Sharing caregiver posts

Sharing caregiver posts

It was indeed a happy surprise to discover two posts from Accepting the Gift of Caregiving blogsite, specifically about needing respite and help, were referenced in a serious way on another caregiving blog, What to Do about Mama?.

I was humbled and honored seeing the recommendation suggesting others read my site. I loved knowing someone else had sensed the value of the two articles I had written exposing our own needs for support in a very friendly, hopefullly relatable, manner. Others could now become familiar with what might happen without warning in their life—we could encourage and reassure them together.

So many caring for others with all sorts of ailments, disabilities, chronic or acute illnesses or disorders, are so caught up in our own lives, that our own energy hardly allows time to expand our worlds to include new friends, new ideas, new stories, new strategies, that COULD HELP US THROUGH OUR CAREGIVER JOURNEY!

The Accepting the Gift of Caregiving site focuses primarily on spouse-caregiving for loved ones with Alzheimer’s—yet, we know many tasks and emotions overlap, regardless of who we are caring for. We realize, too, that there are many aspects to learn about each perspective of care. We suggest everyone take every opportunity to learn when you can about caregiving…listen, watch and read. You never know when or where it will be needed.

As caregivers, in the early stages, when we really are just learning the caregiver role, we don’t realize how valuable these stories could be. Let me assure you, caregiver stories are worth knowing/reading/hearing, — at the very least, know where to locate them when you need them. Keep a list.

When caregivers move into the middle and later stages of Alzheimer’s, we are so overwhelmed by life coming at us, with so much to learn all at one time, exhaustion sets in and few choose to read or research when we need to sleep!

Then when our caregiving is over, some feel relieved to take a break and get a breath before making decisions for the future.

But in the meantime, a lot of valuable, caregiver-written information is out there to help us. if we only have a few minutes, learn where to find it and glance through it for future referencing. Other caregivers are our best teachers. Keep a list.

So, take a few of those silent moments to poke around and read the stories of other caregivers, find books from meaningful perspectives, write down their location. Find blogs where you relate to the authors, where you can even participate. Learn what it means to be part of that special world of caregivers, where each one is doing the best they can.

Guest Authors have appeared periodically on this blog when I was able to give them and their stories time I felt they were due. Because of lack of time, both theirs and mine, I have not had as many as I would have liked. But the suggestion to readers to keep reading caregiver stories is valuable guidance from the heart.

It is important that we caregivers share our stories, our successes and failures, our good times and not so good times. It is equally as important to read caregiver stories…if you are short on time, read from the perspective you live…a spouse-caregiver, a parent caregiver, a sibling caregiver…each situation has its own unique aspects to learn. Offering helpful information has been the purpose of this blogsite from the start. I am grateful to those who have found my blogsite, who follow it, who have shared it, and found the contents useful in caring for their loved one.

When I was searching, I saw this post, (shown below) I wanted to share it. To let readers know that others share stories and that is how we support one another. I hope when you read these stories, you will think of someone who would benefit and you will share the links…not just mine, here, but any you see that could help another caregiver. I hope Accepting the Gift of Caregiving has helped you learn about caregiving for loved ones with memory loss.

My writing perspective is from a spouse-caregiver, and stories in What to Do about Mama? focus on caring for a parent. What we all have in common are the emotions we experience and the need for support from others. As you know, I say throughout my books and site, “Ask for help. No one knows if we do not ask.” Even the author of the blog below noted that important fact.

This is what I saw! Click image to go to read more about caregiving on Barbara’s site.

Thank you Barbara Matthews, author of book and blog, “What to Do about Mama?”.

Sharing Blog Posts (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone

Order locally from A Different Drummer Books, Burlington, ON
or Online locally near you,
or from Amazon…
ebooks, paperback or hardcover.

Caregiver support to the rescue!

Caregiver support to the rescue!

Caregiving takes a toll…

Following the post, Fatigue…in need of respite, I am happy to report I have received help and may have more soon.

