Caregivers

GIFTS FOR MOMS AND STAY-AT-HOME CAREGIVERS

warpped present

Thoughtfulness is appreciated whether one is a mother or caregiver.

 May 16 2014 — I recently read a blog by Megan Tietz directed at making  “Stay-at-home moms” happier. As I noted all of the nice things friends and family can do for these hard-working and dedicated women I couldn’t help but think about a whole bevy of women who are “Stay-at-home caregivers.”

 LOTS IN COMMON

Their jobs are similar, but more than likely the two are separated by decades.  The moms, of course, are caring for little people who can’t care for themselves.  A.D. Caregivers, who were likely stay-at-home moms spending earlier years caring for a young family are now caring for older loved ones who can’t care for themselves either.

 ALL ALONE AND SOMETIMES LONELY

 Furthermore, both jobs require a certain amount of confinement in the home (also known as cabin fever) which makes their job a bit isolated and often lonely. It’s been said from moms of small ones that their days of excitement are often topped off with a lunch of peanut butter/jelly sandwishes and the stimulating conversation of a three-year old.

 While rearing the next generation, though, moms can thrill as the children learn, grow and develop. In contrast the Alzheimer’s caregivers have no delightful or encourageing rewards. In caring for the elderly who are losing memory the experience is laced with sadness and often sorrow as the loved one slowly fades into the ghostly and lost world of Alzheimer’s.  As with rearing children, caregiving is a labor of love:  An unselfish choice made with love and devotion. Continue reading

Originally posted 2014-05-17 04:06:16.

THE ALZHEIMER’S WORLD AND CHANGES

 

Sad globe with Alzheimer's.

Living in the Alzheimer’s world is confusing to both those who have the disease and their caregivers.

LIFE IS JUST DIFFERENT IN THE ALZHEIMER’S WORLD

 It’s different now.  Holidays are different.  Life is different.  Our world is different. We now live in the World of Alzheimer’s, a place we would have never chosen.  But then, we don’t always get to choose the road where life takes us.  However, we do adjust.  That’s what one of Ken’s caregivers Crizaldo said, when we talked about world conditions and the never-ending problems constantly on the horizon. “No matter where we are or what happens,” he said, “it’s how we adjust that’s important.”

 LEARN AS WE GO

Living in the Alzheimer’s world is always a learning situation.  We learn early on that our loved one is constantly changing often taking on different personalities, some we don’t much like, but that’s not the point.  The loved one is still our loved one and the disease is taking them into a place they don’t much like either.  Our friend Ila of long ago must have known somehow that she was falling into a deteriorating condition.  There were times when she would ask her husband or friends, “What’s happening to me?”  My own mother would say, “Something’s wrong with me.”  Gripping onto who they had been, both women were puzzled as they recognized changes which must have been a very frightening experience for them.  As friends, family and cargivers we need to know how to ease their worries and set their minds to rest.  When memory is illusive it’s all right to change the subject.  If they have been diagnosed then we can just blame it onto the disease.  If not the patient can feel at ease knowing they are scheduled to see their doctor.

 ACTIVITIES FOR THE PATIENT

 Check your community.  My friend Darline goes to adult daycare three times during the week. This is not only good for the AD patient, it’s good for her daughter caregiver to have a break.  Activities at daycare may resemble nursery school, but that’s all right.  Whatever keeps the Alzheimer’s patient occupied is a gift and just what they need.

 KEEP IT SIMPLE

 At home activities can be something the patient has been doing all their life.  I gave my mom, who had been an expert seamstress and needle woman, a small square of quilting so she could stitch the layers together.  Unfortunately, she had lost her sewing skills and complained about the needle and the thread, and then handed the project back to me.   Perhaps I had overestimated her capabilities and it was too complex at that point in her disease so I gave her a box of trim to untangle.  This she did with great relish.  It was a challenge which she understood and did by gently undoing knots and tangles, and then she rolled each piece into a ball. When one thing doesn’t work, then try something else.

ACCEPTANCE

 Yes, life with Alzheimer’s is different, but it’s when we finally accept where we are and where our loved one is, that together we can move on.  I try to think of this experience as my Alzheimer’s husband’s caregiver as just another chapter in our book of life. Remember they can’t help what has happened to them so it’s our responsibility to help them through their confusing Alzheimer’s world. 

Alzheimer’s World photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

 

Originally posted 2014-02-02 18:46:45.

The Suprising Optimism of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

This gallery contains 1 photo.

