Why You?

Often one person in a family becomes the caregiver and the others go on with their lives as before, offering little or no help.

Why did you decide to be the one who gives so much?

In my case people were surprised to discover that I was a caregiver for my father-in-law. “You mean he’s not your father?” they would say. Surprise evident in their tone.

They were even more amazed when told he was my husband’s stepfather and not a blood relative to either of us.

“Why would you do this? You must be a saint.”

I am no saint. I am simply a woman who saw a family member in need and did my best to help. I didn’t know how hard it would be or how long it would last. How could I have known? But even if I had I would not have changed a thing.

Some day I will need help and I hope someone will be there for me.

Families are not created only through DNA. We marry, we bear children, we divorce and remain connected. Families feud over things big and small and still  remain connected.  We create unique families through adoption, friendship, and commitments of all kinds.

Through this blog I reach out  to offer support and understanding. To let you know you are not alone, that you are part of a vast family of caregivers.

Why did you decide to join this tribe?

 

 

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Remembering Rodger

Rodger Carducci

 July 26, 1926 – July 26, 2009

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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

 

On the Run Today

Thank You For CaregivingIf you are alone in caring for a family member or friend. If you are feeling unappreciated. Please remember that the Imperfect Caregiver is working for change by speaking out. I am very proud to be a caregiver advocate and today I have two wonderful opportunities to speak for caregivers.

This morning I was filmed and interviewed by Voice of America. In May I was a participant in the Human Book Project held at Gum Spring Library in Aldi, VA. My purpose in being there was to  speak to “readers” who checked out Human Books to learn about their unique life experiences.  I spoke about what is closest to my heart, being a caregiver for a seriously ill family member.  Today another “reader” interviewed me and the short video will appear on the Voice of America website in about three weeks. I will post the link once the video goes live. You will also hear from another Human Book, Maimah Karmo  speak about her very different story of strength and service to others.  I am proud have met Maimah  through the Human Book project and now have her as  my friend.

This evening I will be speaking to people at  the Purcellville Baptist Church in Purcellville VA. about caregiving and how they can help caregivers in our community.

We need more advocates and since I have not yet heard from Dr. Phil in response to my Dr. Phil Challenge, I am very interested in speaking with many more church and civic groups.

Last month I spoke with members of  the Dulles South Rotary Club in Aldie, VA  and they are now developing a service project on behalf of caregivers. (More on that soon.)

I am available to speak to groups  in person or via Skype or FaceTime depending on distance and time available. There is never a charge for these events.

All you need to do is contact me via email bcarducci@Comcast.net to arrange a date and time.

Blessed Be Caregivers

 

 

Today It’s All About You

how do you feel todayKnow that I think of you every day. And pray for you each night.  You are not alone and I truly want to know how you feel today. In fact, I invite you to comment and share your thoughts, frustrations, rants, moments of clarity and grace, the funny stuff and the heartbreaking interactions that bring on that insidious guilt we have all experienced.

Blessed be, caregivers.  Sharing your story may help a caregiver who is feeling very alone.

Join me in urging Dr. Phil to use his resources and the Dr. Phil Foundation to create a grant to provide help and respite for 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

 

 

I Prefer to Take Life One Panic Attack at a Time

panic attackPanic attacks, migraine headaches, clumps of my hair clogging the shower drain. These are all things I experienced as a caregiver.  Stress was sapping my mental and physical reserves as his conditions worsened. I needed help.  People said, “Take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise. Get enough rest.”

Sure, I thought.  I’ll get right on that.

Are you kidding me?  If I were to be true to my instincts right now this page would be filled with some very strong, unbecoming language describing how useless advice is when it isn’t followed up with the resources to make a difference.

I’ve issued a challenge to Dr. Phil but it is also for family and friends of caregivers everywhere. The people caring for others now will be the ones needing care next. How dire their health issues will be are being greatly influenced by the degree of stress they are experiencing during the weeks, months, and years they are giving so much of themselves. You can make a difference.

If you can give much help, give much. If you can give only a little, give a little. A warm meal, short nap, a visit now and then will be appreciated more than you know. A full night’s rest is a blessing. Time to go to the grocery store and take in the aroma of fresh fruit could be like a vacation for someone who hadn’t been able to do it in months.

Please help!

More Comments for Dr. Phil in response to the Dr. Phil challenge:

Ann  – Comment: I agree. I am a cancer patient and my energy level is very low.

My husband is the caregiver for me and his mom who has dementia. I would love to see some real programs that would help caregivers cope. My husband is a loving caring person but I know at times it seems very overbearing to him.

Tammie Marett – Comment: I take care of my bedridden husband. He has no other family and we live over. 8 hours from mine who couldn’t help much anyway.  I would love to take your advice bit its all the same mumbo jumbo. There is no money for caregivers. My husband is a vet.  They offer me 2 respite days a month of only 6 hours each time.  You offered no solutions just the same tired advice.  This problem is going to get larger as the baby boomer generation ages.

Kristi Simmons – Comment: I am living the Oreo life. My husband and I are caregivers for my mother for the last 5 years.  I also have a 21 year old a 10 year old and a 6 year old.  My husband and I both work 40 hours a week. I have 3 siblings. My oldest brother takes care of my mom’s finances, which creates its own tension sometimes.  My other two siblings do nothing to help and often feel like it’s our responsibility to care for mom since we live with her rent free.  They don’t understand the mental and physical drain this can be.  We’re lucky, my mom is good natured and fairly easy to care for the majority of the time, but it’s hard to be caregiver, mother, teacher and wife 24/7 365.   We’ve been lucky enough to have friends that mom is comfortable enough with to stay with her so we caN take short trips with our kids occasionally.  Unless you’ve done this you have no clue how exhausting it is

Kathleen Tingler – Comment: I agree with your take on offering advice and not an alternative.  I am a full time care taker and have no one that wants to step up and help me find a way to catch a break even for an hour or so a week.