LESSON for those of you ‘learning’ your way through your caregiving journey: ask for help! No one knows you need it if you do not ask.

It can be total chaos, yes, such a ‘downer’ when we are overwhelmed by caregiver tasks…after one year or ten years, it makes no difference. At times I truly wonder if despondency is around the corner. What will happen when I don’t care anymore? I know now that I was ‘that’ close! (I had no energy to write my daily number of words…and that is serious!)

Sometimes I feel like I, alone, am now running my own private long-term care home with private, personal care for My Love. Not only am I giving 24/7 care, without normal sleep, I cannot always find short periods of respite in a day.

I am the nurse sitting beside him as he takes his 20 pills a day, reminding him the pills go in his mouth…after I show him where his mouth is… and helping him recall how to swallow the water, while keeping him from spitting his pills into the glass.

I schedule changing his disposable underwear in the morning, and then check throughout the day. I am currently his daily shower and shave attendant, plus his personal dresser, physcially holding his clothes so he can put them on and helping with his shoes. I must be with him during these tasks.

I am the cook who prepares special meals of soft foods, and cuts them as if for a toddler. I wash and put dishes away. I am the online grocery shopper, coupling a pickup with a run to the pharmacy for his pills. I definitely have been his taxi driver for nearly six years. I am the housekeeper, often cleaning two bathrooms several times a day- because he doesn’t remember which is his, and he ‘misses’ in both of them.

He does not leave my side. If I walk down the hall, he follows me, even to the kitchen, bathroom or shower to be reassured where I am. I seldom have time for the dusting and vacuuming, or doing laundry…but no longer is this a priority. All this from one person, increasing over the last ten years!

My life? I have none. Beyond my two daily naps, there is little time to do the things that others might consider essential.

A couple months ago, not long after getting our #2 Covid vaccinations, after nineteen months of the pandemic, being isolated, locked-down and house bound, I felt I had reached my limit. My limit of being a caregiver doing things way beyond what one person should have to do for another for nearly ten years. I was beyond thinking, but trying to keep up with what basics had to be done: feeding, sleeping. Unfortunately, I have lived and understand that undesirable ‘modern proverb,’ “two living in the shoes of one, 24/7” too long.

When someone cares…

What a difference a phone call makes! What a transformation someone who cares can make in the life of a nearly depressed caregiver!

During the same nineteen months of the pandemic, one of the attendants from My Love’s day program called each and every week—to check on our status. During the call of week 71, the lady must have heard my anxiety, my tired voice, my exhausted choice of words. Within hours of that call, she called me back and asked if she could try to get me help. I assured her the provincial help was coming, albeit slowly. She took over.

The next thing I knew, there was a Community paramedic team in our home, assessing My Love’s health and our needs. Within days, the community paramedic came to our home with the provincial coordinator, so together they could hear our needs and express what should be done and what was possible at the time.

I was the blessed beneficiary of caring, dynamo personalities in action!

Grateful for the help…

Yes! What a difference all those phone calls made in our lives. How humbled I felt knowing someone truly cared, how much better I felt when someone who could help came to our home to listen. Within days, even I could feel the heavy weights lifting from my shoulders as visits by those who would come to assist were being scheduled

We now have someone come shower and dress and shave My Love three times a week. We have had calls to help me with understanding his swallowing difficulties and his nutritional needs for when I have to cut up his meals, and when I may have to blend the foods. And, although I had previously spoken with the pharmacist, I now learned which foods I could put crushed pills with, as well as which pills I could crush and which I could not administer in/with another food.

At the same time, the day programs have opened up to enable a reduced number of ‘club members’ to return for daily care, to spend a couple hours in a safe environment while the caregiver has time to do what must be done away from the home, without including the care of the loved one. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have time for my own obligations during that short period each week.

