Author Archives: Colleen Davis

Caregiver Memories

Caregiver memories include a lifetime of our own experiences, plus the things we remember for our loved ones. Many of us keep photos around to remind them of who they were and what they did before #dementia struck. Autumn makes me nostalgic about these moments from the past. Is it the beauty of changing leaves or the fact that Fall signals the end of something?

caregiver memories

Today I took my camera and drove to one of my favorite spots. Weissport Canal lies at the southern end of a 22-mile trail along the Lehigh River. The Canal, which is part of the #D&L Trail, is a short ride from my house. Many bikers, walkers, and families exercise along the canal path which is bordered by water on both sides. One bank faces the canal, which is home to a flock of well-fed ducks, some tortoises, fish, and lots of water fowl. The opposite side faces the rushing waters of the Lehigh. The end of the path offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

Caregiver Memories: make more now!

I always find beauty at the Weissport Canal. Sometimes it’s in the shape of the trees or their reflections on the water. Whatever I see is enhanced by memories of strolling along that path with my mother when #dementia first struck. She attended a program in a town near Weissport. Sometimes I’d pick her up at the end of the day and stop at the canal on our way home. The ducks swim all around the canal and many parents bring their children to see them. They delighted my mother most when they were quacking up a lot of noise. She loved to watch the adult birds teach their little ducklings how to swim. Once in a while, I’d remember to bring some bird food so she could feed them. That made her especially happy.

When you begin taking care of someone with #dementia, you never expect events from those early scary days to become cherished memories. The sudden arrival of symptoms fills you with dread as you struggle to get a diagnosis. Every day you fear that the absolute worst is about to occur. But if I could give any advice to a new #caregiver, it would be to focus on the simple activities that a dementia patient can still enjoy. Take those walks by the canal, or in your local park. Notice the changing leaves or any beauty you can still share. When nostalgia strikes in the future, it will help you a lot to have good memories on file.

Caregivers Can’t Control Things

Caregivers can’t control things. We often learn this the hard way. I couldn’t write for a month because of chaos in our household. Now that we’ve overcome recent challenges, I’m grateful that our problems have not been worse.

Caregivers can't control things

We were hit by illness. Our aides had crises in their own families. I had to address economic logjams that made all the other problems harder to solve. When things go wrong, it’s way more difficult to care for a person with #dementia. But as I consider recent events, I realize that we are very, very lucky.

Health Challenges for caregivers

*******  A few weeks ago Mom was in terrible pain. She can’t speak to tell us what’s wrong. To get our attention, she grinds her teeth. It’s excruciating to hear someone grind their teeth for hours. Fortunately, we were able to narrow my mother’s list of possible problems down to  a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). We are LUCKY to have caring, skilled people around who PAY ATTENTION AND UNDERSTAND my mother’s issues.

******* After we figured out what was wrong, our hospice nurse was able to get the presiding physician to prescribe liquid antibiotics for my mom. This was a tremendous help because it’s so difficult to transport Mom to a doctor. She can’t stand or walk. Getting her into a vehicle is really hard. WE ARE ALSO VERY GRATEFUL THAT MOM HAS #HEALTH_INSURANCE, so the cost of her medicine was low.

Logistical problems that derail care

******* While we were dealing with the UTI problem, our refrigerator failed. The fridge was just seven years old, but it was beyond repair. I had to feed my mother small, frequent meals because the antibiotics gave her stomach problems. When stomach pain began, she started grinding her teeth again! Thank goodness I was able to drive to Lowe’s and buy a fridge during their appliance sale. I thought about the people in Puerto Rico who were left for weeks with no electricity. Can you imagine taking care of a sick person while you have no water to drink, no electricity, and no way to get food? I am THANKFUL, THANKFUL, THANKFUL  that our home is not in a hurricane zone.

******* As we stumbled through the fridge crisis, I had to practically beg one of my clients to pay me for work I did last summer. My check was months overdue and I really needed money to pay for that refrigerator! They agreed to write me a check, but I had to drive 100 miles (each way) to pick it up. One of our helpers promised to be here with my mother while I made the trip. Then after I left he called to say that his son had a health crisis and he couldn’t reach our house before the hospice aide had to leave. When I got this message I was 90 miles from home! We are VERY FORTUNATE to have a kind neighbor. She agreed to stay at the house until I could cash my check and race home. The trip was stressful and I drove too fast. But I know we are lucky to have a neighbor who is willing to help.

caregivers live everywhere

Many caregivers face worse problems than I do while looking after loved ones. Residents in Northern California are losing their homes to relentless fires. #Caregivers in Houston, Miami and San Juan are still trying to put their lives back together after devastating storms. People often tell me that taking care of my mom is an act of heroism. But I know better. We’ve been blessed with a lot of resources that help us survive our most serious problems. Wherever you are, I hope you find ways to overcome your worst #caregiver challenges as you deal with the chaos of life.