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

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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.

 

 

Caregivers Three

Cargivers Three 3                                                           Bobbi, Gregor, Erica

When I started The Imperfect Caregiver blog I did it because I had felt so very alone during the time I was caring for Rodger.  There didn’t seem to be anyone I could talk to who could possibly understand how hard it is to do this.  It is also why I decided to write the book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver. It was my hope that in writing about what it’s really like I could send a message to caregivers everywhere that someone does know. I am here and I do understand. I feel the emotions that course through you on the good days and the bad days. And there are so many bad days as the diseases progress and those in our care slip away memory by memory, piece by piece.

As I reach out to people in the caregiving world online and in person, the caregivers and those who write about caregiving, I am blessed to meet some amazing people and learn their stories. The more I hear from you and them, the more I learn and am able to share here and in the books to come.

Last week my husband and I traveled to New York City to see a staged reading of The Accidental Caregiver, a play based on the book by the same name, written by Gregor Collins. His story of caring for Maria Altman is vastly different than my story and, having read the book and seen the play, I imagine it is very different than that of yours as well.  They met as strangers and came to love one another as family, she in her 90s, and he in his 30s.  A unique story for sure.

The trip also provided and opportunity for me to finally meet in person another caregiver who bravely shares her story. I met Erica Herd online during the time I was completing Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver. Erica is a caregiver for her mother who is in a care facility. She is the author and solo performer of the play, Alzheimer’s Blues. Imagine reliving your story in front of audience over and over again. How brave and special that is.

I am grateful to have them as friends and proud to introduce you to them here.

Caregivers, your story is important. Please feel free to share some of your here.  And please, help ,e help you and others by adding your pleas to mine as I challenge Dr. Phil to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to establish grants to help caregivers most in need.

To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/

http://www.drphil.com/

@DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

 

Out of Order!

out of order sticker on my head

Wouldn’t it be nice to do just that? I know most of you can’t but it’s a wonderful thought, isn’t it?

When I saw this print I smiled. Not only at the sentiment but at the determined look on the duck’s face. And look at his stance. He means business.

“I’ve had it! I have been pushed to my limits and I’m done!” is what I see in this picture. There is no way to tell if he actually did what he felt like doing but I bet it felt good to announce his feelings to the world.

I had many days when I felt exactly like he does. I wanted to vent not only my feelings of anger and frustration but also my cry for help. In those moments I truly was “out of order.” My body was exhausted and my spirit broken.  I didn’t go back to bed and you won’t either. You can’t. There is too much to do. But, you can vent and you should.  If not here, then in private. Look in the mirror and stand like this little duck and let it out. Cry and scream if you have to. And, if you do, drop me a note in the comment section and let me know how it goes. It may just make your day.  I’m smiling just thinking about it and I hope you are too.

Dr. Phil, caregivers need your help. Please accept the Dr. Phil Challenge and use your resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to help caregivers most in need. I’ll happily help in any way you see fit.  You may contact me directly at bcarducci@comcast.net

Caregivers, to contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/

http://www.drphil.com/

@DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

Holding Tight When They Are At Their Worst

when at your worst

Caregivers, you are home to the ones in your care. The place where they are loved regardless of their behavior.  For most of them you are the only one keeping them safe from themselves. You are the gatekeeper fighting valiantly against the bitter, ugly diseases that attack them every day.

Being a warrior against a foe so powerful is brutal in its demands. You probably didn’t know how hard it would be when you took in the role. Now it’s draining you. Keeping you awake at night. Taking a toll on your health because you can’t leave the house to see your own doctor. Yet you continue for it is your arms holding them tight. You are their home.

Blessed be.

I invite you to share some of the worst things you have to cope with as a caregiver. Perhaps your story will help someone else get through the day. If you prefer to be anonymous you may contact me directly via email bcarducci@comcast.net  and I will post your comment for you.

