Tag Archives: caregiver health

Dementia and Planning

Planning is not my strong suit, but you have to look ahead when someone in your family has dementia. Unfortunately my forecasts are as dicey as the weatherman’s. Whether you listen to scientists or the Farmer’s Almanac, predictions about the future are often incorrect.

Dementia and Planning

Because my mother’s condition continues to defy expectations, I have to look for stability elsewhere. We live in a place filled with natural wonders so I observe changes in the plants and animals near our home. The first leaves have dropped from the giant elm in our yard. A flock of wild turkeys chattered in a field as I drove home this evening. These signs tell me that summer is drawing to a slow close. Some of the beauty around our home is about to wither. Nature provides me with reliable information that I can actually use.

Doctors and nurses try to do this, too. They use their experience, observations and research to help us understand what’s most likely to happen next. The trouble is that variations of dementia are hard to diagnose and changing symptoms bring one set of problems after another. My mother also seems determined to live through this disease her own way. The same person who appeared so feeble nine months ago, now looks charged up and cheerful.

I love seeing my mother strong again. But sometimes her strength makes me more aware of my own weaknesses. As the evenings grow cooler, I ask myself if I have the vigor to make it through another winter while continuing to provide good care. My memories of last January weigh on me like nightmares from a battle front. Summer has been so peaceful by comparison. I don’t want it to end.

Many caregivers out there face worse challenges than I do so I try to focus on the positive elements of our situation. I chose to carry out this tour of duty and it has been rewarding in a hundred beautiful ways. My battle scars are piling up, however, and I don’t want to become one of those caregivers who lets their health crumble while they support someone else. The only actions that really help us are the affirmative ones we take to make sure we can stay strong. I made an appointment for a physical this week. This is about as far as my planning goes at this time. What plans have you made to ensure a healthy future for yourself?

Independence Day for Caregivers

Our loved ones rely on us. We want to be there for them, but caregivers need some independence, too. I’m not asking for fireworks and cannons. An hour laughing with friends can feel revolutionary. Can someone help you enjoy a bit of precious liberty?

Between the Pond and the Woods

#SolsticeTSq

My sister is the hero who allowed me to reclaim some independence. She’s stepped in on key occasions to help provide needed respite. Two weeks ago I was able to spend a day in New York City for the annual Yoga in Times Square celebration. This is the second year I’ve gone to NYC on the Summer Solstice to throw my yoga mat down in the middle of one of America’s busiest streets. The photo above shows the marquee of One Times Square, where the ball drops to mark the start of each New Year. On the Solstice, the City of New York blocks streets around the Square so thousands of people can practice yoga with others arriving from all parts of the world.

Although the Solstice fell two weeks before the Fourth of July, that day felt like my own personal Independence Day. The night before the solstice, my sister drove to my house to serve as temporary caregiver for my mom. I drove away early on Sunday morning and travelled two hours to the city. There were no traffic problems and I found a free parking space on a street in mid-town Manhattan. I felt like I’d won the lottery. My yoga class was wonderful and I got to visit some New York friends I rarely get to see.

Doing yoga with thirty thousand other people may not seem like the right kind of break for you. In fact, it may not sound relaxing at all. But I assure you that my single day of liberty re-charged me fully — on the physical and emotional level. I returned to my caregiver duties feeling much stronger and more compassionate. I hope that you can identify a sibling, a cousin, or a friend who can help you have your own Independence Day. Find someone you can trust who can give you the minimum break needed to restore your strength and enhance your ability to deliver care. You deserve fireworks and cannons, too, but if you keep your request low-key, you may find you don’t need that other stuff.