 

Lipizzaner Stallions

In reality, going to see the Lipizzaner Stallions would be impossible, but my optimistic self sometimes forgets.

WHEN KEN GETS BETTER

November 15, 2014 –  As Ken’s caregiver for the past ten years I know with certainty that he isn’t going to get better, yet sometimes even myflash- optimism surprises me.  Of course he has some days that are better than others, but in the grand scheme of life and fate my husband is deep into Alzheimer’s disease.  And yet, there are times when I do forget – not really forget – but have a flash-moment every so often when I think of his illness as simply a bad cold or some other temporary setbnack.  You remember times when you  thought of things in the future when you said to yourself, “When he/she gets better we’ll go here or there, and “He would really enjoy seeing that, or he always  said he wanted to try sushi, especially with that super hot sauce.

NATURAL FEELINGS OF OPTIMISM

 I believe it’s part of the human psyche  to be optimistic about the future and to think of times when things are better – at least things being better — if not the person.

 Recently when I have watched “Wheel Of Fortune” and the player wins a holiday at some distant exotic and exciting get-away island I think to myself.  Ken would enjoy a week there, and the flash-thought is immediately followed by, “ When he gets better we’ll have to check it out.”

 LOTS OF PLACES TO GO AND THINGS TO SEE AND DO

 Several years ago I noticed numerous TV ads for the Lipizzaner Stallion shows.  A special breed of horse which has been trained in almost ballet performances where riders and horses are spectacularly graceful together.  World famous they travel throughout Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States.  Every time the ads were shown my mind dipped and I thought Ken would really enjoy watching that show. We had often talked about getting tickets in the past, but never did.  So, when he gets better, we’ll go. These thoughts, are momentary and brief because reality quickly sets in reminding me that my husband is deep into Alzheimer’s and cannot go with me, nor can we explore the new sushi restaurant that just opened uptown.

BEING REALISTIC, BUT WITHOUT SADNESS

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, It might have been.”

But I don’t dwell on what might have been lamenting what Ken and I cannot do any more.  I strive to recall the good times we’ve had together and offer my gratitude prayers for what has been positive rather than dwell in what was possible had Ken not slipped away into Alzheimer’s disease.  Because this is reality and this is the moment, and this is where we live right now so it would be foolish to spend time and energy lamenting what we couldn’t do and can’t control.Yet, I am certain there will be times when something exciting comes my way and my underlying optimistic flash-thought, “When Ken gets better we’ll do that,” will run through my mind because that’s who I am.

Originally posted 2013-11-17 04:11:29.

GOOFING OFF — A CAREGIVERS RESOLUTION

AN ALZHEIMER’S CAREGIVER’S RESOLUTION

Cat hiding under a blanket

A playful game of peek-a-boo with Gouda the cat helped me make a spring resolution to schedule time for “goofing off” and taking better care of me.

 

April 26, 2013 — I haven’t made New Year’s resolutions for many years, but I have decided to make a resolution this spring: to take better care of me.  As a caregiver that is often the most difficult of all tasks.  Being the first assistant to Ben and Crizaldo in caring for my Alzheimer’s husband Ken I do manage to visit friends, meet people for lunch and see some of the latest movies, but the one area which I have neglected terribly is taking care of the physical me.

 GYM TIME

 When Ken was well, especially after he retired and before AD we went to the gym and actually worked out three times a week.  Plus, he (some days coaxing me to go along) walked the dogs along the bay. Last year I managed to get to the gym all of a dozen times, if that many, although it was and is on my Monday, Wednesday and Friday to-do list.  Even though it remains at the top of my TDL the gym does manage to slip by the wayside when the list gets too long.

 At one time I also did a half-hour workout on my living room floor, but even that has been dropped from my Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday routine.  Nor have I been walking.  All of these activities have fallen into an “I don’t want to and I don’t care” bad-attitude phase.  I have asked me many times the “Why” question, but haven’t found a good answer.

 I JUST DON’T CARE

Having lunch one day with my friend Madalyn I mentioned that I really didn’t care that my car needed some TLC, even though I felt a little embarrassed about picking her up with so much grime on the outside of my reliable vehicle. 

“I just don’t care,” I apologized, and then repeated the IJDC about a few other things on the list.

“Do you know that not caring can be a sign of depression and stress,” she said.

