You are taking care of your elderly parents and at the same time caring for your own family. How do you find time for yourself?

I found myself every Saturday going to my parents’ home to go through their cupboards and refrigerator to determine what I needed to buy for them at the grocery store. They had caregivers to cook for them but I always tried to cook at least one meal before I left them for the day. This meant that I was not at my home taking care of the laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, etc. I decided this was okay. It was more important to spend time with my parents. I hired a cleaning service for my house and my husband was okay with arranging for things that needed to be done in our home.

Luckily my sons are adults and able to take care of themselves. They have families and sometimes I would think that I had not made enough time for them and my grandchildren. I decided it was okay. They understood how important it was for my parents to be taken care of. After all, they saw how over the years their grandparents had made me, my siblings, and their grandchildren a priority. It was their turn to be a priority.

I had a full time job and travel was part of my job. How could I make time for my parents? I had to make time for them. How could I not after all the sacrifices they had made for me. One of the hardest things to face when dealing with elderly parents is that there is a point when they are no longer able to care for themselves or make decisions for themselves.
Sometimes I would go to their home after work. They were so happy to see me when I made this visits. I was fortunate that I worked for an organization that was sensitive to my situation and allowed me to have time off when I needed it.
Actually working provided solace for me. I was able to concentrate on my work, something I had control of, for most of the day, even though I kept in touch with my parents’ caregivers by phone during the day, every day. I decided it was okay to keep working. It helped me keep my sanity. No way could I take care of my parents 24/7. It would not be a healthful situation for me or for them.

I choose Sunday as a day for me. I decided this was okay. I needed time to recharge. It was emotionally draining to see my parents’ health deteriorating. My husband was very supportive and allowed me to have my space. It was imperative to have a clear head in order to make all the hard decisions that lay ahead for me.

In order for me to give my parents the care they needed, it was important to take care of myself. It was important for me to have my yearly check-up, mammogram and gynecological appointments. . My parents would want me to take care of myself.
It was important to have some balance in my life. I knew this intellectually, now I just had to buy into it emotionally. It was important for me to have some fun. Whether it was a barbeque with friends, a walk in the park, reading a good book, whatever made me happy. It was easy to be sad, but hard to be happy. I decided it was okay to have a little joy in my life.

It was difficult to not let emotions get the best of me. I decided it was okay to cry. The sadness of losing my father to dementia and my mother to a debilitating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was sometimes overwhelming. I would say to myself: take one day at a time, do the best I could with the information I had on hand, and treasure the time with my parents.

After my parents died I learned that:
• It was important to have the quality of time not the quantity of time for myself.
• I could treasure the time with my parents more by spending time away from them.
• I was better able to care for them if I took care of myself.
• The support of my husband and family was instrumental in helping me take care of my parents.
• I shouldn’t put too much pressure on myself to carry on life as I had before.
• Letting go emotionally sometimes enabled me to continue my tasks at home, at work and with my parents’ care.
• I didn’t have control over my father’s dementia or my mother’s ill health.

One of the things I wished I would have done while overseeing my parents’ care is to have taken the time to journal. I think that writing down the events that transpired during this stressful time could have been consoling to me then and now.

Could I have done some things differently? Of course, but we only can make decisions with the information we have at the time. None of us have crystal balls; therefore, we should not be hard on ourselves for our actions or decisions we make. I do not have any regrets. I made time for myself, my parents, my family, and my workplace.

Author's Bio: 

Annette Gonzalez is a lifelong Floridian and was raised in West Tampa, a Latin neighborhood in Tampa. As a child, she was nurtured in this environment and it affected her path toward her affection for her cultural roots and her affection for her family. West Tampa deeply influenced her desire to be a writer, speaker and storyteller.
Her closely knit Spanish family influenced her decision to attend a local college, The University of South Florida where she graduated in 1970 with a B.A. degree in sociology. Soon after graduation she married Terry DeLisle and they had two sons, Jared and Jacques.

Annette’s professional background includes positions as a social worker, real estate salesperson, business owner, education director at a PBS station, president of a chamber of commerce and director of business development at an educational association.
In February 2006, when Annette’s struggled with coping with the loss of her mother that she began to experience her need to fill the emptiness in her heart and began documenting her feelings. Five months later, her father passed away and she embarked on a serious introspective on her purpose in life. This is when she began to write and speak about her parents’ deaths and how it impacted her. What was revealed was that Annette provided others who had lost their parents comfort and direction through her workshops, writings and speaking.
Annette believes that we need to treasure our parents while they are alive and when they have passed. Her book, Orphan at 60, is her parent’s legacy to Annette’s children and grandchildren.

Visit Annette's blog,, that she created in memory of her mother.

Annette will be speaking on this topic at the Time for Me Retreat, w: