If you live a distance from your loved one and rarely actually see their living space, the holidays are a good opportunity to check up on them. Or, if you see them often, and have grown inured to the very gradual decline, now’s a good time to take a careful look around. There are clues to how well they are doing — are there dishes piled in the sink where there used to be none? (Or where they were at least washed and stacked in the drainboard?) Is the laundry piling up? Is there more clutter, which can make getting around the house unnecessarily hazardous (especially if balance is becoming an issue)? Is there incremental creep toward their doing little or nothing? All are clues to your loved one’s wellbeing and their ability to care for themselves. They may also be clues to their state of mind — depression can look like slovenliness. Either way, visiting during the holidays is an opportunity to note the clues your loved one may be inadvertently leaving to their ability to care for themselves and to their state of mind. Snooping lovingly will let you know. Read more:
When my father, who had a brain tumor and who was fiercely independent, slowly grew to be unreliable in the handling of his bills, etc., I worried about trying to strong-arm him into letting go of their management. A friend said to me, in a reference to the biblical ‘Honor the father and thy mother,’ etc.: “You ARE honoring him by taking care of things, even if he doesn’t understand that at this point. It helped a lot. And, he allowed me to do that after a little negotiation, which relieved us both.
For the adult children of a parent with Alzheimer’s who needs in-home care, there are tricks to it. Gary Barg, Editor-in-Chief of Today’s Caregiver magazine, offers a great example of how to help a loved one who has been highly functioning but who now needs help, accept that help. How you characterize it matters!
People who are not in a caregiving situation, especially those who have never (or more likely not yet) experienced it, want to be sympathetic, want to help. But while you can accept their sympathy, even their help, there is nothing like talking with, being with, and sharing stories and tips with those who are currently in the same boat. Those people who are actively caregiving. Their situations may be slightly different from yours — their loved one has terminal cancer; yours is dealing with advanced Parkinsons disease, for example, or yours has Alzheimer’s while theirs has vascular dementia — they are in the trenches along with you. Seeking out those in similar current situations lets you know in a way that nothing else does: You are not alone!
The article (link below) details how caregivers can help support each other.
It’s sometimes very difficult to step back into a family when you’ve purposely separated yourself from them. When aging parents need help caring for themselves, but the relationship with them has been fraught and you or your siblings face making decisions when what you really want to do is hide from the whole thing to protect yourself, you have a few choices. OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing) offers succinct, practical suggestions for approaching this dilemma. The article ( link below) in caregiver.com offers much the same approach — helpful and practical without sidestepping the difficulties. It’s never easy, but remember: you’re not alone.
See the eight practical guidelines offered in the article.
Gary Barq’s memory of his Hungarian grandfather, who worked as a painting contractor in his own business until 80. When Gary’s grandfather developed Alzheimer’s the family who adored him, figured out a way to take care of him without destroying his dignity or their lives. It’s a touching story and one worth reading. “Ok, We Go Now” – Caregiver.com
You can get copies of OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing) through caregiver.com or through amazon.com.
So often, it’s coulda/shoulda with caregivers. No matter how much they do, they seem to feel as though it’s never enough– perhaps because our loving inclination is to try to heal or solve the problems our loved one is having. Even though we know that we can’t do it, there is always that nagging feeling that you might be able to if only you’d try harder, give up more of yourself, your life, found something — anything — that could do it. What we know in our mind is often at war with what we struggle with in our gut. It’s not healthy for either us or our loved one, and is, ultimately, not helpful to the situation. But even if you can’t completely dominate that nagging guilt, you can, with logic, persistence and support of those who have been there done that, assuage it.
2016 Friendly Caregiver Awarded book, OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing) offers suggestions for balancing guilt with reality.
I’ve never been a believer in thinking up New Year’s resolutions because for one thing, they’re usually the stuff I’ve been trying to accomplish or delete all year long, and stressing over it during the last few days of every year, when life is stressful enough, just seems counterproductive to me. Having said that, some of my friends make them, and find the annual deadline helpful. Some even achieve them! Today’s Caregiver Magazine (who gave us an award for our book — thanks thanks!) has the same kind of suggestions that we, and virtually every other person who has done/seen or been recruited into caregiving subscribes to. If you’re a January 1-resolution-person, AND are a caregiver (though many of them work just as well for those who are simply trying to improve our own lives and live the best way we can day by day), they’re spot-on.