What a difference it made to have someone who recognized I had reached my personal tipping point and now was beyond limits I originally thought I could master; someone who was able to get the ball rolling, to start getting things to happen for me, a truly overwhlemed caregiver. I owe the people who got involved so much gratitude. I am so grateful, and appreciative for the dedication of the entire lineup whose help was directed my way.

Thank you for caring.

Caregiver support to the rescue (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone

Flowers from (c) Tatiana Mitrushova, see her shop @Mitrushova on Etsy

Grateful for laughter

Grateful for laughter

Waking every morning at my age is a gift and not to be taken for granted. I awake feeling laughter I made it through another night. And blessed.

In the last while I have been a part of a caring group that has enabled me to create the habit of writing morning letters of gratefulness. For me, this practice of feeling grateful has reawakened awareness and mindfulness I had almost forgotten amid my daily caregiving challenges. Most the time what I write is for myself, but sometimes I share because something so deep about the gifts others add to my life has to be acknowledged.

This morning being grateful for laughter brought some beautiful memories. I love to giggle, to chuckle and laugh, but seldom thought about who or what would I be grateful to for making me laugh? I mean I like sweet laughter. Laughter that comes from a happy place of joy and delight. Laughter that takes your breath away and wears you out. Laughter that leaves a smile on your face and in your heart for a long time. Laughter that makes you want to hug the person you suddenly feel so connected to. Such wonderful laughter.

Unhealthy laughter, on the other hand, a sneer, a smirk, even a jeer, any laughter at the expense of another, really is a substitute for crying inside, and does not come from a place of goodness and does not feel right. When I find it hard to laugh on the outside, I am usually feeling bad on the inside. That is not the laughter I want to encourage for me or for you.

My mother loved to laugh, and my sister and brothers, my children and grandchildren, contagious laughter that made tears roll down our cheeks. I loved when we had a good belly laugh, releasing whatever we had so tightly held inside. Nothing was more binding than being able to laugh together. I miss that.

I innately try to laugh with people every chance I get when talking with someone. I generally try to bring laughter into conversations so maybe this morning’s letter can show gratefulness to me for keeping laughter in my life.

I even try to laugh with my loved one, but these days it is always a test because so often he cannot connect the dots to create a reason to laugh. I try to find TV programs that might be funny to him. But even that seldom works. But if I laugh, sometimes he just laughs because I am laughing. Surely, it must feel good to him, even if he is just laughing with me.

It seems that in the pandemic, with less social contact, opportunities for laughter have been replaced with solitude. We’ve zoomed ourselves silly, but the craving for connections, a touch, those real-life hugs, the meetings of the soul still loom unfulfilled. I wonder if others, too, notice that laughter is a missing ingredient.

We can bring laughter back into our lives. Have you ever just laughed because your soul needed to feel the expression of joy moving through your entire body? I have escaped into laughter sometimes just to confirm I have not become a robot living on an island. I am grateful for laughter.

In lieu of real people, some the the cartoons posted online can generate sweet laughter. But laughing to myself, laughing alone, while it may bring a warm smile, does not create the happiness of laughing, even giggling, with someone else.

I notice I’m laughing more about the things associated with the craziness of the aging process, wonderful behaviours of animals, and natural antics of children than about anything personal. Just this week a friend from my high school days…sixty-one years ago…wrote on my Facebook page that one of his best memories was the two of us laughing together. And when I read it, I could almost see him and hear his wonderful laugh. I so wished we could laugh together again.

I am not a comedian, I am not really a comic. But I really do enjoy laughing.

The two ladies from local health organizations who have phoned us for the last forty-six weeks of the pandemic have become friends. Inevitably we find topics that make us laugh together. Stress release is healthy medicine for us all. Find a way to get laughter into your morning routine when you set the tone for the rest of your day.

I hope you will look for situations where you, too, can laugh, out loud, let yourself go, and allow the tears to flow. Enjoy that wonderful feeling of happiness that laughter brings. Feel the blessing that you have this day that you can laugh.

Grateful for Laughter (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone

Each day, do something that makes others smile and your heart sing.