Posted in Alzheimer's, books, caregiver, caregiver stress, caregiving, dementia, depression, eldercare, prayer, sandwich generation, Uncategorized, tagged caregiver stress, caregiving, daily rituals, music therapy on July 9, 2009|
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Let me guess: your morning caregiving routine is pretty spelled out for you. It probably includes dressing and feeding your care buddy (mom, dad, spouse) and yes, the meds. Every day–2,3, 4 times a day you dole out the meds. Your routine may also include some physical therapy, schedule doctor appointments, argue with your insurance comapny, trips to the store and pharmacy. Sound familiar?
Those aren’t the caregiving rituals I’m talking about. I’m referring to what you do before you do all that.
“What?” You may ask, “Roll out of bed, throw on my house coat and get busy?”
No wonder you’re burned out (yes, I mean you!)
Without a daily ritual that supports and under-girds all you do, you will become burned out (if you’re not already).
Caregiving is more than just a bunch of “to-do’s” It’s not merely a never-ending list of meds and doctor appointments. Caregiving is part of your relationship. Not all, but part. Caregiving has something to give you, to teach you–if you perk up your ears and your heart and listen.
What you’re doing is actually important, and not just on a physical level. But it has to start early in the morning. As a sandwich genaration mom, once I opened my bedroom door, I stepped into a raging river. My morning rituals gave me the strength and insight to face what might be on the other side of that door.
Ways to Create Meaning Through Your Caregiving Ritual:
- Make your bedroom and your bathroom a sanctuary.
- An easy quick fix that can change your mood is color–paint your bedroom–at least one wall.
- Do you need a soothing color? Blushes, creams and peaches? Or do you need a joyful color? Turqoise, chartreuse or magenta?
- Is your bedroom junky? The dumping ground while all the rest of the house looks relatively good? Well it’s time to change that! Even if you don’t have but 5 minutes, pick up the stuff that’s cluttering your floors and dresser tops and take them some place else–anywhere else. You deserve a serene room. You deserve beauty and order. Clean it up later, but get it out of your room–today!
- Consider an electric water/tea kettle or a coffee pot for your bedroom/bath. It’s nice not to have to leave your bedroom just to get a cup of chamomile.
- Before you ever get out of bed, come up with three things you’re thankful for–the cardinal that just flew by, a perfect pillow, the fact that you can lie still with not one ache or pain are something to be grateful for.
- Keep that door shut in the morning. If you like TV, move one into your bedroom, or better yet, go for some music. Music lifts the spirits almost in an instant.
- Take the time to fully dress. Brush your hair, put on your shoes, and dress in real clothes before you ever leave your room. This take charge attitude will set you up for a good day.
- Make that bed! Why? So you can leave your door open and see that beautiful room that’s waiting for you at the end of the day. Go outside and pick some greenery and put it in your room. Bringing the outside in is healing.
- Keep a journal. Pour your worries, your fears, and even your sweetest memories onto the page. You’ll feel lighter knowing it’s kept in a safe place.
- Say your prayers. Talk like your gushing to your best friend (because you are). Ask for a good day. Ask for patience. Ask for strength.
- If your day goes south–you lose your temper, you hit a roadblock–take a break and go to your room. Shut the door and find a cozy place to sit. Return to what soothes you–vent in your journal, light a candle, say a prayer, strip off your clothes and take a cool shower to calm down.
- Look forward to returning to your room at the end of the day. Imagine that gorgeous color on your walls, your made bed, your journal waiting for you, the music in your CD or iPod player. Imagine yourself walking back in that room, slipping out of your shoes, and letting it all go….
Soon, your mind will comprehend that your bedroom is a “safe place” you can always return to find your center again. These daily morning rituals can literally save your life. They can be your port in your crazy-caregiving storm.
~Carol O’Dell, Author Mothering Mother
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Posted in adult day cares, affection, aging, Alzheimer's, amazon, book club, book reviews, books, boomer, boomer women, breaking point, care partner, care receiver, caregiver, caregiver stress, caregiving, church, community care, daughters, dementia, depression, doctors, elder care, eldercare, emotional, end of life, family, family caregiving, geriatrics, grieving, guilt, healthcare, home passing, hospice, hospital, humor, inspirational, intimacy, joy and purpose, law of attraction, marketing, marriage, memoir, menopause, mid-life crisis, mother-in-laws, mothering, mothers, nerves, neurological disorders, neurology, pallative care, parents, passion, perfectionist, prayer, relationships, sandwich generation, senior care, seniors, sex, spiritual, spiritual teachers, walking, will to live, wisdom, women, women's health, writing on May 15, 2008|
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There’s a new kind of caregiver out there.
She (or he) is a savvy caregiver, isn’t a martyr, and doesn’t look defeated (all the time).
