A Week Away

The Imperfect Caregiver will be away until August 10th. I’ll be spending a lot of time with my granddaughter, Mallory. She lives in another state and I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I’d like. I look forward to lots of giggles and hugs with her and some quality time with my husband and my son and daughter-in-law. I’ve  scheduled a message to appear each day so know you are still in my thoughts and prayers. Today and every day, Blessed Be.

care and love

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Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver – Special Offer

One more day to receive the sale price.

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Caregiver Cover Web Bobbi Carducci’s life was about to change. Her ill father-in-law ‘s odd behavior was a mystery when he came to live with her and Mike. For the next seven years Bobbi did everything she could to save him from himself—while he tried to convince everyone that he didn’t need her and that she was crazy.

Caregiver Bobbi took on “the system” and Rodger’s Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Age Related Dementia, Dysphagia, C.O.P.D, and Congestive Heart Failure.

“Brutally honest and written from the heart, Carducci’s intimate chronicle of caring for her father-in-law is a poignant story of strength, compassion, and humor that will linger with you long after you read the last page. Highly recommended for anyone caring for an elderly parent.”
Jan Neuharth, author of the Hunt Country Suspense novels

“Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver, perfectly encapsulates the human experience, not just the caregiver’s. When we live in a world of worry, stress and self-doubt, where do we find the strength to go on? Bobbi’s retelling of her caregiving years unfolds in a beautiful answer to the questions posed by sickness, health, care, and loss.”
Alexandra Axel, Media Director, The Caregiver Space

Remembering Rodger

Rodger Carducci

 July 26, 1926 – July 26, 2009

001

A year ago today I celebrated with family friends the release of Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver.  The day was one of joy mixed with sadness as were so many of the days I spent writing it. We chose to release the book on Rodger’s birthday to honor him and his life.  I knew when I decided to share our story I would experience again all the emotions of living it. I told Mike to be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. He knew all too well what that meant. He lived it too and would have his own moments of joy and regret. However, we agreed it was important to speak the truth about what it’s really like to be a caregiver.

I was determined to be brutally honest. I included the good days, the days of precious moment of clarity and remembrance he chose to share with us. However, I  also share the many moments of anger and doubt. I cry and pray and vent the frustration that comes with doing the best you can in an impossible situation for someone who sometimes loves you but far more often resents you for trying to save them from themselves.

Caregivers often asked, “Why doesn’t someone write a book that shows what it’s really like?”  Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver does that. Caregivers,  you know what it’s like. You live it every day. It is now my wish is to get into the hands of your friends and family members in the hope that, in reading our story, they will better understand your situation and offer to help in any way they can.

Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver is for caregivers, those who may become caregivers, those who have been caregivers and those who may one day need care. I hope our story helps everyone understand that you don’t have to get it right every time in order to succeed and sometimes being a little bit crazy is exactly what is needed. Available via Amazon and Barnes&Noble. To purchase a signed copy you are invited to contact Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, VA (540-687-7016) or via email: secondchapterbks@gmail.com

 

#Dr. Phil – Change Will Happen

Change will happen Dr Phil

Someone posted the picture above on Facebook and I had to copy it and share it with you. Each night before I go to sleep I end my prayers by saying, “Show me the path you want me to take.” The road I end up on is often a lot longer and more difficult to travel than I would have hoped but I always end up exactly where I need to be. I have learned to pay attention to the messages I receive in response. Many, like this one, pop up in the most unexpected places.

On May 26, 2015 I watched a segment on the Dr. Phil Show where he featured young woman caring for her father who has had a devastating stroke. I was thrilled to see a caregiver being recognized. However, soon that feeling was replaced be deep disappointment and frustration when, instead of doing anything help her in any way, he offered her only the same trite advice caregivers know they should follow but have no means to do so.

Take care of yourself first. Get enough rest. Eat right. Exercise. Don’t feel guilty about taking time with friends.

