. That, and live big/love hard–now.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

 available on Amazon and in most bookstores




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