A Hug For You and Your Loved Ones

 

hug 3

This is the final day of National Blog Post Month and I met my goal of posting a blog a day. It’s been difficult at times to find something meaningful to share with you. Not that I don’t have anything to say, there is so much more to our story I am confident I can write about caregiving for many years to come. The sometimes difficult part is to be inspired on any given day to the degree that will honor all that you do.

This weekend two of my youngest granddaughters were here over night. They ran me ragged and I loved every minute of it. They just left with their Mom. I knew it would be exhausting but I want to spend as much time with them as possible while they are little and I am still able to hold them on my lap and tell them stories. One of the things I treasure most about these visits  is the hugs. Tiny arms wrapped around me always bring me a sense of peace and an outpouring of love.  It doesn’ matter how young or old we are, a hug is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer.

Hug your loved one today. You will both be enriched by it.

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You Held My Hand

 

As a child you held my hand

Hands reaching for one another speak to me as you can probably tell from this image as well as the images on the cover of Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver and my business card. They remind me of the innocence of my childhood and the many times I reached for the hand of my mother or father and the sense of security their touch inspired.

And of course I’ll never forget the first time I held the hand of one my four babies. The tiny fingers would wrap around one of mine as we bonded body to body. I held their hand when they took their first wobbly steps.  When they prepared to walk into school for the first time I felt the loss as their grip loosened and they began to slip away from my protection.

Now I hold the hand of my loved ones as we take our final steps together and although it is the hardest thing I’ll ever do it is a gift I will not shy from.

As a child you held my hand … Now is my turn to hold yours.

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

Keeping It Together

focus on what holds you togetherAt the end of the day I spent so much time going over what  I might have done better and trying to figure out how to fix an unfixable problem I lost sight of the truth. Together we were doing our best and that was all anyone could ask of us. 
 
Caregiver, be kind to yourself you are doing something wonderful every day.
 
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NaBloPoMo November 2014

Because Your Loved One May Not Be Able to Say It

When I Count My Blessings

Today when my family and I hold hands around the table I will count every one of you among the blessings for which I am thankful. Without you so many would be lost.

Blessed be everyone.

 

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

A Bit of Humor To Get You Through

As you continue to care for your loved ones and prepare to recognize the Thanksgiving holiday in a way that is best for you and your family; I offer a bit of humor in the hope of bringing a smile to your face.

survive the week

And in honor of your making it through as I’m sure you will, you are a caregiver after all, here is your sparkling helmet.

sparkle helmet

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

 

Please Make It Stop

melting clock “What time is it?”

“11:00 in the morning.”

Thirty seconds later – “What time is it?”

Thinking he didn’t hear me I told him again. “11:00 in the morning.”

Thirty seconds later – “What time is it?”

I sighed and turned down the sound on the TV and repeated the time once more.

Thirty seconds later – “What time is it.”

Then I knew. He’s mind was stuck in a loop. Before I understood what was happening I would get frustrated and angry with him. He would go on like that for hours. Why the hell did he do it? Didn’t he know it was annoying as hell? I was convinced he did it on purpose in order to get attention or to get back at me for controlling him as he often accused me of doing.

Then I learned more about dementia and how the brain works. He wasn’t doing it on purpose. He could no more stop repeating himself than a scratched old record album could stop from skipping when the needle reached a flawed groove. (If you’re too young to understand that reference, ask a baby boomer, he or she will explain it to you.)

Once I understood what was happening I was able to figure out what to do. I had to move his thoughts past the flaw in the groove so they could move on to the next section.

“What time is it?”

“It’s almost time for lunch. Are you hungry?”

“No. What time is it?”

“It’s time to wash your face. Here is a warm cloth.”

The distraction helped for few minutes and then he asked again, “What time is it?”

“It’s time to fold these towels. Will you help me?”

“Yes. I have to do something sometime. It’s not good to sit and loaf all day.”

A few minutes pass in blessed silence as he folds the towels and I take them an unfold them to keep him occupied.

And then it happened. He looked up from his work and said, “My mother, she washed clothes on Monday. Monday was wash day.”

As he folded all the towels one more time he began to relate another memory of his youth. The needle had moved on and the result was truly music to my ears.

Note: It may take a few moments and some creative answers to move your loved one out of the loop but if you keep trying it will work and cut the time you both have to deal with to minutes instead of hours.

