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Decline at a Distance: Mom Needs Me

Every time my phone rings, I cringe. Has something happened to mom? Did she press her button for the emergency service again? Will I get news that she is in the hospital again or worse?

Tonight my mom’s neighbor called. She and my mother share a driveway and it hasn’t always been a good relationship. I was surprised when I saw who was calling. “Hello,” I answered tentatively.

I was hoping for ‘not so bad’ news. I cannot expect good news at this point, so I hope for the ‘not so bad’ kind. The neighbor was totally honest with me. She started by saying, “Someone needs to tell you what is really going on and I guess that is me.” She filled me in on what was really going on with my mom and how fragile she has become: she can’t bend over to pick things up off the floor, can’t clean the cat litter box anymore. There are days that she doesn’t get out of bed. My mom has become reliant on her and her husband to do basic things like give the cats water and food and take out the trash and recycling, the neighbor explained.

The neighbor wanted to alert me before I came home and saw my mother’s continued decline. Her instructions were to spend the weekend crying and then when I see my mom next week I could be the strong supportive daughter my mom needs now more than ever.

This neighbor and her husband have no duty to care for my mother. They are not relatives, nor even what I would call friends. They are just two kind-hearted people who live next door to my mother. I am eternally grateful to them for the care they are giving her while I’m 450 miles away. I’m equally grateful that this woman had the guts to pick up the phone and give me the real story on what is going on. I cannot thank her enough for being honest with me, when no one else is being honest with me. That is a priceless gift that they have given me.

If you’re a caregiver at a distance or nearby, CarePartner can help you manage your loved one’s care, and help make sure you care for yourself. Email us at, or call us at 1-800-401-9357 for a free consultation.

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