Caregiving Sucks Mostly and then There is Great Joy

An article

It seems to be an honest rant.

Or not – Michelle is another caregiver on a journey. Her 10 tips is a worthwhile read.

On and off through the days and weeks of care giving to Cheryl I think of many of these issues. These are close to my heart. How am I feeling? How am I dealing with the constant attention to her? And maybe, as a boomer generation, how do I feel about nearing the end of life?

Our daughter has given us, me in particular, a very generous gift. She will stay with her mother while I go to visit my sister on the west coast. To provide enough information about my current occupation, I wrote some instructions:

While I am away:

Coffee – to make a whole pot -I use the 1/8 cup in the drawer to the right of the stove and put in 6 scoops (3/4 C.) If I grind whole bean coffee, I put the slider on 8. It makes about the right amount.

Burners … Cheryl gets confused about which one comes on. If she wants to make tea, the tea bags are in the pantry roll around shelves. Heat some water. After pouring boiling water on tea bag in the cup set the timer for 4 minutes. Cheryl might forget she made tea.

Shower and hair – after Cheryl takes a shower and washes her hair you will have to put conditioner on her hair. It comes in a dropper bottle. She will sit on the bench under the center vanity in the back bathroom. Massage it into the top and back part of her head for a minute or so. It smells like Vicks Vapo rub. 🙂 use about 1/2 a dropper full. ( I always wash my hands afterward because it makes the coffee taste funny.)

Bed making – after Cheryl takes her 7AM pills she often lays down again for 30 minutes or so. After she gets up and is eating breakfast, it’s a good time to make the bed. She sometimes lays down after her 10AM meds.

The button to stop the EXTREMELY LOUD AND ANNOYING alarm clock is on the back in the middle of the up,down,left,right buttons. – this goes off at 7AM.

Pills .. inner list corrected – I made a mistake with my list. Cheryl takes 1/2 pill of quetiapine (Seraquel) at night to help her sleep. The list in the box is marked up. | always put her 7AM pills in the little glass bowl the night before. I put her vitamins (1 gray & 2 big white football shapes) in a separate little bottle on the kitchen table. She takes those with breakfast.

Breakfast is typically Life cereal with dried cherries and milk. OJ to drink… often two cups. Sometimes Dove chocolate after. Sometimes tea also.

Soap and supplies — in the hall closet or laundry room. Dishwasher soap is under the sink.

Pills at night – Cheryl typically goes to bed about 10PM or so. Sometimes earlier but try to get her to not take her last group of meds before 9:30PM. I always open the bed for her. I often sit and read for an hour or so in my office. If you watch TV turn the sound way down. Cheryl hears TV voices and thinks we have visitors. Make sure her walker is in the bedroom next to the hamper. Sometimes she needs it at night.

Laying down and ice packs and Tums – sometimes Cheryl’s meds attack her. She may lay down, take Tums (2) and use an ice pack wrapped in a towel. Make sure the ice pack gets into freezer afterwards. – or she might just walk around.

Confusion at night ~ you may notice Cheryl gets generally confused about things at night. This often presents around late afternoon and evening as the sun light is less. Rainy dreary weather also… just reassure her that all is okay. She may ask where the kids went. She may call you Jan. She may see others in the room. Ask her who she sees, it often brings her back to the room. She might not have any of these behaviors.

Cable TV
System on/off only turns on TV, Sometimes the cable box goes off press [cbl] and then power to get it back. Cheryl is not able to fix this.

Generally how the day goes
… up at 7AM meds and lay down a bit, cereal with dried cherries breakfast. Shower or just freshen up. 10AM meds and lay down. Up again and watch the View for a bit… If it’s an exercise day, class is at noon, your mom will want to go at about 11:30AM. You will be early. Just go with it. If she is having a good day, go somewhere for lunch. Or on non-exercise days maybe go for a walk somewhere. She likes 4:30PM mass on Saturday.
I either cook something or take her somewhere to eat dinner about 5:30-ish. You may not be used to eating at this time during the evening. If your mom eats later that this she often has a hard time at night and does not sleep well.
There are frozen veggies in the freezer and frozen meats of various kinds. Two bowls have potatoes and onions in the pantry. There is rice, quinoa, dried pasta(s) and canned things. I went to the store yesterday and got yogurt, luncheon meat and bread. Your mom likes English muffins and bagels. There are some of those in the fridge as is salad stuff.

There is more. It goes on for three pages and I included pictures with the printed version. I had to laugh at myself. This collection of comments merely highlights the stuff that goes on each day. That is interlaced with various other chores and duties that need to be kept up – laundry, cooking, etc.

My daughter visited with us a couple days ago to talk about this and these. We talked about many topics that I have written here. When I gave the paper to her, she read it and said – you forgot about the newspaper. 🙂 I love this girl!

Carpe, Baby!