When her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, this medical student knew what she had to do.
She dropped out of school for a year to be with her mom and help her navigate the procedures, helpers, hospice workers, medications, and so many other things that suddenly occupied her mother's life, 24/7.
"I decided to take a year off from medical school and spend the time with her, and I just feel like I want to grasp at every moment I can, really. A typical day of caring for my mom usually includes preparing meals, running errands, grocery shopping, and picking up prescriptions. I work a lot behind the scenes organizing the nursing, a nursing assistant to come and help us." — Hannah Roberts
It's not something that everybody can do.
It's grueling, wonderful, painful, life-affirming, terrifying, rewarding, and many more things, all wrapped up into one big ball of ... life.
I really hope when my mother reaches the end of her life, I have a chance (and the ability) to be there for her in the same manner.
Watching a relative go through something like this is probably not in anybody's top 10 list of things they really want to do with their lives, but helping them cope is certainly in the realm of being a loving human being.
Getting them through it with grace and dignity — I cannot think of a greater gift to give.
Some facts, all from National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP:
- Nearly 1/4 of all of America's caregivers are Millennials, between the ages of 18—34, and they're equally likely to be male or female.
- The value — that is, if it were paid — of caregiving by family members was approximately $470 billion per year in 2013.
- 40 million family caregivers helped another adult or loved one carry out daily activities
- More than half (55%) of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the amount of care their family member needs.
Caregivers are the unsung heroes of modern life, and sometimes we forget that they're also grieving and suffering as they help their loved ones.
They need our support in any way we can offer it.