I took a few days to cool down so I could respond without anger and on May 30, 2015 I issued a challenge to Dr. Phil to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to set up a grant program for caregivers most in need of help. You can the full text of that post here:

Dr. Phil- You Let Caregivers Down and I Challenge You to Do Better

Since then I have been contacting him regularly via his website and adding a few words to my nightly prayer,“Dear God, show me the path you want me to take. Show me the way to reach Dr. Phil.”

And what did I get on my Facebook page but a clear image of a path captioned with this message: “Change will happen because you MAKE IT HAPPEN.” #DRPHIL

I am now more determined than ever to continue contacting Dr. Phil and do everything I can to convince him to get started on the path to establishing that grant.

In order to amp up the volume I ask that you add your voice to my efforts. Let him know I am not alone in asking for help. Please go to www.DRPHIL.com and encourage him to accept the Dr. Phil Challenge. Feel free to include a link to this post.

 

NO!

No

NO! Two letters that exude tremendous power. It’s easy to say and has a huge impact. It soon becomes a favorite word for people in our care.

It’s time to eat. Are you hungry?

No.

It’s time for bed. You need to rest.

No.

Bath time.

No!

Food they loved yesterday they want no part of today. Bedtime becomes something to be avoided at all costs. Take a bath? At the very suggestion a temper tantrum is bound to ensue. This is how it often is for them and for us. And it’s so damn frustrating for everyone. Admit it, you get mad. You begin to think they are doing this on purpose to get back at you for some unknown reason. You want to cry and scream and throw a tantrum of your own. I did. I did all of that and it didn’t help one damn bit. And after my little tirade had ended the guilt set in. How could I behave like that? He was sick. He couldn’t help it. What was wrong with me?

The answer to that is, nothing. Nothing was wrong with me and nothing is wrong with you.

The fault can be found in this quote from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

People with dementia often do not understand the question and don’t know what to say in response and as a result take the easy way, or in this case, the easy word, out. NO becomes automatic.

When they can’t tell us what they are thinking or feeling their behavior becomes their way of communicating. What would you do if you couldn’t tell someone you were hungry, afraid, cold, or too hot? What if they kept asking you questions in a language you could not understand?

I know I’d become angry and want nothing to do with them. I’d dig in my heels and refuse to cooperate. I’d also hope that someone somewhere would figure out what I needed or wanted.

Sitting here now, writing about it instead of living it every day, I hope to be able to help you.

Diffuse, diffuse, diffuse, is always the answer. Like everything else in dementia world it isn’t easy. It’s simply what is.

If they say no to food take it away and offer it again a half hour later. Don’t ask if they want it, put it in front of them and walk away. If they have to be fed, get them ready and start feeding them. If they refuse again walk away again. Go back a half hour later and say, “I prepared the food you asked for. Here it is.” This worked for us until it didn’t. There came a time when he stopped eating altogether. It broke my heart and it will yours too but it happens when they are preparing to go. It’s time for hospice.

The sleep problem is one of the hardest for us all. They need and want less sleep, we need more in order to care for them and ourselves. If you are alone in this you have to rest when you can. If that means the housework goes, so be it. I wish I had an answer for this. I don’t. If anyone does, please post it here.

Rodger would refuse to bathe and wear the same clothes for days at a time. He would begin to smell bad. He insisted that people in the Old Country (Italy) don’t wash as often as people in America. There was no convincing him otherwise so I stopped trying. He would take a shower and change his clothes before going to the doctor. I used that a lot. He never realized he had a lot of canceled appointments after bathing. Sneaky but effective.

When he could no longer shower by himself I would start the water running, put his shower seat in the tub, and warm some towels in the dryer and lead him into the bathroom. When he saw everything was ready he didn’t resist. This may not work for everyone but it may work for some.

