Weather disasters can turn caregiving into a nightmare. Normal days are hectic, but hurricanes, floods, and blizzards push us to our limits. My #caregiving routine sank into chaos last week when #blizzard2017 struck our area, The blizzard dumped two feet of snow here in Northeast PA. We were stranded.
During #WinterStormStella we had to boost the heat in the house. My mom has advanced #dementia and she’s very sensitive to the cold. On a normal day she needs at least one blanket. But she needs much more when the temperature drops below 20 degrees. We have a coal stove that heats our home well, but the coal is delivered in 50 pound bags. Besides lifting them, I have to haul out the ashes first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Coal heat is cozy but it leaves me with a nagging back ache.
Then I also had to lift my mom by myself. Our normal helpers could not get here. A small lane leads to our driveway in the woods. We share this road with several other neighbors. Together we all pay someone to plow the lane and clear our driveways. However, the plowman couldn’t get here until the main roads were cleared. It’s nearly impossible for the state crews to keep the roads open when so much snow falls so fast. Our township police declared a state of emergency and would not allow people to drive. That left me — and my mom — all alone.
Bad Weather = havoc For caregivers
During weather disasters, caregiving can be overwhelming. We did have two bits of good luck. First, I raced to the grocery store and pharmacy before the snow began. When #Stella hit, our pantry was full. I had enough supplies to keep mom clean and comfortable for several days. Second, the power lines did not break. We had electricity during the whole ordeal and I’m very thankful for this. If we lose power, we also lose water because ours is pumped up from a deep well. The pump can’t function without electricity. Caring for an incontinent person is always difficult. Take away the water supply and you’ve got a serious health risk.
Even with critical “amenities” like heat and water, I was miserable during the storm. My body ached from the loads I had to carry. The loneliness and isolation felt like extra boulders on my back. I was so happy when we were finally able to have visitors. My mom couldn’t say so but I know she felt relief, too. Though it’s now behind us, the experience has me thinking about #caregivers who lived through #Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. I find myself wondering how caregivers in war torn countries like Syria and South Sudan manage their constant burdens. To them I send heartfelt wishes for peace and global understanding of the challenges they face on a daily basis.