It may even help to get Dr. Phil’s attention and get him to respond to the Dr. Phil Challenge to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to provide grant money to assist caregivers most in need of help.

To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/

http://www.drphil.com/

@DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

Do Not Believe All The Things You Tell Yourself At Night

sleepless woman

I know the voice of doubt. It comes in the night to question and criticize. It tells us we are not good enough or smart enough to do this.  It may come as a whisper or scream unceasingly. Either way it keeps us awake going over the activities of the day.

“How could you lose your temper you know he’s sick?”

“I can’t believe you said that to him.”

“How could you forget to tell the doctor about that?”

“You think you’re so smart, why is she getting worse every day?

Yes, I know the voice of doubt. I know how we question ourselves all the time. We expect so much of ourselves it’s impossible to live up to our expectations.  When family members do it we know they are full of s**t and we get angry. When we do it to ourselves we start to believe. We lose precious sleep judging ourselves harshly.

I know the voice of doubt. She whispered to me every night. She lied.  I hope by writing this post I will be able to convince you that the voice keeping you awake at night is no better than mine was.

You are a caregiver and you do not have to be perfect to do what is best for the person in your care.  And, sometimes being a little bit crazy is exactly what is needed in the moment.

What are some of the things you say to yourself late at night? Share them here. It may help you and other caregivers silence the voice and allow you to rest when you can.

I continue to plead with Dr. Phil to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to create a grant to provide caregivers with assistance.

To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/

http://www.drphil.com/

@DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

 

 

Please Be Kind

Encouragers wanted

Be kind to everyone may be too tall an order even for the most saintly among us. So, I am not going to ask that of you. I do ask that you be kind to the caregivers. The women, men, teens, young adults, paid caregivers, family caregivers, friend caregivers, etc. Be kind to them all.  Try as they may, caregivers never win. The ending of their story is inevitable. The pain is overwhelming.

Many will ask, “What can I do to help.”  The answers to that are too numerous to list so here are a few suggestions.

Stop in for a visit. Prepare a hot meal or have one delivered once a month.  Sit and talk with the person needing care so the caregiver can take a nap. Go to the grocery store.  Give the caregiver a day off to rest. Think, “What would I need most in his or her situation?” and do what you want people to do for you.

Be kind to caregivers. Become and encourager. Behavior is communication. What is your behavior saying to the caregiver in your family?

Oh, and help me get Dr. Phil’s attention. Encourage him to accept the Dr. Phil Challenge to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to establish grants to help caregivers most in need of respite. You can send him a message via the following social media links.

http://drphilfoundation.org/  http://www.drphil.com/ @DrPhil

 https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

 

 

 

How Do I Get Him To Eat?

why train in my mouth

This picture made me laugh. I remember playing that game with my little ones when they were reluctant to eat.  Food was strange. Textures felt weird in their mouth. Green stuff tasted okay but the orange glop? Disgusting.  Sweet stuff? Now we’re talking.

Sound familiar caregivers?

I remember Rodger telling his doctor that he loved vegetables. It was true. He was a farm boy used to eating them fresh from the field.  When he developed severe swallowing problems and his diet was limited to pureed foods and thickened liquids I made a lot of thick vegetable soups and stews, doing all I could to make sure they were full of nutrition and tasted good.  So, when the doctor asked which vegetable was his favorite I was surprised to hear him say, “Pudding, the white kind.”

For several days he’d been eating smaller and smaller portions of the purees, pushing my hand away when I tried to get him to eat more. I was at a loss as to what to do.

“Pudding, the white kind.” I thought.

If pudding was what he liked, pudding he would get. It was thick enough he could swallow it. It didn’t melt into a liquid like ice cream would, putting him at risk of aspirating and it was made with milk. There was nutrition in there and he liked it.  We both were happier when I helped him eat a few bites of the pureed food and as much of the pudding as he wanted.

