Dear Annie: I feel torn and guilty that I'm not doing enough to take care of my mom. My stepdad and I are the only ones taking care of my mom, who needs daily assistance. I thank the Lord for my stepdad every day. I have a sister and brother, but they don't visit often. I've spent 4 1/2 days every other week with my mom and stepdad since I retired. I also have a part-time job. Today when I left, Mom asked when I'll be back. I told her I'll be there again in two weeks. She said that is too long. How do I handle my guilt that I'm not doing enough? — Daughter
Dear Daughter: The best way to handle your guilt is to keep a healthy perspective, knowing that you are doing your best — and your best sounds pretty darn good to me. As a caretaker, your own self-care is extremely important. For resources to this end, visit the Family Caregiver Alliance website at https://www.caregiver.org or call 800-445-8106.
Secondly, if you haven't asked your brother and sister to pitch in more by at least visiting on a semi-regular basis, now is the time. Perhaps they've gotten used to your taking care of everything and aren't aware of how extreme the situation has gotten. Tell them that Mom is lonely and would love some company. Also, some insurance plans (including some Medicare and Medicaid plans) cover hospice care, so that's an option worth exploring.
Please know that you are doing a great job, and your mom raised a truly compassionate soul.
Dear Annie: My parents always told me that if someone helps you out, you help that person in return. Some people in my family think you should help everyone and not expect anything in return. For example, sometimes my brother "Carson" works on our half brother's car and doesn't charge him anything. I feel that's very charitable. Carson just tells him that if he helps him out sometime, he'll call it even. But if our half brother won't help do anything, is that right? I feel those types of people are using people. What are your thoughts? — D.D.
Dear D.D.: Lending a helping hand to someone in need is always a good thing, unless the person you are helping begins to get your hands dirty. What I mean by that is that if you feel you are being taken advantage of, then you should stop, but if you don't mind helping, then you should continue. It sounds as if Carson doesn't mind helping out your half brother and hopes the favor will be returned one day but also isn't too concerned about ensuring that it's paid back. That's a healthy attitude. I've found that what goes around truly does come around, though often not in the form we're expecting.
"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." — Mother Teresa
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