30 October 2010
Help Is Coming
Our hearts sing to us when the opportunity to become a carer knocks on our door. "Hello? Can you help me?" We hear a voice from a frail loved one, asking for help; how can we turn our backs? Thoughts from our childhood flood our mind, we remember the person, we remember the love that they had given to us when we were growing through out our life.
Parents, Aunts, Uncles... they all were there for us when we needed them, how can we say "go away!" We can't, we open our hearts, extending our arms to embrace our loved ones, while we say, "Everything is going to be OK now, I'll take care of you."
Then the fun begins... there isn't an instruction manual for Care Giving, just like babies don't come with "how to" books, neither do our aged seniors.
The aging seniors in our lives need us, period. End of discussion. What makes it so difficult is the senior has become more child-like but believe that they are capable of doing so much more than they once were able. There minds slip, asking the same questions over and over at times or worse, saying "NO!" to pretty much everything that the carer suggests.
No. I really have a tough time with NO and need to remember why my mom says no so much. It's not that she doesn't want this or that or to go here or there, it's because it isn't her idea. Seniors, as they become more dependent on the carer feel that they have no control over their lives. Through my observations, NO seems to be the only way that they can regain control. "No!" A most upsetting word for any Care Giver to hear; I am no exception.
My solution for the NO's ... give choices. The choice you want the senior to pick, say it last; 9 times out of 10 they will chose the second choice, the one that you wanted them to do in the first place. By giving a senior the control to choose, it turns the NO into a YES.
Sometimes it can become extremely difficult being a care giver because we are tired. We lose control of our own lives while our ward gains all control of everyones life in a household, all while believing that they have none. Frustration and a feeling of being trapped, no way out of the madness takes over the care givers soul. Sadness and questioning, "What did I do? Why am I doing this?"
Carers can become depressed and short tempered when we don't have regular breaks to do things for ourselves. Respite. Help from others is needed desperately. We look to family and friends, we expect them to just "know" that we need them, we don't ask for help, instead we wait. Our emotions take over and we begin to become angry that "no one cares." We start judging and before we know it, our world becomes darker and more lonely.
I have lived the plight of a Care Giver, lonely and sad that I was left alone to care for my mom. I cried and I waited for my family; few came to offer help. I judged. I became more alone, no one came. I wanted to understand why and only after I lived through the sadness of losing everything did I find my answer.
Solutions. In the darkest days of care giving for my mom when I was alone, no help, day in and day out, I looked inside myself for an answer. "What can I do to change?"
I changed my mind. I looked outside of my circle of family and friends, contacting Elder Services in my area for help. I'm still waiting for help. Our Care Manager visited us yesterday. I told him what I would like and focused on the main goal; keep my mom out of a facility.
Respite. Care Givers need it regularly. My advice? Hire professionals to take over your caring duties so that you can have a break. Have your loved one participate in Day Programs. Be creative with how you get your senior to go out and socialize. If your loved one is like my mom and not much of a socializer, hire someone to help them get acclimated to the program. It worked for my mom and now she LOVES going to "Kindergarten." We call it "school" where most call it "club."
Care Giving is rewarding with many levels of satisfaction but we as care givers need to remember one person more than anyone else... ourselves. It's easier said than done as any person immersed in caring will agree; we must figure out how to coach a stubborn senior out of their dead routine and into one that will bring more enjoyment into their lives.
Today, I woke up rested. My mom is having another Good Day, two in a row. Our Care Manager from Elder Services helped calm my mom who was worrying that the time was coming for her to move to a home. Caring for her alone without much help has become more difficult on me. Years of being alone with this burden is wearing on me, I need help and thanks to our Care Manager, help is coming!