One Adult Daughter’s 12 Steps to Keep Her Aging Mother Safe and Happy
I’ve been involved with the twelve step program for over 10 years.
Can’t always attend the 12-step support meetings since mom is 100 years old and can’t be left alone.
There’s a hole in my life.
This support group gives me hope that my life doesn’t have to always be in crisis and it’s up to me to change.
When you attend a step to recovery meeting you walk out feeling strong.
Accept that I have no power over my aging parent I’m caring for and her declining health – my life will become unmanageable at times.
Come to believe that God is much greater than I am and will restore me to good health and sanity to continue caring for my older parent.
Make simple decisions, turn to God and His will so that I can make time and have energy for the important people in my life, the older population.
I’ll search my heart and know that I’m caring for mom for the right reason.
I’ve admitted to God, to myself and to another family caregiver my feelings of how my words and actions affect the care I give my elderly mother.
I’m ready for God to equip me with the strength that only He provides to make my aged parent’s last days, a life of joy.
Humbly go before God and ask Him to remove anger and guilt that comes with caregiving and replace it with love and humor.
Put together a list that I need to remember isn’t actually my parent’s fault but the disease that’s changed their behavior and emotions.
Apologize to my aging mother for anything I’ve done in the past that hurt her.
Every morning take a personal look at my own life and know that I’m not alone, there are other in-home personal care family caregivers that need me and I need them.
Talk to God thru prayer and meditating to know that I’m doing the best I can humanly do at this time.
Knowing the power that I have through God, I can’t keep it to myself but share it with other family caregivers to give them hope.
God will equip us with the tools and the people we need in our life to finish the course.
We’ve set out with an important job to keep our aging mother or father safe and happy in their twilight years.
The steps that take you from darkness to light.
I’ve decided my life is important also and although I can’t always attend a meeting I can go online and find a 12-step group that fits my needs.
It makes my mind a little healthier.
Now most 12-step programs refer to the ‘God of our understanding’ so anyone can come and not feel threatened or offended.
I myself like to mention God because I believe in God.
In no way am I telling everyone they have to believe in God.
You make that determination for yourself.
The 12 Step Program is a lifelong process.
I didn’t have a hard time admitting my life was unmanageable, many do.
Oh I ‘KNEW’ my life was out of control from the start.
No one had to tell me the 2nd time.
That’s been many years ago and now that I’m a fulltime caregiver for my mother I still have similar feelings.
The 12-step program reminds me I’ll never be completely healed from the stinkin thinkin that plagued my mind.
We all have character defects and I for one sure do.
I’m impatient, feel anger at times, I criticize and I really fight negativity.
There are days when I think I live on an island and mom and I are all alone.
I’m not strong enough to work thru my issues alone so The Twelve Steps remind me every day what needs to be worked on in my life.
Maybe this group can help you to look at your life a little closer.
Geeze I need God to help me thru this journey of family caregiver.
When I realized my life was out of control I was happy to learn how to live the 12 steps.
The twelve steps are for everyone:
- the twelve steps for Christians
- the twelve steps for caregivers
- the twelve steps for addicts
- the twelve steps for alcoholics
- the twelve steps for families of alcoholics
- the twelve steps for al-anon
- the twelve steps for depression
My emotions are so powerful.
Years ago, I personally walked in to a room not knowing at all what it was.
Needed help with a person who drank alcohol, which I didn’t grow up around alcohol and then at the same time going crazy dealing with my new life of being mom’s primary caregiver.
It was recommended that I go to this meeting by my counselor at church.
When I walked in the door it seemed to be all old people Lol.
The group came to be my family away from family. However, that particular group grew smaller and smaller because of the location and it finally closed.
Wasn’t going to give up what I had found so I looked for another group and found one that was even closer to my home.
It was a BIG group and it was a little scary.
Couldn’t walk out once I’m there so I sat there in silence listening to everyone.
That’s been over 11 years now and I can’t live without them.
The steps to recovery teach people to laugh again.
To have hope.
For the last few years I’ve not been able to leave mom alone and I can tell the difference in my life.
The pain and stress of being a family caregiver is very challenging.
My mind seems so challenged today that I forget to get my list of phone numbers for the group members and call someone.
My health, mental, behavior, thinking and feelings are so effected when I don’t show up to a meeting.
I thought the first day I walked in the room that I would get better.
That my life would change quickly and I wouldn’t have to go but for a short time.
You miss a recovery meeting and I’m telling you there’s a void in your life.
Remember one night on a snowing evening I showed up even though we were having a terrible snow storm.
It was crazy but I was in bad shape.
There were several cars in the parking lot and I saw one person get out and walk to another car and the next thing I knew they left.
Of course, no one knew who I was YET because I sat quietly.
Sitting in my car crying.
Needed someone badly.
Realized right then and there that we don’t just show up for ourselves but we show up for others.
We need each other.
Now that night was a bad night and they decided to cancel because of the weather.
I still struggle because I cannot attend the meetings in person.
Being around people who have similar feelings is the best medicine of all.
Our situations may not be the same but our feelings are very much alike.
You read and then follow the steps you’ll see sanity come back in to your life.
It’s not an event but a process and I’m about the slowest one there.
The little turtle.
It takes time.
You don’t get better overnight.
Did you get sick overnight?
It is a process.
The support group has taught me to listen to others.
Those in the room share their experiences of what works and what doesn’t work for them.
I can take what I hear in those rooms that I resonate with and put what I hear into action.
If anyone who needs help between a meeting needs to pick up the phone and call someone on the list until someone is available to talk.
There’s no pressure, no cliques… just love and a listening ear.
The 12-step program is a rock upon which we can stand.
The power of community is important.
Join a group of other likeminded people who can understand your current life situation.
Having support helps bolster long-term changes you’re facing and can provide guidance in the times of struggle.
Boiled down to this as “You alone can do it, but you can’t do it alone.”
Family caregivers are sometimes looked at as a superhero for their family.
But everyone including family caregivers needs someone to lean on and to have some outside tools.
And it’s OK.
“My name is Donna G Harris, and I’m a proud family caregiver.”
When Pat Samples, Diane and Marvin Larsen first published Self-Care for Caregivers: A Twelve Step Approach in 1991, caregiving was not registered on my personal radar screen.
I viewed the 12-step programs as the rock.
People who have an addiction to alcohol and their family members all suffer.
From alcoholism to overeating–we’re all working day by day to restore order and sanity to our lives.
At first, I didn’t see how the 12 steps could apply to caregiving, and certainly not to me.
Or so I thought.
That was a BIG mistake.
After reading Step 1 in Pat Samples book, it was clear there was far more to learn from her book than I had considered:
“We admitted we were powerless over the people we are taking care of –that our lives had become unmanageable.”
How long had I been trying to maintain control over what I was dealing with caregiving circumstances that were beyond my control?
“Maybe I was just plain mad that I was stuck with all this, and yet felt guilty about feeling that way.”
If you don’t see yourself somewhere in here, chances are you haven’t hit the challenging spots of caregiving yet.
Being human our behaviors can become repetitive.
We do them over and over and remain angry, stressed and lost for answers.
We are creatures of habit.
In the end, the 12-Steps are more than just a way to curb the situation that’s become chaotic.
Twelve steps give us the importance of accepting our situation for what it is.
Come join my FB group ‘Just Takin Care of My Momma’ and get the support you need.
We have permission to ask for help.
They give us principle and show us how to treat others and our self.
The twelve-step program gives us the tools to start living a full life with meaning amidst all the caregiving issues.
A 12-step program is for anyone and everyone.