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A Tale of Two Sisters and One Mother

A Tale of Two Sisters and One Mother

This is not my story, but nonetheless true. It was shared with me not by one sister or the
other, but a compilation of the same story told to me over the years by many siblings and
extended family. I’ve heard it enough to understand the magnitude, how it potentially and
unfairly changes relationship dynamics. as well as adds unnecessary stress to a caregiving
experience. All that said, providing a mitigating solution within Caregiven was a necessity. But first, the story…

Robin and Laurel’s mother had reached an advanced age and was beginning to need
additional help and companionship. Robin, the younger daughter lived across the country, a
professor of business at a prestigious university. Her slightly older sister, Laurel, had an
equally successful career in healthcare and lived in the same town as her mother.

It seemed obvious that because of proximity and healthcare background, Laurel was the
logical choice to be the primary point of contact. She increased visits with their mother and
attended medical appointments. Over time, with agreement around it being the “right” thing, Laurel took on the responsibility of paying bills and organizing care.

Laurel was there day in and day out. Robin was equally as committed to her mother’s care,
though her role was primarily as a sounding board and financial contributor, so the daughters ensured their mother received the very best of care. Robin flew into town as her schedule permitted and during those visits, Laurel stepped aside so her sister and mother could have meaningful time together.

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On one of her Christmas visits, Robin started playing the songs from her mother’s younger
days… Rosemary Clooney. Bing Crosby, Doris Day, and Frank Sinatra. Her mother, enjoying
the music so much, got up and danced around the room. When Laurel came in, as Robin
shared with me, she will never forget the look on her sister’s face.

Laurel was devastated in that moment, not out of jealousy, but because as a caregiver she
could not have a light-hearted experience with her mother. Caregivers often administer
unwanted medications and are held responsible for having to sleep in a strange bed that's
not in their home. Laurel had more than enough time with her mother but often felt the
loving resentment for having to step into a different role than daughter, because of the
necessities of care around aging.

There seems to always be one caregiver who takes off their role of daughter or son and puts on the primary caregiver role. Those of us who are not the primary and maintain a child’s role may think that we do a great job of being a sounding board, a cheerleader, or financial contributor. Our efforts of appreciation are vital, so are the opportunities to have meaningful and memorable time as a daughter with her mother instead of a caregiver. The shifted roles make this a challenge, if not in some situations, an impossibility. Recognize an opportunity to include the Laurels in our lives for memorable moments we have with our mothers and other care recipients.

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Record and share the video of mom dancing as Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen sing
“Sisters”. Post an update with a childhood picture to remember a happy time when you were just kids. Make a video of baking the secret family recipe and share it with all those involved in caregiving for your loved one.

After years trying to improve the caregiver experience for everyone, I see this as one of the
greatest acts of love and appreciation that can be shown to the Laurels in our lives. The
recognition that while she may be viewed differently now as the primary caregiver, she still
views herself as her mother’s daughter. Because of acts of service, Robins get to have the
same meaningful moments as they were made possible day in and day out by another.

Nothing can replace those moments in dance, song, or savoring a treat that takes us back to
childhood. But, if you cannot have them yourself, aren’t you grateful that they are still
happening for your mom, or the person you care for? Like everything about caregiving, it is

Bittersweetness can turn to resentment, but the resentment goes both ways. While Laurel
may have had hard feelings she wasn’t the daughter getting emotionally closer to their
mother during her final years, Robin struggled with not being the daughter who was
physically available. Another example, the person who is selected as executor of an estate is often perceived by others as having all the power, while in fact they are burdened with
balancing responsibilities among multiple roles.

Countering any resentment, primarily for the purpose of sharing meaningful and memorable
moments with everyone invested in the care of another, we created the Your Care Feed
feature within Caregiven. Private and secure, Your Care Feed is a single point of
communication which facilitates social and emotional connection with members of the Care
Circle. It can be used to convey health updates, requests for help, as well as sharing
meaningful and memorable moments that arise along every care journey.

Caregiven leverages the best attributes of technology to help humans be more human, and to bring families closer together, knowing that this is one of the best ways we can ease some of the unnecessary friction and misunderstanding around challenges of caregiving.
We believe caregiving is so much more than medical appointments and care coordination;
rather, collecting family stories and capturing memorable moments. It is a period in our lives, particularly the life of a person we care for, where we should come together in recognition of one another rather than being torn apart by resentment.

I hope these words will inspire your story of caregiving.