Thursday, February 19, 2015

What It Takes To Be a Caregiver

If you’re caring for a loved one, you know what it takes, but Today’s Caregiver reminds us afresh. I like this short article because the author, Aida F., affirms the blessings amid the challenges. She encourages us to tap the strength within, as a marathon runner might in training and remaining focused on the goal.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Top 10 Ways for Caregivers to Spend Dollars Wisely

Small caregiving expenses add up quickly ... An $8 lotion for Mom's rash doesn't do the trick, so you try a different brand at another $8. The second lotion doesn't bring the desired comfort level, so the doctor prescribes a generic cream; your copay is $4. That's $20. Dad's usual salad dressing has begun to give him indigestion, so you plunk down $3 or $4 a couple more times to find a dressing that doesn't bother him. How many compression sleeves, at $29 a pop, for arthritic hands, knees, and elbows have you gone through? You page through assistive-aids catalogs and haunt aisles of medical supply stores to find grab bars you can affix in the existing bathroom. Cha-ching. Whether it's your money or your parents' money paying for these things, you need to purchase wisely.

In the current newsletter, Kris Maxham, staff writer, offers 10 of the most helpful ways to spend your limited resources. They include legal advice and respite ideas for you, and alerts and alarms for your loved one. It's a great list ~ check it out here.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spiders and weasels and worms, oh my! (with apologies to Dorothy)

A few years ago I wrote a post about “other duties as assigned” parts of a caregiver’s job description. I had just swept my parents’ porch free of a wiggle of earthworms after a massive rainstorm. [Although “a prickle of hedgehogs,” “a chattering of chicks,” and “a sneak of weasels” are on lists of collective terms for animals, I find no listing for worms, so how about “a wiggle of worms”?]

Here are a few more concerns of caregivers:

   A friend hears her sister’s complaints of exhaustion after living with their infirm parents for months. In addition to providing relief by visiting their parents’ home and sharing in the frustration of encouraging unwilling parents to do their physical therapy exercises, my friend invites her sister out once a week to have fun together. My friend and her sister might be called “a team of sisters,” and sometimes, “a party of sisters.” 

  My mother’s live-in caregiver, who lives in her lovely finished basement, complained of big spiders down there. After finding a spider inside her pillowcase, she refused to sleep in the bed and took to the couch. Her getting less than adequate sleep worried me, because she needs to be alert to any cue that my mom needs her. My stoic mother, however, is not afraid of spiders and doesn’t understand why anyone fears them. She offered the caregiver a can of bug-killing spray, but the caregiver had health concerns about that, so she wouldn’t spray it. Google and I partnered for the cause and found a natural remedy, which required my buying peppermint oil. By the time I bought it and offered to mix it in a spray bottle for her, the caregiver said the spider crisis was over and she was back sleeping peacefully in the bed. Let’s see … “a creep of tortoises,” “a slither of snakes,” nothing for spiders … how about “a crawl of spiders?” And certainly now, even one bottle constitutes a surplus of peppermint oil.

Another friend and her siblings have reached the ends of their ropes tag-teaming visits to their mother’s apartment to help her get dressed, make sure she hasn’t fallen, and is taking her meds. They realize their mom needs more help than they can provide. My friend thought she’d find it at A Place for Mom but didn't find a good fit through them. She’s talked with some facilities and learned about their specialized units for older folks with varying issues. Those weren’t good fits for her mom either. She did learn some lingo though. Now she and her sibs know their dear mother does not need assisted living; rather, she needs what the industry calls supportive living. So now they’ll contact Visiting Angels. Oh, and during this research, they’ve been in touch with federal and state agencies to learn what care is covered. Since I don’t think my aging brain could keep straight the complexities of working my way down such a long list of resources, I’ll call my friend’s family “a saint of siblings.”

The collective term for an endless list to research? How about “a flow chart of lists”? “An infinity of lists?” “A fog of lists”?