Rivka is 63 years old. She has just retired, as has her husband. They are full of plans for the future and are looking forward to a new chapter in their lives.
But, life has a way of happening when we’re not looking. Rivka’s mother’s health has suddenly declined and Rivka, who loves her mother, has stepped up to take care of her.
Rivka’s mother is a strong-willed woman with ideas of her own about how she wishes to be cared for. She doesn’t want to enter an assisted-care facility, she doesn’t want to hire a foreign worker to care for her, and she doesn’t want to leave her home of many years and move closer to her daughter.
Rivka respects her mother’s right to decide her own fate and has decided to move, with her husband, into her mother’s apartment and to care for her there. The reality of caring for an elderly mother on a daily basis, coupled with dealing with both her own disappointment as well as her husband’s at their changed circumstances and postponed plans, plunges her into depression.
At this point, Rivka meets Malka, a volunteer in the Caregiver’s Center at Yad Sarah, a program intended to empower and support a family member who is the sole caretaker for a seriously ill, disabled, or aging family member. Malka’s role is to help Rivka meet the challenges she is facing every day.
Rivka arrives to their first meeting dressed in black, and shares with Malka her feelings of frustration and despair at having her life upended so suddenly. But, as she speaks, some of the emotional pain she has been living with seems to ease. The guilt she has felt for resenting the mother she loves for needing her so much isn’t quite so terrible when there is someone supportive to share it with.
Rivka continued to meet with Malka once a week within the framework of the Caregiver’s Center, giving her a safe place to vent her feelings as well as receive practical help to make her caretaker role easier. With Malka’s help, she was able to arrange for caretaking help through the National Insurance Institute, help that her mother was willing to accept and that gave Rivka some much-needed breathing room.
Malka was very gratified that her intervention made a positive change in Rivka’s life and was rewarded with these emotional words: “I feel you’re the only one in the world who cares about me.”