Heather’s day started at 6:00 am, when she got up to shower, get dressed, and make breakfast for her two sons, both in elementary school. She also made breakfast and put on a pot of coffee for her 82-year-old mother, who lived in the in-law apartment downstairs. By 7:00 am, everyone in the house was up, the boys were eating egg sandwiches and getting their lunches and backpacks ready, and Heather was checking with her mother to make sure she had taken her morning medications and was feeling okay.

By 7:30 am, Heather was out the door with the boys in tow. She dropped them off at the bus stop and arrived at her job as a medical coder promptly at 8:00 am. During her noon break, she spent 20 minutes on the phone trying to straighten out a snafu with the pharmacy regarding one of her mother’s medications, and had just a few minutes to wolf down a sandwich at her desk. The rest of the day was crazy busy, as it usually was where she worked because they were down several staff.

At 5:00 pm, Heather left work. On her way home, she made a quick stop at the pharmacy to pick up her mother’s medication, got gas for the car, and ran into the grocery store to buy a rotisserie chicken for dinner. The boys had sports after school, and they were taking the late bus home, so they got back around the same time she did.

And of course, Heather’s ‘night job’ started when she got home: making dinner, helping the kids with their homework, talking with her mother about upcoming medical appointments, doing dishes and laundry, and later, helping her mother undress and get ready for bed. By 9:30 pm, everyone was asleep and Heather was exhausted. She was ready to go to bed herself when she heard her mother call her from the downstairs apartment. Heather raced down the stairs.

“Heather, I don’t feel so good,” her mother said. “I’m so dizzy. I got up for a glass of water and almost passed out. I feel sick to my stomach.”

Heather took one look at her mother’s pale face and trembling hands. “We better call the doctor’s office night number. It might be a side effect of that new medication you’re on.”

It wouldn’t be the first time her mother would end up at the emergency department in the middle of the night, and it wouldn’t be the last. Like many caregivers, Heather struggled daily with trying to balance her caregiving responsibilities with her job and with parenting her 2 boys. One out of five Americans will be a caregiver at some point in their lives, and during November, National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize these unsung heroes!

If you connect with Heather’s story, we can help. Working with a professional care manager to help with aging challenges will free up your time to focus on your relationship with your aging loved one. Let’s talk about how we can work with you to lighten your load.