There comes a time when we have to let go of what was and embrace what is.  Foods they once loved no longer taste good and when that happens many of them want only sweet things. Ask the person in your care what his or her favorite food is. You might be surprised and inspired by the answer.

The Dr .Phil Challenge Continues

Dr. Phil, I challenge you to use your huge resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to develop a program of grants to help caregivers follow your advice to accept help, rest, take care of themselves so they can continue to care for those they love so much that they are willing to sacrifice their health to for them.

 Blog readers: Here is the link to the Dr. Phil episode referenced in this post.  The segment on caregiving starts at around the 34 minute mark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXR1PddbrfQ

If you support my challenge to Dr. Phil to do more than offer advice to caregivers please let him know via Facebook and/or Twitter and any other social media sites you use and by sharing this post with everyone you know and asking them to do the same.

To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/

http://www.drphil.com/

@DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

The Agony of Relief

For seven years I was his constant companion. The one he railed against and accused of trying to poison him. The one he insisted was his best friend on the good days when he was lucid.

“Without her I’d be a gonner,” he would say.

In the beginning I was his chauffer taking him to his many doctor appointments. At first we took the 40 minute drive over the mountain to the VA hospital every three months.  As his various ailments, including dementia and Parkinson’s disease, progressed the appointments came more often.  Dysphagia came next. He could no longer swallow properly. His diet was limited to pureed food and thickened liquids. He had trouble swallowing his saliva. Aspiration pneumonia resulted in several long hospital stays weakening him further and requiring doctor visits once a month.  Then he had a heart attack and a pacemaker was inserted. Blood clots developed in his arm as a result. Frequent blood tests to monitor his clotting ability meant more trips to the hospital. Eventually we were going every week.

He continued to fail and eventually he entered home hospice care and we no longer made the drive.

He was hearing voices again and becoming more delusional as the dementia progressed and the medication he had been taking since his early twenties for schizophrenia began to lose effect.  Still, we prayed for a miracle comeback. He’d done it before. We’d think we were losing him, prepare for the worst and just when we began to lose hope he would gather the inner resources and strength that had defined him all of his life.

He’d gone from farm boy to defiant resister of the Gestapo who had taken over his country. He moved to America as young man to start a new life. He enlisted in the Army to serve his new homeland. It was while in the service he had his first psychotic break.

This brilliant man who spoke seven languages and held advanced degrees in literature and mathematics would never be the same. Electric shock treatments, ice baths, experimental treatments and increasingly strong antipsychotic drugs robbed him of memory and kept him sedated at all times. After thirteen years he was released. He married and raised two sons. He was a hero in so many ways.

As he began to fail I did too. Sleepless nights, constant stress, the guilt that came with knowing I couldn’t save him took its toll. The two of us were barely functioning.

I fed him. Changed his soiled Depends. Wiped his bottom. Bathed him. Dressed him. Sat up all night listening to him breathe.  The night he died Mike and I sat with him, holding his hand, doing everything we could to keep him comfortable.

In the early hours of his 83rd birthday he took his last breath.  This amazing man who had challenged me in so many ways and taught me so much about what real strength of character looks like was gone.

It took a while for the tears to come.

“What’s wrong with me?” I asked my husband.

And then it started. A slow trickle at first, followed by the first stabs of grief. I cried so long I wondered if it would ever stop. When it finally did, I wiped my eyes, blew my nose and started over again and again and again. It was only after I had exhausted my tears and my body that I could face the awful truth. It was not only grief that brought me to my knees. It was the agony of relief. His suffering was over and that meant I was finally free.

Intellectually I know my feelings were normal under the circumstances but there is still a little voice inside that continues to ask, What’s wrong with me?”

I continue to ask for your support and comments in response to the Dr. Phil Challenge to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to establish a grant to offer real help to caregivers most in need.

To Contact Dr.Phil and add your voice to mine click on the links below.

http://drphilfoundation.org/  http://www.drphil.com/   @DrPhil

https://www.facebook.com/drphilshow?fref=ts

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