Taking Care of His Mother in Assisted Living

An Interview with Mike

In this touching interview, we sit down with Mike from Minnesota, who has taken on the important and often challenging role of caregiver for his mother. As someone who has retired and enjoys the freedom of exploring the beautiful bicycle trails of Minnesota, Mike has had to balance his leisure activities with the responsibilities of caregiving. From managing medical events to assisting with everyday tasks, Mike opens up about the realities of caregiving, the support he has found in resources like Trualta, and the importance of self-care in this journey. Join us as we delve into Mike’s caregiving experience, the lessons he has learned, and the advice he has for others who may find themselves in a similar situation.

Tell us about yourself

I live in Central Minnesota and I retired about five years ago. I do a bit of day trading and love to go out on my bicycle because Minnesota has great bicycle trails. And I’ve been catching up on reading good books.

What is your family dynamic?

My brother and I oversee care for my mother.

What led up to your caregiving?

Three or four years ago my mother was getting to the point where she couldn’t live independently anymore. There were just too many problems. After a medical event we realized she needed to be somewhere where she could be monitored. So we started looking at various assisted living facilities in the Minnesota area. We looked at about a dozen assisted living facilities and my mother chose one that happened to be in a town near me and one hour from my brother.

Tell us about your caregiving experience.

I actually have it pretty good compared to a lot of other caregivers. I’ve read a lot of stories about a lot of difficult situations, but mine is a little easier. I visit my mom several times a week. I buy her groceries and help her when she has technical issues with her T.V.  and we chat. 

The assisted living has really helped a lot. My mother fell a couple months ago and pressed her alert button and they were right there with the tools to help her up. They assessed her right away, put her in a chair, and called me up. 

How has Trualta helped?

I found Trualta through a local support group in Minnesota. It came recommended. I have really enjoyed the videos with Teepa Snow. She’s really good and her videos are enlightening.

What was the biggest surprise to you as a caregiver?

I was a little surprised about how much I needed to learn about caregiving. It’s not just your mom anymore. It’s your mom and she has dementia. So I was surprised about how much education I needed. And I was surprised about how much is out there.

What advice would you give others?

Get that education. Get those resources. Watch those videos. Take online courses. Read books. Understand your loved one and their condition. And approach them from that point of view. 

In other words, we all have histories with our loved ones. And, you kind of have expectations. Now, they’re changing. And you need to understand they’re changing and acknowledge it, and don’t be upset by it. You may have to grieve or something.

Best tips?

Do you consider yourself a caregiver?

I do, but not much. I mean, I am because I deliver the groceries and talk, and help her with doctor visits and all that. So I technically fit the role, but it’s part of being a son. But I’ve found the best way to approach internet searches is by using the word “caregiver.”

What has been helping you?

Getting away to the countryside on my bike is nice. In the winter I snowshoe. It’s a completely different environment for me when I am outside. 

I guess center yourself or calm yourself, deal with the emotions that can come up sometimes. I know there can be a lot of tense situations and sometimes you don’t want to sit with what runs around inside you all the time. Deal with it right away.

What do you miss?

I miss being able to go out with her as much since she is homebound now. So I miss going outside or going to stores and shopping with her.

Self-Care and Community

Mike’s experiences and insights as a caregiver for his mother mirror those of countless others who have found themselves in a similar position. Just like Mike, many caregivers are surprised by the amount they have to learn and adapt to the changing needs of their loved ones. The importance of education, resources, and self-care that Mike highlights is applicable to all caregivers, regardless of their unique situations. Just as Mike has found solace in the bicycle trails of Minnesota and the support of local groups and online resources like Trualta, other caregivers can also find strength in their communities, both online and offline, and in the various resources available to them. Mike’s story serves as a reminder that while caregiving can be challenging, there is support available, and taking the time to understand and care for oneself is just as important as caring for a loved one.