Does your loved one get stuck in a loop asking the same question or saying the same thing over and over? How do you handle it? I’d love to hear from you. Post your response in the comment block below.

 

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

 

The Holidays Are Here – It’s Time to Go to the Hospital

It happened every year. At some point in the holiday season Rodger would be in the hospital. Aspiration pneumonia three years in row between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A heart attack on Thanksgiving Day one year. Worsening Dysphagia on top of fluid buildup in his lungs due to congestive heart failure the following year. One time a broken partial plate sliced a gash in his tongue requiring a trip to the nearest Urgent Care where he sat with a bloody paper towel hanging out of his mouth for over an hour waiting for treatment while others in the waiting room tried hard not to stare. I can only wonder what they must have been thinking. A week later he developed a fever and had to be admitted with an infection of unknown origin.

The stress of the holidays got to him. We were doing all the work to get everything done while his routine went on unchanged. Why then did it take such a toll on him?

Holidays are a time to gather and share a feast with our family and friends. When we are children we watch our mothers and grandmothers prepare the meal, inhale the delicious aromas of various pies baking in the oven and look forward to chasing our siblings and cousins through the house while the adults sit at the table long after dinner and talk about boring stuff.

When we become the parents we follow in their footsteps taking satisfaction in passing on our traditions. Then the losses begin, becoming more devastating as the years pass. Our grandparents first, then our parents. We still celebrate but the occasions are tinged with melancholy as we look back with joy and a few tears remembering the ones no longer with us.  We share stories of the past. We laugh and cry and hold the new generation of infants and children a bit longer than they like because they are our hope and we know one day we will be their memories.

The stress of the holidays got to him every year and  it may do the same for your loved ones. If it does it could be because they are reliving the losses more than the joys in their life. Depressions sets in and with it their immunity becomes compromised. Unfortunately,  I don’t have any miracle solutions to offer. What may ease them in the moment for one of us may backfire for another and we all receive more advice from others than we can possibly follow anyway.

What I can say is, “I understand and I am here for you when things begin to become more than you can handle on any given day. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the good memories when they come.”

 

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Lead Me to The Rock

lead me to the rock psalm 61 2

Sometimes prayer was the only thing that got me through the long days and nights of caregiving. Too much stress, too little sleep, very little help, all piled up and sapped my strength and I turned to prayer. In one form another my cry was always the same, “I need help. Please send help.”

And He did. In His time and in a way that may have been unexpected, help arrived.

For all the caregivers close to the end of their stamina, I send out this prayer.

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

A blessed Sunday to you all.

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

 

The Face of a Caregiver

The following is written by caregiver blogger, Barbara London

Hidden Face 3Walking along the street – do you see her? Can you tell who she is or what she may be hiding deep inside? Do her inner feelings show; her longings or desires? Do you know what she spends her time doing? She could be almost anyone you see in the park; at the mall; at the grocery store; walking beside you every day. She could be someone’s wife, mother, daughter, sister, maybe even grandmother. Actually, “she” could even be a “he”!

The face of a caregiver is that of any other person you may see. They have the same feelings and desires as you or anyone else. They spend their time caring for a loved one who is unable to care for themselves. Sometimes they don’t have any choice in caring for this loved one; and sometimes they aren’t even sure if they even love that loved one anymore!

Many times the caregiver doesn’t even consider themselves a caregiver…which is where I found myself just a few months ago.

“She drew an unsteady breath. Yes, he has problems, and yes, I struggle with my feelings toward him all the time. But he’s not a bad man and I know that part of me will always care for him. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the reason he’s able to function as well as he still does…’

These words from the Nicholas Sparks book “The Best of Me” could be written by me about the journey that I am on with my husband who has vascular dementia. We have been on this journey for quite a long time; yet I have just recently realized that I am a caregiver. And, there have certainly been times when I wished I could walk away from it all!

I questioned the idea of my being a caregiver for several reasons:

  1. My husband is still capable of handling many things on his own: dressing and bathing himself; eating/or feeding himself; warming up leftovers in the microwave; driving and getting where he need to go by himself; various other chores around the apartment.
  2. My husband’s dementia was caused by small strokes that damaged the memory portion of the brain; as far as we know, there have not been any more strokes and he has been somewhat stable since the diagnosis; but he is now getting worse.
  3. We have not had the same doctor for quite a number of years due to changes in insurance coverage and having to switch to different doctors. The doctor who was originally treating my husband is no longer in practice. So, there hasn’t been any consistent follow-up of the diagnosis.
  4. My husband’s personality has sometimes been a little abusive (verbally and mentally) and I was not able, at first, to decide if it was personality or the dementia that was causing these outbursts.

