My mom, up until recently, lived alone. What I mean by “alone” is that she was, and still is, the only caregiver for my youngest brother, an adult in his forties with severe developmental disabilities. My brother needs help with every aspect of daily life. Unfortunately for both of us, she also lives very far from me. This put us in a very precarious situation, especially as travel became restricted and tickets were voided.
One question that has repeatedly come to mind (and that my mother has voiced often) is the question of what happens if she gets sick and needs to be completely isolated. Who would take care of my brother? And vice versa, what would happen if my brother got sick? He needs help in many aspects of life: He cannot prepare food, may need help to eat, go to the bathroom, take a shower, you get the picture. This question came to the forefront when her entire region was placed on lockdown. During lockdown, if my mother were to be isolated, no one else could come to her rescue.
In the last couple of weeks I have seen reports from parents who can’t see their children because they work in hospitals and are afraid to be carriers of this virus, or because they, themselves, are sick, and need to be isolated. I saw a neighbor’s post on social media, where she describes that she and her husband are both infected, and the children are basically fending for themselves. Good neighbors and local restaurants deliver food to the children so that they don’t go hungry.
My mother was lucky that a cousin decided to temporarily move in with her, and I am forever grateful to her for doing this. Her region is still on lockdown and it would have been tremendously difficult for her and for me. For many of us, it is not only the anxiety over the illness but also the anxiety over what happens if isolation is needed that keeps us awake at night.
It has always been my belief that when we live a situation like this for many of us the world only revolves around us and the four walls that enclose us. It is easy to try to protect what is “us” and “ours” and we tend to forget that it is precisely in times like these that we need to be the most generous, the most neighborly, the most caring, and the most mindful. These times call for us to reveal the BEST in us.
Thanks to my mother’s cousin, she is not alone, and she can rest assured that in the worst of situations, there will be someone beside her. If my mother needs to be isolated, my brother will have food on the table and will be able to get assistance for those activities of daily living that would be impossible without her.
Are there any other primary caregivers out there who are terrified of being in a similar situation? I would love to know what you are feeling at this time. What are your thoughts?