Friday, April 18, 2014

Soap operas and God

The soap opera comes on as I mop the kitchen floor. An older female character intones, "In the sight of God ...," You think really. In a soap opera there is no happily ever after. After pursuing so many roadblocks for their love to mature, one immediately steps out on the other.

Canola flower
Being a caregiver is a mystery for most folks. You really don't know what it looks like until you do it. Plus it is different for different people.

Many people don't step up to the plate because they have past issues they can see past. For the one that does do the job, it takes awhile to accept this. At first there is anger. This same individual will usually see their help as needing to tell people how to do it.

You have to sit and take it because the usually elderly parent is thrilled to have you straightened out or more likely they just are so lonesome for this individual they will tolerate everything they have to say. The person you take care of may not recognize the sacrifice you are making.

I am lucky in that my parent recognized what I do for her. I take care of two handicapped siblings and my mother. My biggest job is being there when they need something. I fight for a little time to write or read a book. I have so many distractions and interruptions plus enough housework to keep me busy ten or twelve hours a day.

I made a huge mistake in not retiring earlier. I miss getting out and meeting the public. But you cannot hire good help. You get lucky sometimes but they are expensive. It was just cheaper for me to quit and do what I needed to pay people. Plus pare down my spending.

It's difficult to clean up. My mother starts cleaning which requires my assistance. I no longer have that energy level to push into the night cleaning. The filth that repulses me early in the morning really does not look that bad when I am pooped. In other words, I don't look at it.

I'm at a good place mentally. I know I set the tone. I have a family member that feels aggravated with the insular nature of our group. It has a name "Keeping the Peace". Not being a caregiver, they have no comprehension that my first goal is to keep everyone feeling happy.

This is why I say to anyone who is not physically taking care of frail family members is to make a place in you life to really help. Most who don't do not realize how much they are needed.

 I can tell you what real help is.

1. Ask the caregiver not the person who is being taken care of what is needed. The person doing the job knows how you can help. They really don't need you interfering and telling them how to do what they are doing. To give a perspective, how would you like the caregiver to come in your home and rearrange the furniture.

2. Actually do a suggestion of the caregiver. Don't tell them the person gets on their nerves and the caregiver has the nerves to take it. They don't. They just know the alternative the person they care for needs their time, help and patience.

3. If you can't help, keep your mouth shut. Don't let guilt make you criticize. There is a reason caregivers often die before the person they care for. The stress, loneliness is unbearable at times.

4. Don't complain the caregiver doesn't want to chat with you. They may have been up since 5 am and spent a big day running in circles. It takes time to rub a back, walk a dog, wash dishes, work as sous chef for an elderly parent who loves to cook. Sure I am more fun to talk to but these other people look forward to talking to you.

5. Recognize talking to me does not equate help. Don't get angry because I don't change how we do things because you might visit for fifteen minutes when you choose.

5. If you say you will come by for a few hours and watch the individual, be dependable and show up. One excuse happens, over and over, no one can make plans based on what you say. It's been awhile since mom has been OK to be alone. Yes she has her wits, it is more when she needs help, she needs it soon not later today or tomorrow.

6. Quit making suggestions over interesting jobs available or volunteer opportunities. I have a 40 plus hour a week and I am closer to 60 than I like.

7. Do not tell the person being cared for your requests. It makes them feel bad. The result is the caregiver stops telling you anything.

There are benefits of being a caregiver which will be a later post.  I know, I know, I have made the complaints why not the benefits.

There was a custodian I worked with whose mom had dementia and lived with her. At the time, I thought she had a sorry attitude. Ten years later I recognize she was burnt out. I burnt out as a teacher but needing a paycheck I pushed through.

I have had burnout with this phase of my life. A different sort of burnout but it comes across as a sorry attitude. Its called being human.

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