I recently read that water is invisible to some people with dementia. They don’t want it on them and they don’t want to drink it. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t want some invisible substance pelting me either. Nor would I want to put something I couldn’t see into my mouth. It’s up to us to figure out a way to help them understand what’s happening. Use a shower wand and let the warm water flow over their feet until it is okay to move up the body. Keep the spray away from their face. If modesty is a factor allow them to shower in their underwear. They will get clean, the underwear will get wet and they will take it off and put on a clean set.

When it comes to drinking, try adding a few drops of juice in the water to give it some color.

Even if you try these things and they work, the NO! won’t go away entirely and all of this may be a bust for some of you. I understand that your situation is as unique as the person in your care. If there were a magic answer we’d all use it and this blog would go away. I’d miss it but I would celebrate too.

If you have a tip, a hint, a suggestion that works for you I invite you to share it in the comment section. We need all the help we can get and we need each other. Blessed be.

Don’t let Dr. Phil say NO to the Dr. Phil Challenge. Join me in pinging on him to use his resources to establish grant funds to help caregivers who need it most. www.DrPhil.com

 

Caregivers Are Beautiful

beautiful woman

Caregivers are unique in every way. It is the caring we do that brings us together and links us in a way that cannot be broken. Know that the Imperfect Caregiver understands how special you are, even when you believe you are failing. Blessed be.

Dr. Phil, Help the Caregivers who need it most. http://www.drphil.com

Winner, Winner

find some humor

Sometimes all you can do is laugh. The following is an excerpt from my book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver.

When he first came to live with us, the only things he asked us to buy for him were Milk of Magnesia and prune juice. He had prescriptions for stool softeners and laxatives issued by his former doctors and continued by his new doctor. He constantly complained of constipation, greeting everyone he spoke to, including strangers, with “Hello. How’s everything? My bowels don’t move.” If he did happen to go, he made sure he told them about that as well, in great detail. It soon became clear he was taking far too much of the stuff. Every day, in the morning and at midday, he’d drink a large glass of prune juice, followed by Milk of Magnesia. Often he’d wait a few moments after taking it, look at his watch, and take some more. A few moments later he’d do it again. One day, after just telling me he’d had a bowel movement, I saw him drink another large glass of prune juice and reach for the Milk of Magnesia.

“Why are you taking that? “ I asked.

“For the constipation,” he said.

“But you just went.”

“That don’t count. It was all liquid.”

That’s when I knew I had to do something. No matter how we tried to explain it to him, he wouldn’t accept that it was the laxatives that were causing his problem. The more he took, the worse it got—and the more he worried—resulting in a vicious cycle that was interfering in his normal bodily functions. His psychiatrist said that it’s not unusual for a schizophrenic to keep track of what goes in and out of his body. In his mind, solid food was going in but nothing solid was coming out. That meant something was very wrong. Once I began to limit his access to prune juice and Milk of Magnesia, and started monitoring his use of laxatives, he started showing signs of stress. He paced and muttered to himself and began making frequent trips to the bathroom where he’d sit for hours, waiting for something to happen. I hated to see him like that, but I had to ease him off the stuff. His doctor tried to help by telling him that taking too many laxatives could interfere with his other medications and land him back in the hospital. He wasn’t buying it. When I wouldn’t give in, he complained to Mike, and when Mike backed me up, he called him one of the worst insults he could think of.

“You’re nothing but a dictator! You’re another Mussolini, that’s what you are!”

Later, after Rodger calmed down and we were getting ready for bed, Mike looked over at me and shook his head. “Mussolini? Now I’m Mussolini?”

I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The giggles I’d been trying hard to stifle came rolling out. “The Mussolini of laxatives!” I laughed harder. “You Fascist poop dictator!”

Mike looked at me in confusion for a moment, and then the hilarity of the situation hit him and he was laughing as hard as I was. I laughed so hard I got the hiccups, and that made us laugh even more. We ended up rolling on the bed, laughter feeding more laughter, until we were exhausted.

“Oh wow, I needed that,” I said when I was finally able to catch my breath.