I have always thought I had a good handle on the depression demon and actually don’t feel too stressed.  However, I must admit that I have been hampered about getting things done because I have fallen into the habit of not caring.  Thinking I would start to care again once the warm weather arrived, the days grew longer and our skies were clear and blue, it was easy to procastinate.  I was certain I would snap right back into wanting to get the car washed – and caring – but it wasn’t happening.  Perhaps Madalyn was right.  Could I kick the “I just don’t care” attitude, feel better and less stressed if I could get beyond this rebelliousness?  Possibly, but how? 

A HAPPY VISIT 

Kristina dropped by for a quick visit and to give Ken his monthly vitamin B shot.  She is a very “up” person and right now she lives her life with her secondary goal as having fun.  That doesn’t mean to say she doesn’t earn a living.  She does and enjoys her work as a caregiver for disabled people, and has been wonderful, at times, helping with her Alzheimer’s grandfather.  Right now, though, she and her boyfriend are pretty much into amusement when they aren’t working, and she mentioned looking forward to the weekend so she could goof off.

“Hummmm,” I hummed, how long has it been since I goofed off wondering if I still knew how.  Ken, before AD, knew how to goof off and was an expert.  Watching sports on TV was goofing off and visiting with the neighbors instead of cutting the lawn were two of his favorite goof off non-activities.  I’m not sure if wives were as good at this talent as are their husbands, especially if life dishes them a full plate of Alzheimer’s complete with accessorized ramifications. there lives would perk alone like the early morning brew — bubbly and strong.   I’ll have to think about resurrecting this goof-off idea.

 SILLINESS IS GOOD

Gouda the cat and I have a continuing contest over “Whose bed (chair) is this anyway?”  She either occupies my computer chair or the bed after I get up.  So far it’s a standoff.  Going in the other day to make up the bed I pulled at the covers which immediately awakened the ball-of-fur feline.  Instead of leaving her comfort zone she attacked the moving blankets.  I pulled and she dove into the exchange. “Fun,” her action declared.

My arm went under several layers of blankets for protection from her sharp, needle-point claws which were in full flight as I snaked my hand in every which direction across the bottom sheet.  She was doing what cat’s do best — chasing  a moving object.  I reacted with full participation – always guarding against Gouda’s prowess skills and weapons which now included teeth and her back feet.  Bounding here and there she was all over the “map.” My armored arm, hand and fingers became her prey as she challenged them from on top of the swathed surface.  After several minutes I said to myself, “Good grief, I’m playing with the cat.”  Do you suppose that could be considered goofing off?  Playing?  Wasting time?  Indulging in nonsense?  If that’s what it’s called – then this could be the start of something big.  I’ll put that on my to-do list: schedule goof-off time — ten minutes to play with the cat — well, maybe at least five.

Originally posted 2013-04-27 12:08:07.

ALZHEIMER’S AND BUDDY

lonely desert road

A lonely stretch of desert highway similar to where Buddy had his accident

 

For the most part I dislike nicknames.  When I met Ken he was introduced to me as “Bud.”  Bud, I thought, he doesn’t look like a Bud.  Actually, I didn’t even know what a Bud was supposed to look like.  Perhaps someone small, around seven with no front teeth, but this Bud had his teeth and was over six feet, and rather handsome.  I just knew I didn’t like the name, Bud.  In making further conversation he mentioned that his uncles back in Colorado liked to call him Buckshot.

NICKNAMES GALORE

Ugh, that was worse than Bud was my second thought: “Buckshot?  Why?”

“Just nicknames,” he continued.

“Do you have a real name,” I questioned?

“Ken,” he answered.  “My full name is Kenneth Richard Romick,” but most everyone calls me Bud.  All of my life I have been Bud, and my sister Loretta has been Sis.”

“Do you mind if I call you Ken,” I asked. Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-04-14 00:21:22.

Alzheimer’s Caregiving and More Service

March 29, 2013 – Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is more often than not just about all a caregiver can do.  Actually, that’s enough. Yet, outside of our AD world life goes on and for others there still is a need for someone who cares.

Sermon on the Mount

The greatest example of service that we can follow.

As the primary caregiver of my husband there is so much more involved than just the daily seeing and caring for his needs.  Still living in our home and having rental property to help with our income, it is a business requiring management and maintenance. That was something Ken handled as well as paying all the bills and keeping track of expenditures for income tax purposes, and so on and on.  I hadn’t properly appreciated him until I had to take on all of his responsibilites leaving not a great deal of time for doing much of anything else. Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-03-30 18:31:28.

AN ALZHEIMER’S LOVE STORY – AND BEYOND

Man and woman in a canoe.

Borrowed from a Facebook post. Love the quote attached to it.

