Our Mother's Keeper: The Upside of Caregiving - HECMWorld.com Skip to content

Our Mother’s Keeper: The Upside of Caregiving


Part 2: The Upside of Caregiving

Nobody wants to think about losing his or her mind — or to see this happening to a parent, other loved one, or a reverse mortgage client. Yet dementia is on the rise, along with the burgeoning elder population. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia; the disease increased a staggering 71 percent between 2000 and 2013. In 2015, more than five million Americans were dealing with various stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

reverse mortgage newsClearly, mental decline calls for assistance, either in the form of assisted living, or, as most elders prefer, remaining at home with in-home help, commonly referred to as a caregiver. And dementia is just one of a panoply of age-related conditions that may necessitate caregiving. Others include declining mobility am dexterity that may mean a need for help with personal care such as bathing, shaving, or dressing; reduced ability to perform daily living tasks such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, and laundry; and vision or hearing loss that can make living alone at an advanced age dangerous, for both the senior and for those with whom they interact.

Yet caregiving poses its own set of potential problems. Unless a senior or their family opts to hire a caregiver privately, or goes through a home care service (which screens home health professionals and matches them with a client’s needs, assuming responsibility both for paying the employee, and replacing him or her in the event it is not a good fit), this duty usually falls to a family member. Typically, that’s an already stretched daughter or daughter-in-law — who is not only unprepared for the role, but may be dealing with her own health issues.

Changing Our Perspective

Last month we explored some of the challenges facing family caregivers, not just at holiday time but as a general circumstance, and suggested steps reverse mortgage professionals can share with clients, prospects and a senior’s family to create more ease. We’ve also taken a look at some of the visionary technologies that are providing a respite for caregivers. But we haven’t explored the sunny side of caregiving — until now.

Is there really an upside to caregiving? Sixty-something Doreen Cox embraces that perspective. She began keeping a journal when she became her mother’s caregiver, and was encouraged by relatives to publish it after her mother’s transition. Adventures in Mother-Sitting rings with the humor and deep compassion that having lived through this experience engenders, much as Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast’s depiction of her parents’ decline and deaths, illumines these difficult subjects with both beauty and poignancy.

Cox describes what it was like being called “Mommy” by the woman who raised her, and how, during her three years of full-time Mother-sitting, she learned to accept and revel in “my messy, human responses. I say, ‘revel’ because I had spent a lot of years trying to rise above those messy kinds of responses to calamitous situations. Revel does not mean that I take delight in being angry or frustrated or furious or disdainful. Revel means that I take delight in just being a regular human being who is doing the best that she can in any given situation.”

Cox journeyed through an emotional roller coaster of grief intermingled with surprising instances of connection, not only with her childlike mother, but also with her innermost self. She writes, “There were two things dementia could not destroy: my mother’s sweet spirit and her in-the-moment joy.”

This is the upside to caregiving, demystified by a daughter who took the role to a level beyond simply loving and caring for her mother during her end-time. To journey deeply into one’s own psyche and emerge wiser and more compassionate is perhaps the greatest gift a caregiver can bestow on those they serve — and a potent example for us all.

Looking for more reverse mortgage news, commentary and technology? Visit ReverseFocus.com today.


Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at: info@hecmworld.com.

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