When the caregiver needs a caregiver – lessons it taught me.

Recently I took a fall and badly injured the knee I had replaced last fall.  Suddenly, I needed someone to do certain things for me.

It really puts it into perspective how the person we are taking care of feels.  Here are five items that I really never thought much about:

1.  PrivacyI had none.  I had to have someone help with bathing and for some reason that was very stressful for me.  We all have the same parts so what is the big deal?  It is a big deal.  Even though the person we are taking care of might be close family, they might still want privacy.  See what you can do to give them as much as possible.

2.  My schedule – Suddenly I had to do things when it was convenient for someone else.  Everyone was terrific about working with me but it was odd to have to have to have someone take out my dog, cook my meals, etc.  Being independent one day and then not the next was hard.  I will keep this in mind to see if people I am caring for would like things done on a different schedule if I can.

3.  Sleep – I hate to sleep on a schedule.  You get used to getting up and going to bed when you want but when others are helping, you adjust.   I couldn’t get up to get to the rest room so had to watch my drinking habits.  It was hard to move around to get comfortable also but I lived.  This will make me consider ways to make my “patients” more comfortable at night.  When mom was here, we put a baby monitor in her room so I could hear if she needed help in the night.

4.  Irritability – I try to be pleasant all the time but I found out that I can be a real crab when I am hurting.  I have had people tell me that the people they were caring for were real bitchy at time and now I definitely understand how that could be.  Mom never really complained but when she wanted to could be VERY stubborn.  She would just look at me with a gleam in her eye and say “NOPE”!  When she said that, there was no reasoning with her.

5.  Medication – I confess that I am not the best at taking my meds on a strict schedule.  I also take supplements like calcium and vitamins.  Due to outside help, these were looked at very carefully.  I felt like I was a little kids being spied on.  I realize that medications can all have interactions with foods, drinks and other meds but I was on top of that and having someone question it made me irritated.

Now, none of this is complaining.  People have to do what they have to do but it really opened my eyes to how what I was doing might make someone else feel.  It is easy to get in a habit and just do things without really thinking how the other person might feel.  Take time to see how what, how and when what you are doing might be interpreted by the person you are caring for.

Ask them if you could do things differently to help them.  Ask for suggestions but be prepared, you might get them.

 

Patience – A Much Needed Virtue

As we all know, being a caregiver can be very taxing.  It makes you draw on your strength, nurturing abilities and your patience.  Sometimes your patience is the hardest thing to maintain.

We have to remember that the people we are caring for might be in pain, embarrassed to have to have a caregiver, scared and/or mad at their bodies for breaking down.  They are not upset with us but the situation.

It is hard to have a loved one yell at you or refuse to cooperate with what you have to do in order to help them.  At times, they act like little children.  I particularly remember when Mom would get this look in her eye and just say “nope” when I tried to get her to take her pills or drink something.

There is no easy way to tell someone how to have patience.  What worked for me was to walk away and try later.  It did me no good to try to ask her to take it again or “force” her to do it.  Sometimes I was able to distract her and she would do it without realizing it.  Sometimes music will calm someone.

Sometimes you just need a break.  The next three posts will be about Respite Care.  It is a way to get away from the situation enough to come back refreshed and ready to begin again.

What do you do when your patience is at an end?  Please let us all know so that we might be able to try it when we really need it.