“Me too,” Mike agreed. “I don’t know how you do it every day. He’s so damned stubborn. I’m glad I’m not like that.”

“Right.” I poked him the ribs. “Me either. I’m not stubborn. I’m determined.”

“Yes, dear,” Mike said with a grin. “Do you think you can determine to keep loving me through all this?”

“Sure, if you can determine to come over here and give me a kiss.”

“Sure thing, Babe.” He enveloped me in his arms and kissed me, both of still chuckling.

If you’ve have a winning moment that laugh you laughing, I invite you to share it here:

And if you want to vent – Please join me in pinging on Dr. Phil to use his resources to help caregivers via creating a grant for respite care and other kinds of help for caregivers who need it most.  Send him a message at www.drphil.com

Caring Takes Courage

Lion  Quiet Courage

Caring takes courage. The courage to open your home and heart to what is to come. The courage to advocate fiercely for those in your care. The courage to know the day may come when you will hear the words, “Who are you?” from your mother or father.

Sometimes it takes every ounce of your brave spirit to get up and face another day of doing this. Yet you do. You continue even when you feel a desperate need to run away from it all. There may be days when you do roar. When you rage against these terrible diseases. When you fight with your spouse over the unfairness of it all. Or in the dark moments when you lose your temper with the one in your care. Yes, it happens to you and it happens to others.

It happened to me. When it did I cowered in shame. When had I become weak and nothing but a coward afraid of what another day would bring. I cried. I prayed. I vented and I cried some more.

Finally, as the tears fell, washing away some of the stress, my strength grew and I heard that little voice again and I slept allowing me to regain the courage to try again tomorrow.

Don’t forget to help me gain the Attention of  Dr. Phil. Join me in encouraging him to accept the Dr. Phil Challenge to establish a grant through the Dr. Phil Foundation to provide respite and assistance to caregivers who need it most.  Go to the Dr. Phil website and leave a comment at http://www.drphil.com

 

 

 

 

When You Fall to the Floor and Shatter

shattered

Caregivers and those in their care have been tipped over by the gusts of life.  Many of our loved ones have fallen and broken bones, many more have had memories break away piece by piece creating razor sharp shards of anger and resentment in their place. They lash out at us in their confusion inadvertently causing us to begin to break as well.

Often those around us fail to see the damage these devastating diseases bring about. Too often others see it and choose to “walk around the pieces, lest they cut themselves upon the scatter.”

Today and every day it is my hope that you have someone in your life to glue you back together.  If you are alone in this, know that I understand and I am here for you.

Feel free to reach out to me via the comments section on this blog or privately via email at bcarducci@comcast.net

Caregivers need help. Please join me in continuing the Dr. Phil Challenge and encourage him to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to create a grant to provide real help to caregivers who need it most.  Go http://www.drphil.com and leave a comment on his website supporting my plea.

 

 

If It’s So Hard, Why Did I Do It?

Earlier this week I had the privilege of sharing some of my caregiver experiences with Dave Nassaney on his blogtalk radio program. Dave is known as the caregivers caregiver. He knows, as I do, how hard being a caregiver can be. One of the many questions he asked me is, “If it’s so hard, why do it?”

I know each of you have your own answer to that question and I’d love if you would share your thoughts in the comment section of this post. We may never meet but we are connected in a very special way and I look forward to hearing from you whenever you choose to reach out to me.

Perhaps some of your family members will better understand how they can help you if they listen to this interview. Please share the link as you see fit. Including with Dr. Phil to encourage him to support caregivers via the Dr. Phil Foundation to create grants to help caregivers most in need of help. Yes, I’m still pinging on him to do better.

Here again is the link to the interview with Dave Nassaney on blogtalk radio.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/caregiver-interviews/INTERVIEW+BOBBI+CARDUCCI.mp3

You can find Dave on Facebook and learn more about him as a caregiver at https://www.facebook.com/MobilDavid?fref=ts

Caregiver Cover Web www.bobbicarducci.com

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