In my last post I mentioned that I took a second place win and tie in Vitas Healthcare’s Caregiving Story contest. You never know where experiences will lead you, but having been on this wild yet interesting and loving journey called caregiving, it has made me all the better person for having been on it.
Here’s my story “Strap in for the Ride”, which I believe is informative yet told with humor if I should say so myself. I mean where else will you learn about the Home Depot being good for supplies.
“Strap in for the Ride”
When I started blogging, I dubbed myself a “master caregiver.” Not because I was by any stretch of the imagination a master at it when the role was bestowed upon me. It was more the irony of it, or putting it out there to the universe: that’s what I was going to become as I took care of my mother, who had Alzheimer’s.
For those of you who are trained for the role, you already have a leg up. For those who, like me, became a caregiver unexpectedly, strap in for the ride.
Being my mother’s caregiver definitely had its challenges. There are accidents. You find yourself always doing laundry, giving medication, scheduling appointments—scheduling everything. But I would never trade it in for the world. Oftentimes you feel as though you are behind the eight ball, so to speak, that you’re reacting to situations instead of proactively acting, and that it may take a moment, if ever, to get ahead of the caring curve.
It’s in those rare quiet times that you have to prepare for the next day and week, that you need to make your to-do list, the doctors list, contact list, shopping list and what-friend-can-I-call-today list. Caregivers have little to no “self” time, and when it came to planning my life’s future, that ceased. I didn’t want to think of future things, because I was unsure of what that would be for me. I had to learn (with the help of my therapist) that at some point I had to be selfish with my time.
You need to think about something that you want to do and try to find a way to do it. Whether it’s getting your hair done, going for a manicure or going for a walk, see if you can put something in place that will give you free time. Look into a daycare facility, respite or a good friend who could give you that free moment.
You also have to learn how to be fast on your feet and, yes, at times, think unconventionally. I triumphed at 10-minute grocery shopping and doing the “Target 5k” (no such thing) in record time. And, boy, did I shine when handling a big oops moment with Mom and finding out how great the Home Depot can be when you need supplies. Yes! The Home Depot!
As a caregiver you must have compassion, but you can’t get rattled when accidents or unexpected things happen. Caregiving is a true test of heart and a true test of physical and mental will. It can be tough and often is not rewarded. And yet it’s one of the most rewarding roles. In the midst of my journey dealing with Mom’s Alzheimer’s, she forgot many things. But she never forgot to say thank you.
To see all my article on the Vitas website and all of the winners go here: Family Caregivers Share Their Personal Experiences and to get to my click on the title.
will be started below and to see my full submission and other’s stories