I’m So Tired I Can’t Think

my train of thought 2

Fatigue and muddled thoughts are familiar to caregivers. Living  in a constant sate of alert is exhausting. Night after night of interrupted sleep robs one of the ability to retain information. Even familiar tasks become difficult. That is why so many posts for caregivers advise us to get plenty of rest.

Once the train of thought derails everything becomes more difficult. Even a drive home along a familiar road can be a frightening experience.

Rodger had not been doing well for quite some time. It was clear he was failing and it was time to consider hospice care. His swallowing problems had worsened to the point he was getting very little nourishment and a few days earlier a  feeding tube was suggested.  After talking it over with doctors, his nurses, and Mike we all came to the same conclusion.

Rodger was not a good candidate for the procedure. His schizophrenia already made him suspicious about blood tests and medications. Having a device inserted into his body would cause him untold stress and he would probably pull it out putting him at risk for infection and further complications.  It was also explained  that patients like him did not fare much better with the tube than they would without it.

I had spent hours at his side in the hospital for days and I needed to get away for a few hours. All the way home I thought about the decisions we’d have to make.  Deciding to pass on the feeding tube could appear to some people as agreeing to let him starve to death, something Rodger often accused me of doing. Would hospice care, either in the hospital or at home, send a message to others that we were willing to stand by and let him die?

I was so deep in thought that I drove for miles on autopilot. At one point I came to a stoplight and looked around, wondering where I was and how I got there. Had I passed my turnoff or was it still somewhere up ahead? Nothing looked familiar and I feared I had lost my way. After several moments of panic, I decided to continue on rather than take a chance on making a wrong turn.  Finally, I began to recognize the landscape.  I was on the right path after all. Was the slip-up meant as a message for me? Was I to continue on as I’d been doing and follow my instincts? Was it possible that I did know what I was doing after all?

Who the hell knows? I prayed for guidance as I continued on my way. Dear God, please show me the path you want me to take.

A few days later Rodger was approved for in home hospice care. He did not have a feeding tube inserted. He lived for several  months not  having to worry about why his family had allowed someone to implant a strange device in his body. I remain convinced we chose the right path.

If you have had moments of confusion due to fatigue and stress please share them  here and tell us and how you managed to work it through. It may help another caregiver get her  or his life back on track.

Read My Guest Post, Channeling Martha Stewart, on The Caregiver Space –

Channeling Martha Stewart – Getting Crafty with Caregving  


What do you do to keep boredom from overwhelming your loved one? What worked and what didn’t?

Don’t Make Me Take Away Dr. Phil!

Contributor Post by Madison Hill

As a kid, I was never particularly fond of showering, but I was forced to do it (usually against my little, stubborn will). My mom possessed the perfect mix of power and patience—coercing me into bathing without too many tears or casualties. Despite my rough, early relationship with cleanliness, by the time I was in middle school I had embraced showering with open arms (after all, I had boys to impress, and I wanted to put my freshest foot forward), and in an ironic turn of events, my parents usually had to kick me out of the bathroom before I used all of the hot water.
Flash forward a few decades, and my how the tables have turned. I battled my children with bathing (naturally—it’s the circle of life) but I never thought I’d encounter the same struggle with my own mom. Thanks to the Alzheimer’s that is gradually swallowing her memories, my mother has developed an aversion (fear? loathing? resistance?) to showering or bathing. Most of the time, she just adamantly refuses my “shower time” suggestions, and instead insists that she has already showered. Or that she doesn’t need to shower. Or that she will shower later (in this case, later=never).

You…can’t…make…me!You can't make me dog in bath (Image Credit)
For the sake of maintaining the peace, I tried every trick that had worked for my kids. I gave her the option of bathing now, or in five minutes. She chose neither. I felt weird threatening her with taking away her treasured time with “Dr. Phil,” but I tried it anyway. Not only did it not work, but the resulting meltdown that occurred was not worth a million showers. I (briefly, but almost seriously) thought about putting some sort of a toy or something in there that she would enjoy (this worked well for one of my daughters) but eventually dismissed the idea. Instead, I put a chair in the tub, so that she would feel as comfortable as possible. And still—no cooperation. Not even a drop. I can’t tell you how many times I cried, yelled, and doubted my sanity—over bath time!

unahppy wet puppy(Image Credit)
I think this pretty much sums it up…

One morning, I started the shower with the intent to let the water warm before I got in. Per the usual, I got distracted by a piece that the Today show was doing about in-home caregivers (coincidence? I felt not). I’ve often thought that maybe I should hire a professional to help me care for mom—I’m clearly not an expert (the shower ordeal is only one of many) and I’m so far from perfect that I often wonder if I’m even being effective. I grabbed my laptop and began doing research on the right questions to ask potential caregivers when I heard mom ask me why the shower was running. My response was absentminded at best (and perhaps a bit sarcastic)—“I started it because you told me that you wanted to shower, so I got it warmed up like you asked.”
Mom looked at me and simply said “Oh, yes—that’s right.” I’ll never know why I said that, but I do know that what happened next made me wonder if I had finally, completely, lost my mind. I watched my mom walk calmly towards the bathroom, shut the door, and eventually get in the shower. I’m pretty sure I dropped my computer and tiptoed (I guess I was afraid to disturb the miracle) over to the shower. I cracked the door, peeked in, and sure enough—my mom was showering! I almost squealed and cried at the same time—finally—a solution that would forever end our mother-daughter Civil War!
More often than not, I feel like I’m doing all of this wrong—and maybe I am. But small victories (like a war-zone free bath time) give me hope that maybe, sometimes, I’m doing something right.

Madison Hill (2)

Madison Hill is a freelance writer with a croquet obsession. When she’s not making homemade kreplach with her mother, you can find her playing the piano and scrapbooking.

Elderly Rape Victim Dismissed as ‘Flirt’

Instead of receiving care she was confined to a mental ward for three days!
The idea that this woman was treated with such callous disregard is shocking. While I was an in home caregiver, not every family has that option. The elderly are in nursing homes to be cared for and protected.

The following was written by  Melissa Roman, February 27, 2014 and appears on  the AgingCare.com website. Click on the link for the Minneapolis Star Tribune to read more.

Elderly rape victim called ‘flirt’

A Minnesota nursing home defends the admitted and convicted rapist of an 89-year-old female resident by accusing her of being a “flirt,” reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. According to court documents, the offender, a male nursing assistant employed by the facility, entered the woman’s room to give her medications while she was getting ready for bed and forced himself on her. After the victim’s daughter told police what had happened, the nursing home transferred the older woman to a psychiatric ward for three days, allowing five days to pass before she received a medical examination. The nursing assistant was sentenced to 53 months in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years. The official Health Department investigation into the incident concluded that the blame rested with the male employee, not the nursing home, but the victim and her family have since sued the facility for punitive damages.

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