Cares for her mother
Age at interview: 54
Age at start of caregiving: 43
Joanne (54 years) is widowed and has two grown children. She is the primary caregiver for her mother; they have lived together for 10 years. Joanne works part-time as a social worker. Her mother has multiple chronic health problems. Joanne and her husband became actively involved in the care for her mother after her father died. They invited her to come and live with them, as they were worried about her living in her own apartment. Shortly after, Joanne’s husband died unexpectedly. Her mother needs increasingly more assistance but is able to stay alone when Joanne goes to work.
After Joanne’s father passed away 10 years ago, her mother came to live with her and her husband. This was the best solution at that time as they were worried that her mother would be unable to return to her own apartment without assistance. Joanne’s husband died unexpectedly, shortly after her mother had moved in. As they were both widowed they initially supported each other, getting to know each other better. This resulted in the healing of past wounds. The challenging part was (and is) to deal with her mother’s anxious and insecure personality.
Joanne’s mother’s condition has deteriorated in the last 9 years due to many health problems and the usual ageing process. She has changed from being a relatively independent person into someone who needs a great deal of personal care. She overestimates her own abilities and takes risks that sometimes lead to falls.
Joanne works four days a week and feels lucky to have a flexible workplace which enables her to hurry back home if she needs to check on her mum. She worries about the eventual possibility that her mum will need more intensive care and that she may not be able to go to work for a couple of days or longer.
Until now Joanne has not had any personal help at home. They were recently offered help with one shower per week for her mother from health and social services. Her mother does not think that they need this, as her daughter is caring for her; it will be a challenge for Joanne to discuss this with her mum and tell her that they do need this help. Joanne sometimes feels like unpaid hired help.
Joanne’s mother’s care-needs have increased, the situation is getting more and more difficult and Joanne’s stress is building. She took two months off work due to burn out in the last year. She would really like to go for a holiday for one week this year and hopes that one of her brothers will provide support so that she can go. Her sister is a great help and listens to her concerns, but lives in another country. She tries to come overseas twice a year to help.
- Travelling, holidays and respite – Joanne (A)For Joanne, sending her mother to a respite program isn’t an option; her mother would not be able to cope.
- Home care and live-in caregivers – Joanne (A)Joanne’s mother has yet to receive any support; they are still on a waiting list.
- Caring for yourself – Joanne (A)Joanne acknowledges that she doesn’t prioritize her own needs enough. She will start to plan more time for herself.
- Impact on professional life and career – Joanne (A)Joanne needs flexible hours to check-in on her mother, which affects her career choices.
- Personal growth and transformation – Joanne (A)Joanne pushed herself and found her limits. She has learned to take better care of herself.
- Providing support – Joanne (A)While each task is reasonable on its own, it’s the accumulation of many small tasks that Joanne finds challenging.
- Advice for other caregivers – Joanne (A)Joanne compares caregiving to a locomotive that is pulling a train. You need fuel; otherwise the train stops.
- Advice for friends and family – Joanne (A)