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”?

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