March 15, 2013 — Every so often we run across a story that touches our heart in many ways.  I have a lot of friends on Facebook; that social media thing which could command much of our time if allowed, but today I am pleased to have skimmed through and found my cousin Sara had added an Alzheimer’s video to my page, a story about an older male  caregiver, responsible  for his sweet wife.  I stopped and watched “Bill and Glad: a love story.” Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-03-16 21:44:11.

TONS OF TATTOOS AND ALZHEIMER’S

January 18, 2013 — Disclaimer up front:  Tattoos have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s.  However, Ken does have both.  Not tons of tattoos, but more than the average sailor from WWII.  He also continues his journey into the dense fog of dementia’s number one disease.

tattoo on shoulder

After just one tattoo Ken’s mom made him promise, “no more.”  16 tattoos later he obeyed.

A few evenings ago as I sat on the couch next to Ken’s bed watching Wheel of Fortune while my husband, having completed another day in his battle with AD, settled in for a good night’s sleep.  He turned a little, raised one arm high into the air, pulled at his sleeve until it fell past the elbow, and then scratched where it itched.  I glanced over to make sure he didn’t need anything more for his comfort.  In doing so, my eyes drifted to the array of pictures covering the  aging skin of his arm, and I thought of our third meeting (not a date) at my company picnic.

Ken didn’t work there, but our mutual friend Jim did and invited him to come along.  The men, already relaxed after a few beers in the sun, were tossing around a football on a nearby lawn.  Off to the side a pile of sports shirts grew as the players threw off their superfluous clothing in favor of either bare chests or white tees with a crew neck.  Good grief, I thought to myself, both of Ken’s arms are covered with tattoos. I did not know about his tattoos before the picnic and the discovery reminded me that I hated the ugly markings with  an unbelievable passion. Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-01-19 08:02:18.

ALZHEIMER’S AND ROSIE’S DENTAL DILEMA

September 21, 2012 — My mother-in-law, Rose, was one of the fortunate ones when it came to teeth: strong, straight

dentist working on woman

Despite strong healthy teeth and frequent dental exams, some people with Azheimer’s end up with dentures, another problem for caregivers to deal with.

and cavity free.  As my dentist Dr. T. had explained she was blessed with the good saliva that worked to keep the bacteria from making inroads — cavities — in her teeth.  However, as she neared 50 all of her teeth were extracted due to gum disease – like my dad who I wrote about previously.

LEARNING DENTAL HYGIENE

Ken’s father, Nick, managed to keep all of his pearly whites with only one missing when he died.  That was quite an accomplishment for someone born in 1892.  As a poor immigrant boy of 14 who came to America during the 1906 immigrant rush Nick was unfamiliar with the word, use or sight of a toothbrush.  Joining the U. S. Marines ten years later the Corps soon taught their new recruit the meaning of hygiene in all aspects.  So for Nick, even in his later years of Alzheimer’s, lucked out in the dental department. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-09-22 07:03:26.

THE ALZHEIMER’S BURDEN? AND WHO’S IN CONTROL

By Ann Romick

old woman carrying a burden

A major concern for many people with Alzheimer’s is not being a burden.

August 17, 2012 — When abilities began to fade most healthy older people realize that changes are ahead.  “We don’t want to be a burden to you,” said my mother as the two of us talked about the realities of growing old — when she and my father would become less able. Certainly not an original quote, but one probably spoken by all aging parents to their children when faced with old age or their life is threatened by some sinister disease such as any under the Dementia Umbrella.  For me and my husband Ken three out of four parents developed Alzheimer’s  in their last years. Ken makes number four.

BURDEN?

So what defines a burden?  “Well!” snipped one of my sisters from out of state, “If you felt that caring for our parents was such a burden you shouldn’t have done it.”  I wanted to ask, “Who else?”  Sometimes being snippy in return is just a way with some siblings, especially after years of caring for our parents. Instead I zipped my lip. Lip zipping would have pleased mom and dad.

Definitions include a heavy weight, load, or encumbrance of sorts, possibly a drain on finances, and definitely one on emotions and physical strengths.  Does it mean additional work for the selected caregiver?  Absolutely!  A change in routine, lifestyle, conceivably a strain on family relationships – even strains on a marriage, and yet some people ask, “Is it a burden?”  Of course it’s a burden – a very heavy load – but one accepted with grace and love for any of our loved ones who have carried burdens for us from time to time – or not.  It’s love that lightens the load. So tempered with that love, a good attitude and lots of prayers, for those who are so inclined, most caregivers get through – often struggling – but we do get through. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-08-17 23:40:37.

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