Karen from Montana

My 87-year old mother lives with me and while she has done really well staying healthy up until this year in the last 8 months, she has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and has been hospitalized twice this year for a total of 15 days and had an additional 4 visits to the emergency room. She and my Dad moved to Montana to live with me from the Washington DC area in 2010. My Dad had MS and COPD and he died in our home in 2012. Right now it's a never ending cycle of taking her blood pressure, monitoring medication, scheduling and transporting to doctors, and ensuring her day-to-day needs are met.

In addition, I have a 28-year old daughter with Down syndrome and I am her guardian and primary caretaker. She lives in a condo a third of a mile from my home, able to live semi-independently with a lot of supports. I do have someone who is with her 8 hours a week. This fall she had major surgery, requiring 14 days in the hospital and 2 months of intensive recovery time.

It's a lot to keep two households going at once and running back and forth is wearing me out! For the most part my daughter (Alyssa) does really well - holds down a part-time job, which she rides her bike to, works out at our local YMCA, volunteers with me at our local foodbank, and participates in skiing, equestrian, bowling and other activities through Special Olympics or our local YMCA. All of that requires my facilitation and transportation, which is great - unless my Mom is in crisis at the same time!

I am blessed to be able to have these women in my life and I am grateful to be able to care for them. It is hard, lonely work though at times.

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