Caregiving is a draining task. Running a car with a dry oil reservoir will burn up the engine. Trying to care for a loved one when you have run dry will result in caregiver burnout. Taking care of yourself and refilling those empty reserves of energy, love, patience, and compassion are a necessity not a luxury.
A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos
Available Now At:
A few weeks ago, the good people at Assisted Living Directory asked me to write an article for their website. I wrote a brief account of Mom and Dad’s journey from independent living through moving in with us and on to assisted living. The article featured one of my favorite pictures with this caption: (more…)
This is the last of a four-part saga. If you missed parts one and two and three, you might want to back up and start from the beginning. (Click here to read part 1 , here to read part 2 and here to read part 3.)
While Mom played tag with her eggs and apples, Dad was having his own little breakfast adventure. His use of utensils has become a little unorthodox over the past couple of years, especially since his right hand is a little numb from a stroke, but he gets the job done. He got through his eggs, sausage, and apples without incident, but his approach was unusual. After the first few bites of his meal, he pulled the saucer of pancakes closer to him and scooped up a good-sized bite of the ball of butter that was melting on top. Oh, yuck! I thought as I watched him pop the greasy mass into his mouth, but if he shared my feelings, he didn’t show it. He continued to eat without missing a beat. Then he started breaking off bite-sized pieces of pancake with his fingers, using them to push the slippery eggs onto his fork and to sop up the egg yolk from his plate. When the eggs, sausage, and apples were gone, he still had a pancake and a half left on his saucer. He pinched off another bite and stared at the plate with a kind of blank stare while he chewed. It was time for me to intervene. (more…)
This is the third of a four-part saga. If you missed parts one and two, you might want to back up and start from the beginning. (Click here to read part 1 and here to read part 2.)
The food came before she could get too bored or too disgruntled, but when it came, she was a little dismayed at all the choices laid out in front of her. To deal with her mealtime confusion, she has adopted a one-thing-at-a-time method of eating. I don’t know if the eggs looked the most appetizing or the least intimidating, but that’s where she started. While she worked to cut off a bite-sized piece with the edge of her fork, I took charge of her pancake-filled saucer. I spread the butter, cut the pancakes into manageable pieces, and doused the whole thing with syrup. (more…)
This is the second of a four-part saga. If you missed yesterday’s post, you might want to back up and start from the beginning. (Click here to read yesterday’s post.)
After the blood tests were finished, we got back into the car with a minimum of confusion and headed for the Village Inn. With the odds at 2 to 1, I didn’t want to go somewhere I had to order at a counter or go through a buffet line. I wanted to sit at a table, order our food, and have it brought to us. The Village Inn fit that bill, and it was Wednesday, so we got free pie, too. I pulled into a parking space close to the door and prayed for a nice, peaceful breakfast. (more…)
I was going through some old files last night looking for an outline I thought I had started on a book idea. I never found the outline, but I came across something I wrote on November 3, 2010 after taking Mom and Dad to the lab to have some bloodwork done and then out to breakfast. It was just six weeks before they moved from my home into an assisted living facility near my brother Jim. I was rapidly approaching burnout, and I wrote this saga to get rid of some of the tension from the outing. I posted it in my Facebook notes, but I didn’t start my blog until six or seven months later, so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s rather long, so I’ve broken it into four parts and will publish a part each day from now through Friday.
It’s 10:30 in the morning, and I’m exhausted. Today was test day for Mom and Dad. They have their six-month check-up with their PCP next week, and they had an appointment at 8:40 this morning at the lab. Since they had to go in fasting, I planned to take them to breakfast afterward. I knew it would be an adventure. I was right. (more…)
I recently came across an article in the New York Times originally posted on January 30 titled “For some Caregivers, the Trauma Lingers.” It was written by Judith Graham, and it’s about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in caregivers. Graham says there has been little research on the topic which, she thinks, means it has been overlooked or discounted. She goes on to list some of the typical symptoms of PTSD: flashbacks, feelings of numbness, anxiety, guilt, dread, depression, irritability, apathy, and tension among others. (more…)
No generation gap here.
I’m at that age that some poetically call the Autumn of Life, and I’m approaching Winter more quickly than I care to admit. But whatever you call it, it’s a season when end of life issues demand more attention than they did in earlier years. I lost both my parents in the last two years, and I spend more time looking at sympathy cards than congratulation cards lately. We’ve had two deaths in our church family recently, and while the situations were very different in most ways, there was a similarity that is worth a little attention – cross-generational caregivers. (more…)
Image via CrunchBase
I recently read an article on the CaringBridge website titled We’re Celebrating National Caregiver Month – and You. The article talked about what was special about caregivers and invited caregivers to leave comments about why they do what they do, what makes a good caregiver and advice to other caregivers. Always hoping that my experience can be of some help to others, I left a short comment, but I continued to think about National Caregiver Month. Special times devoted to special people are often celebrated by giving gifts or doing something special for the honoree, and I thought about some of the special things people did for me while I was a caregiver. There were lots, but one day in particular stood out in my mind. (more…)