An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered. ~ G. K. Chesterton
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs there is, and I’m pretty sure the fierce animal love we have for our children is what makes it possible to parent day after day without drowning ourselves in the bath water.
So it’s sort of a surprise to discover the feelings are pretty much the same when caring for an aging parent. We’d do anything for them, many people do — and they pay for it with high stress, poor health, loss of income, and blinding exhaustion.
The Alzheimer’s Association says there are more than 15 million Americans providing unpaid care for persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. That’s about the population of Virginia and Washington combined, which is a lot of bath water.
I’m a long distance caregiver for my mom. While this brings it’s own set of challenges and a fair amount of guilt, I am not in the trenches like so many are, and so I really have no right to talk about caregiver stress. I get it. But if my mom lived with me, here’s what I would do to try and avoid excess stress. You can call this a “dream case scenario.”
- Join my mom in Alzheimer’s World
- Have a schedule
- Do what she loves
- Laugh & Find the funny
- Pick my battles
- Give positive energy
- Move her body
- Encourage & Compliment
- Get outside
- Give her “jobs”
- Take her to adult day care
For me personally? I would try to:
- Eat healthy
- “Sleep when the baby sleeps”
- Pray, Meditate, Pray
- Ask for help
- Accept help
- Scream when I’m alone in the car
Sometimes I imagine that my mother is living with me as I go about my day. What would she be doing while I make dinner, take a shower, or right now — while I’m on the computer? Having mom here would probably be like having a two-year-old again — she would be at my side, doing whatever I’m doing, but instead of asking curious sweet questions and me being an eager teacher, mom would be saying the same things over and over and over again and I would be counting my breaths. I mean no disrespect
There is so much time in between those pie in the sky items listed above. So. Much. Time.
Everything would shift. Mom would move to the top. Things wouldn’t get done. Movies wouldn’t be watched. Legs wouldn’t get shaved. Vacations wouldn’t be had. Stress would be hard to avoid.
I’m positive it would be the hardest thing I could ever do. But I’d like to believe I’d be grateful for the time with my mom with an understanding that it won’t last forever.
I’d like to find out if I’m right.
Are YOU a caregiver? What are thoughts on this?
Find “In The Alzheimer’s Storm” Part I HERE, and look for “The Alzheimer’s Storm: Family Conflict” in a later post.