Rhonda Partin-Sharp – Comment: Oh, I agree with this article – gives us caregivers a way to take care of ourselves – when you are going on two hours of sleep a night because that is the ONLY way to get just the priorities done because you are taking care of two elderly parents – don’t tell me to get sufficient sleep.  That’s insane.  We need to stop telling the caregivers what to do better and need to start telling the lazy family members (every caregiver support group will tell you that it usually ends up being one person doing it all with not only no help from the family but judgment and pressure from the family) what they need to to do help.

Shannon Watstler – Comment: Yes please, caregivers do not always need unsolicited advise, just real quality help ! Many friends & family abandoned, compare their normal every day situations & give excuses “why they can’t help” or “they just want to know how the patient is & then have to go”. It’s a exhausting & never ending job, non-paying & sometimes you truly feel hopeless. If I ever have to go thru this again, I will def do things a little different & ask for more help. many people don’t handle situations of thinking about their own mortality-that’s sad ! How would they like to be in the same situation & hear excuses of why someone can’t help or just abandonment. It’s a lonely journey that no one understands except those that go thru it & are forced to deal with it head on every day even when they’d enjoy a few minutes of time for themselves.

Dawn D. Ames – Comment: This comment was right on.  My husband needs 24/7 care.  Getting out to get my owe scripts and groceries is extremely  difficult.  My children and a few friends try to help, but with his needs, the it is not always possible.  It has been three years.  It would be nice to have a couple of hours for church or to go out with friends in those times when I feel safe enough to leave him. Thanks Bobbi.

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

Good Morning Caregivers – I May Not Be Perfect

I may not be perfect

If I am able to help you understand anything by way of this blog or my book I hope it is this:

I AM NOT PERFECT AND THAT’S OKAY

We are human.  We become angry sometimes. We feel resentful when others go off on vacation or simply out to dinner and we can’t. We get sick and tired of hearing the same question over and over. We need sleep and get cranky when we don’t get enough. Our heart breaks when the one we are trying so hard to help accuses us of mistreating them or stealing from them. Or worse yet, don’t remember who we are.

Some days we want to give in, give up, and let go so badly we nearly fall apart. And then we feel terrible. We doubt ourselves and become convinced we are bad people.

We are not. We are the caregivers. We are not perfect. We are human. We give all we have and then give some more. Y

You, like me, are not perfect but no one is.  You are a caregiver and because of you the one in your care will have many more good days than he or should would have had otherwise.

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Where Have My Friends Gone?

friend therapy

Being a caregiver for a loved one is lonely. From morning til night, and often well beyond, caregivers are on call even when our loved ones demand we leave them alone. We become the bad guys. The woman or man who insists they bathe when they don’t want to and serve them food when they have no wish to eat. Our parents or our spouses resent being treated like children. Their losses are devastating and they resent being reminded of them. Days go by when they don’t say a word. Some can’t. Others were told long ago not to speak to strangers and that is who we have become.

Knowing we are busy and often unable to leave the house our friends drift away. Not intentionally. It simply happens. They visit a few times only to find us distracted and harried, on constant alert for a call from our loved one or the sound of that horrible thump that signals another fall.  Sometimes we cry and then refuse to follow well intentioned advice to take time for ourselves and get enough rest. We aren’t as much fun as we used to be. I get it.  But still we need you. If only for a few minutes now and then we need you to come by and share a cup of coffee with us. We need a bit of adult conversation. Having a friend say, “Tell me about it,” and then sit back and listen as we speak is a moment of respite we cherish.

Please, even if you only have a few moments, be a friend to a caregiver today. Someone is waiting.


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Published by Open Books Press – $15.95 Print $2.99 e-book.

 

NaBloPoMo November 2014

 

 

Good Morning Caregivers

It’s your turn again. Please tell me how you are doing. If you’d like to share a bot of your story, please do. It may help another caregiver.

how do you feel today

Good Morning Caregivers

 

walk away or try harder

“I didn’t sign up for this.”

“I can’t do it another day.”

If this is how you feel, it’s okay.  Trying harder isn’t always the answer. There may come a day when you have done all you can and it’s time to make the decision to move the person in your care into a facility better equipped to cope with their growing needs.

Please know that if that time comes you are not giving up on them. You are still the most important person in his or her life. What you are doing is making sure this person continues to get the best care you can provide. You will be able to regain the strength to see this through.  You will visit. You will continue to be their best advocate. You have not failed. You are a true hero.

Be kind to yourself this day and know you are not alone.

 

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You Don’t Have to be Saint

selflessness

During the time I was a caregiver and even now, after reading Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver, people tell me I must be a saint.  Always I assure them that I am not now nor I have I ever been saintly. Rodger would have been one of the first to agree with me.

None of us are saints. We are people dealing with dreadful situations brought on by terrible diseases. There is reason to be angry and resentful and less than perfect.  There are even more reasons to quit. To walk away and let someone else deal with it. There is only one reason to carry on. Someone we care about needs care. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Maybe there is no one else is able to do it. Maybe no one else is willing to do it. The reasons are many.  But you are the one doing it and you are the one putting the needs of another before your own. That is not saintliness. There is no expectation of perfection or being prayerful or holy.  That is selflessness.

Selflessness is what keeps you going in all your glorious imperfection. Making it up as you go along. Stumbling and picking yourself up as you do the best you can.  Reaching out to the person in your care at the start of every new day. Yes, you are the embodiment of selflessness and probably no more a saint than I am and that’s a very good thing.

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