Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Ghost of Halloweens Past

This year, for the first time ever, we did not turn on the porch lights to welcome the trick-or-treaters.  When C. was still in good health, he enjoyed decorating for every occasion and we both loved seeing the little ones in their costumes and giving them their Halloween treats.  Down in the storage area we have lots of Halloween decorations.  But this year C. is in ill health, and all I had time to do was put a fall wreath on the front door and three fake pumpkins (from Target) on the front porch. 
One of my stepdaughters brought me two beautiful chrysanthemum plants that I also put on the front porch; the the next morning deer had eaten them down to stubs.
I know that there are plenty of other houses that will turn on their porch lights to welcome the costumed children.  Hope next year ours will be one of them.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Caregivers' survival, part II

A few days ago I wrote about things to do to take care of the caregiver.  I realized later there are other things to add to the list:

HIRE SOME HELP (IF YOU CAN).   I have someone who comes every two weeks to help me catch up on cleaning and laundry.  This lets me have at least a little time to do things for myself.  As women, we have always taken care of so many things ourselves, but especially as we age it becomes difficult to accomplish as much as we once did.  And when we have to care for a loved one, our discretionary time becomes scarce.  So if you can afford it, hire someone to help you.
ACCEPT OFFERS OF HELP FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS.  It's easy to feel like we'd be imposing on someone who offers to help, or we're concerned that the person doesn't really mean it, and so we say no.  Learn to say yes, at least some of the time.  Have you ever helped someone?  Didn't it make you feel better?  Give others the same chance.

Give yourself a chance to relax a little.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Caregiver's survival guide

It's doubtful that any of us think we'll grow up to be a caregiver (caretaker?) but in our elder years many of us find ourselves with this responsibility.  Here are some of the things I think can help us withstand the stresses of caregiving:

1.  GET ENOUGH REST.  This is a tough one.  Our loved one often needs attention when we would rather sleep in.  So grab a nap when you can.  Today I napped while my guy was at therapy.  It was only for a few minutes, but it helped.

2.   EAT RIGHT.  When your loved one is being tube (bolus) fed, there's not much incentive to cook meals for yourself.  But falling back on junk food and ready-to-eat stuff can take a toll on your own health.  Let's face it, it's a lot easier to eat some cheese and crackers than to go to the store and get salad fixings, expecially when you're already tired.  But it is important to make an effort.  Even so-called "fast food" joints now have healthier selections.  Do your research, and choose wisely.

3.  MAKE TIME FOR YOUR PASSIONS.  You don't have a lot of time, that's for sure, but if you love to knit, or quilt, or paint, play music, read, do crosswords, or weed your garden -- whatever gives you pleasure, do it when you can.  If you love it, it will relax you and give you satisfaction.  Do it when your loved one is sleeping, or at dialysis, or at therapy, or whenever you have a little time to do something you love.  Even if it's only for a few minutes, it will be beneficial to you.

4.  KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.  My sister and I email almost every night and we talk every weekend.  My brother and I have lunch most Fridays.  My friends and I keep in touch by phone and email.  This keeps me from feeling isolated from the outside worl when circumstances keep me here at home.

5.  LAUGH!!!  This is so important.  There is always something in this life that we can find amusing, and laughing is one of the best ways to relieve tension and give one a feeling of well-being.  Make contacts with friends and family members who make you laugh.

6.  GET SOME FRESH AIR.  We caretakers must often spend a lot of time indoors.  But if we make an effort, we can find a minute here and there to step outside and take a deep breath and re-establish our connection with the natural world.  Even if it's raining, standing on a porch and taking a deep breath can be invigorating.

7.  ENJOY YOUR DOG/CAT/HAMSTER/FERRET.  Pets bring joy and comfort, especially to we "elders."  If you share your home with a critter, enjoy the love and affection you will give and receive.

for the caregivers