You’ve probably heard that the East Coast has been smacked with severe snow storms. If you live in a warm place, you may be picturing stranded cars and ice dams. But if you’re also caring for someone with dementia, you probably realize that slippery roads are just a sliver of the weight that weather adds to care.
For the past five weeks, I’ve had to run to the drugstore whenever the roads were clear to make sure we didn’t run out of essential stuff. We need a constant supply of wipes, medications, sanitary gloves, and Depends. People who’ve never done this work can snicker all they want. But carrying four economy sized bags of adult diapers to the car makes you a much stronger person (in MANY ways).
One of my biggest problems has been injury prevention. I hurt my shoulder back in June and have almost healed it several times. But every time it snows, I have to shovel a double wide wheelchair path so my mom can get to her medical transit bus. In a good week, I do this once and my shoulder has a few days to recover. But when the snows arrive back to back, I’m out there slinging all the time. In fact, this morning my lower back asked for a legal separation.
In the lulls between storms I must race to the supermarket, too. My tiny mom has a tremendous appetite. Applesauce — loved by babies and old folks alike — is something we stockpile. Same for sweet potatoes and fish. I can roast these things into soft nutritious meals my mother loves. Weather can’t get between me and her food supply.
Then of course there are the heating issues. I resolve this by lugging buckets to fill our coal burner every day. Last Thursday morning, it was 12 degrees below zero when I started making breakfast. Of the seven days in the week, the mercury dipped below zero at least five times. Mom just looks at me and laughs when I tell her the temperature. As long as the house stays warm, she’s content.
I ask myself to be strong every day. I do yoga to knead the aches and pains out of my joints. And I meditate to help me focus on what’s good in this situation. I’m lucky that I have the kind of job that allows me to care for my mom at home. And I’m grateful every day that my mother’s impairments haven’t soured her disposition. I know many others who must care for family members who are agitated or violent. We have been spared this. We are lucky.
So, as I finish this explanation of our challenges, I’m wondering how the weather gets in the way of your care plans. Does the drought in California keep you from washing bedclothes? How about the humidity down south? Does it affect your loved one’s temperament? It seems like it will be winter here for a long time to come, so please send a note to share what’s happening everywhere else.