Yet, there are things that my husband is unable to do: cook a decent meal (using the stove rather than the microwave); make a budget and buy nutritious foods and items needed rather than snacks and munchies; handle the checkbook and finances; make doctor’s appointments; order prescription refills and setting up his daily doses of medications.

In addition to the above reasons, my husband is good at hiding his hearing problem – he just nods his head in agreement, or assumes he knows what has been said. And he is even better at covering up his forgetfulness; he just repeats the same questions multiple times if he is unsure or has forgotten. In the beginning, I just didn’t realize he was covering up.

Recently, I participated in the write31days.com challenge to write on a particular topic for the 31 days of October. I shared the journey with my husband’s dementia using the title “Dementia’s Demands”. During this time I was encouraged and supported by a wonderful group of bloggers who were also participating in the challenge; many, as I later learned by reading their blogs, were also on a journey with dementia, cancer, depression, and many other difficulties. Many were, in one form or another, a caregiver. Yet, looking at their pictures – they didn’t look much different than I or anyone else! As the days of that month continued, I discovered that – yes! – I am a caregiver! I “care for” someone who is unable, in many ways, to care for themselves. This, in itself, makes me a caregiver.

Are you struggling with that identity? Think about it…you may well be one, too!

For more on caregivng from Barbara’s London go here::http://scrapper123.blogspot.com

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

You Have to Eat Something!

Eating was one of Rodger’s few pleasures in life. Severe Dysphagia robbed him of the ability to enjoy his favorite things like pita bread and big juicy oranges but mealtime was still very important. He watched the clock and started asking for his tray at least fifteen minutes before he really wanted it. Schedules were to be kept to the minute or his stress levels would rise. Over time he ate less and less and began losing weight. Then the day came when he pushed the plate away and refused to take in a single bite. I took it away thinking he would eat it later. He didn’t. He seemed to lose interest altogether.

He had to be hungry. Didn’t his body insist on sustenance? What was going on? When I was able to cajole him into taking a few bites it felt like a victory for me. By his response I knew he felt just the opposite. This woman is forcing me to do this and I don’t like it.

Almost every day caregivers are saying the same thing. “My loved one won’t eat. What can I do?”

I tried everything I could think of to get more nutrition into him. I wish I had known about how the color of the plate I was putting the food on could have made a difference.

Recently I came upon the following quote and it made me stop and think.

“If you couldn’t see mashed potatoes would you eat them?

red plate

There are many posts and articles online that suggest that red plates are they way to go. Other colors have been suggested as well, including blue and yellow. I had to wonder if one color was better than another, and if so, why?

Then I ran across a post on Home Sweet Home Care, Inc. that strongly suggests that color, contrast, and plate size can make a difference. It states in part:

 “We Are Influenced by More than Plate Color

“So the full story, according to this newer study, is that how much one consumes is highly influenced not only by plate color, but also by plate size and even the background (tablecloth) the plate is placed upon. Thus the solution suggesting that you use red plates for dementia patients is only accurate if you are serving light colored foods, such as mashed potatoes. Whereas fresh tomatoes, strawberries, and tomato soup, which are themselves bright red would be better served on white or bright non-red plates. Serving these foods on red plates would not increase food consumption because there would be insufficient contrast between the food and the serving dish.

Now keep in mind that this technique of serving food that is in high contrast with the plate it is being served upon (or cup/liquid) is a method that helps those who are having difficulty seeing. Clarity of vision often plagues the elderly and those with Alzheimer’s. So increasing the contrast between food and the item it is being served with will assist them in both seeing and consuming the food or liquid. As the original article touting red plates for dementia as a solution stated, “if you couldn’t see your mashed potatoes, would you eat them?” So Sometimes choosing a red plate for dementia patients is the right choice.”

I thank the author for posting this advice and hope that it helps make life a little bit easier for you and your loved ones.

To read the full article go to: http://www.homesweethomecareinc.com/caregiver-helpers/red-plates-for-dementia/

 

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

 

 

 

 

 

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