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  • Rick Whitlow

Caring For Elderly Loved Ones

Most of the credit should go to my youngest brother Bill, he is the one who has done most of the heavy lifting. Bill understands the medications, when they should be taken, and the doses. For more than a year he has made sure she makes it to appointments on time, he deals with the home healthcare nurses, the physical therapists, and is on a first name basis with the emergency room attendants at St. Joseph's Hospital- South- Baycare Health in Riverview, Florida. I play a supporting role, doing whatever he needs done. Sometimes that includes driving, or helping with the various healthcare equipment which our mother now needs. Sometimes my presence simply allows him to take a nap, or sleep in for an extra hour. It's a team effort.

My brother and I both feel very blessed to have this opportunity to spend time with our mother at this stage of her life. My perspective in many ways is very different than that of Bill's. There is a ten year difference in our ages. I remember the day he was born, and how my mother took care of him. I watch now as the roles have been reversed. It seems like only yesterday, I watched her pick up after him, help him get dressed, and make sure he was on time, and eating properly. Now he is doing those things and more for her. It is tough watching her not be able to do things for herself, even more so because she still thinks very clearly, and her independent streak is always present, along with her vanity, dignity, and self awareness. In short she hates the tubes, bags, and other necessities that have become a part of this very proud woman's life. Also difficult watching the person who taught me how to ride a bike, roller skate, drive a car, and rebound my misses in life, both those on and off the court, suddenly not be able to do basic things for herself.

So we look back at all the wonderful years we have had with her, and look forward to the time that remains. We are better people because we have shared space and time with her. Those of us who have been on the receiving end of her warm hugs, and greeting of "Hey sugar. How you doing?" will know of what I speak. Allow me to take some liberties with the lyrics of one of my favorite songs. "She was my eyes when I couldn't see. She lifted me up when I could reach. She saw the best there was in me. I am everything I am because she loves me."


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