She (I use the feminine pronoun to apply to everyone) has her act together (in some respects) and isn’t going to let her life and her plans be completely derailed–and yet she loves her family, her elders, her children, and embraces the fact that she’s an integral part of their life.
How does she do it all?
It’s not about being perfect.
In part, it’s about being prepared, looking at the big picture, and then breaking down the day-to-day components into manageable bites.
It’s also about choosing to care-give.
This isn’t a passive thing–and yes, it may have come to you sideways, unexpected or by default, but you didn’t have to say yes. Everyday people place their family members in care facilities, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes by refusing to give them any level of care.
Realize that you are choosing to care-give. That sense of choice also provides you with purpose and direction. It means you’re not a victim.
Preparedness (Boy Scouts, move over) and How to Care-give Not to Kill Yourself
- She’s (the healthy caregiver) gathered the necessary info and has it at her fingertips–Living Wills (The Five Wishes is the one I highly suggest) DNR orders, if necessary, insurance info and numbers, notes made about recent doctor appts. or hospitalizations, and medicine info.
- She uses her calendar and to-do lists efficiently, but she’s not a robot. Some days you chuck it all and love on the person who needs it the most (that may be yourself).
- She has her down days, her pajama days, and she knows that balance isn’t about doing a little every day–sometimes there are seasons–seasons of quiet, seasons of chaos, and seasons of grief.
- She’s learned not to let every little thing rial her. She’s experienced enough in life to know what’s worth freaking out about (which is very little) and what isn’t (which is most everything else).
- She listens, repeats back what is said (to a loved one or to a doctor) so that she understands clearly. She takes notes if it’s important or could be necessary later.
- She can shut it all off and be a woman, get a mani-pedi, be silly and play Prince in the car and sing to the top of her lungs. She doesn’t get sucked into being an elder or being a teen just because she happens to spend a lot of time with either (or both).
- She prioritizes. Sometimes a home-cooked meal is soothing and rattles her nerves. Sometimes it’s pizza night. She laid down the “shoulda’s, woulda’s, and coulda’s.”
- She has a great support team–friends to call and gripe to, a gynecologist or family doctor who’s looking out for her, knows the stress she’s under and can monitor her well-being. She relies on her faith, her heart, her circle of support and doesn’t try to go it alone. She considers herself a part of a team and shows a heart of gratitude.
- She asks for and accepts help. She isn’t interested in being super woman or perfectionist woman. She’s willing to get help and seeks out competent care.
- She knows she’s vulnerable to stress, so she’s devised a meditation time and exercise time she can manage–it may be only a few minutes a day, but it keeps her sane. She’s found her own spirituality.
- She continues to improve her own life–she takes an on line class, a yoga class, is learning how to knit–something that keeps her mind active and learning.
- She utilizes the internet, finds help, information, and forums that help support her and her caregiving experience.
- She can see past tomorrow–she knows that caregiving isn’t forever–and she has her own personal plan to move on with her life.
- She gives herself permission to “lose it” every once in a while–sometimes things just go in the crapper and that isn’t a reflection of her, it’s just life. If she bites someone’s head off, forgets an appointment, bounces a check, she admits her faux pas and lets it go.
- She values her marriage/intimate relationship and allows sex and intimacy to heal her. Even when she’s exhausted, she finds and asks for ways to connect.
- She enjoys caregiving–even with all its craziness, caring for a loved one is a privilege. She finds ways to incorporate everyday pleasures to share with her care partner–bird watching from a bedroom window, stopping for ice cream on the way back from the doctor.
- She takes the time to hold hands.
- She’s strong enough to make the touch choices, to not be popular, to figure out how to get a doctor, care staff to understand where she’s coming from–and she’s brave enough to know that when death comes, she may be asked to make critical end-of-life decisions, decisions others may disagree with.
- She’s not afraid of Alzheimer’s or Parkinsons and doesn’t give up in the cruel face of whatever disease her loved ones face. If they forget who she is, she’ll remember for them. If they become uncontrollable, she gets help and doesn’t take it personal.
- She knows that she may not always be able to do this–and she’s explored other options. She isn’t going to wreck her health or her marriage. She’s planning for those changes now.
- She knows that caregiving will take her to the bitter edge, and she’s got to figure out how regain the parts of her that get lost in the mix. She knows how hard this is, or will become, but there’s a thread that’s pulling her along, a thread will lead her out and will allow her to continue her journey once caregiving is over.
The new kind of caregiver isn’t a super-mom or super-daughter (or super-son).
They’re real people loving their families. It’s realistic. It’s not martyristic.
The world may not understand the “sacrifices” as some might call them that caregivers (plain ole’ family) makes, but those who have been there understand the love and loyalty that comes in tow.
You don’t do all these things at once, so don’t try to measure up.
You don’t do them to impress anybody.
This is survival. This is how to care-give and not kill yourself in the process.
~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
available on Amazon
Family Advisor at www.Caring.com
Syndicated blog at www.OpentoHope.com
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