Being the caregiver with RA is a loaded statement. It is challenging, emotional, and beautiful all at the same time.
My mother turned 87 years old last week. I made the trip back to South Dakota to help her celebrate along with my siblings and their families. I knew she had slowed down and was mourning the loss of her dear friend. The friend she had “done life” with. Baseball games and out-of-town tournaments, graduations, weddings, births of grandchildren, estate sales, gardening and the loss of their husbands. And there was a lot in between that spanned over 50 years. When I arrived at my mother’s house, I wasn’t expecting her loss of appetite and her weakness. I could tell immediately life had changed. I knew this was a pivotal moment.
I haven’t slept well since. My brothers and I are looking at the reality she can no longer live independently without help. We are meeting with professionals tomorrow to asses her needs and how best to meet them. It is a stressful time to say the least.
Because I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), I have done my best to take care of my body during this critical time. My FRESH acronym has been very helpful. I’m eating healthy foods, the rest and relaxation have been challenging to achieve, I’ve made my pilates session, sleep has been another challenge, and I’ve purposed to stay hydrated. I’m doing the best I can. And I’m utilizing the FRESH acronym for mom, as well. I’m focused on her nutrition, emotional needs, getting her moving, restful sleep and keeping her hydrated. The FRESH lifestyle has become my default mode.
Being the caregiver with RA requires special considerations. It is a necessity to be serious about self-care. I can’t afford an arthritic flare and am pacing myself to try to avoid one.
In addition to FRESH living, I am thinking about the privilege it is to care for my mother. She took care of me for many years, now it is my turn to care for her. I am counting my blessings for my siblings, my husband, and the time I have to travel for this meeting tomorrow. One step at a time. I remind myself to focus on the next step only, because I get overwhelmed when I think beyond that.
Life continues on even though I have RA. But the fact I have RA requires the special considerations of adhering to my FRESH lifestyle, remembering what a privilege it is to care for my mother, and counting my blessings.
I would truly appreciate any tips you may have on the subject of being a caregiver with RA.
Photo by Jake Thacker at Unsplash