Mum spent her life look­ing af­ter us, so I wish my sib­lings would visit her more

Women's Weekly (Malaysia) - - Women Share -

Sally*, 45, fell into the role of be­ing her mother’s pri­mary care­giver af­ter the lat­ter suf­fered a mi­nor stroke six years ago.

“When my mum had her stroke, it was scary. We didn’t know if she would re­cover, and were con­cerned with the cost of hir­ing a helper and en­trust­ing my mum to a stranger. Mum was not for the idea at all, and was emo­tion­ally shaken by the whole episode as she was once a very in­de­pen­dent and strong lady who didn’t like re­ly­ing on any­one,” she says.

Sally has four other sib­lings, three of whom are mar­ried with kids. She and her sis­ter, who are both sin­gle, live with their mother. Be­cause Sally was in the midst of her stud­ies and in a vo­ca­tion that al­lowed her to work from home most days, un­like her sib­lings, she de­cided to take up the re­spon­si­bil­ity of car­ing for her mother. To­day, she works part-time while help­ing to care for her mother at home, and brings her for quar­terly doctor’s vis­its.

Sally strug­gles to be fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent as a care­giver, and wor­ries about her lack of sav­ings. “Mum is 79, and has trou­ble walk­ing and stand­ing now. I found it hard to do full-time work be­cause I was al­ways wor­ried about leav­ing her at home for long stretches of time. By the time mum was bet­ter enough for me to work full-time, I was al­ready la­belled as not be­ing rel­e­vant to the job mar­ket, as I was com­pet­ing with younger job seek­ers.

“I am thank­ful that Mum has a pension sav­ings. That has helped take a load off her med­i­cal bills, but I still have many years of pay­ments ahead. At 45, I have no sav­ings or EPF to count on for my own re­tire­ment.”

Sally is grate­ful her sib­lings give her mum some al­lowance, though Sally still bears the cost for doctor’s bills, med­i­ca­tion and house­hold ex­penses.

“Due to my fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, Mum looks to my sis­ters for ma­te­rial needs, and they take Mum out shop­ping. At times, she makes it seem that this is more im­por­tant than me be­ing home with her. That hurts my pride some­times, but I am thank­ful they can pro­vide some­thing I can’t.

“I’d like to think Mum and I are close and have a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship, but I am also the one who bears the most grouses. She turns to me first when she needs to be chauf­feured some­where, but looks to my sib­lings when she needs money.”

Sally says she would ap­pre­ci­ate her sib­lings vis­it­ing their mum more of­ten, and spend­ing more time with her. “They some­times visit her weekly, but other times, less of­ten. Mum spent her life look­ing af­ter us, so I wish they could do more in this re­gard. Mum al­ways shows a pos­i­tive side to my sib­lings but when they leave, I get to see the other side.

“Still, I have been able to stand my ground and push some du­ties to my sib­lings so I can go out to work more. I think this has been re­ally help­ful for me so far, and I am con­tented.”

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