24/7/365

When caring for someone with dementia or any other illness that robs a person of being able to do for themselves you really sign on for a job that’s 24/7/365.

You help with bathing, dressing, grooming as needed.  You make sure meals are prepared and hope they’re well received.  You make sure doctor’s appointments are made and gotten to on time.  You make sure that doctor’s orders for treatments and medications are followed.  You keep your loved one safe from others and often themselves.  You are their protector, shoulder to lean on, and champion.  You give wholly of yourself for their welfare.  Your entire focus is on their needs.  You are their hero.

This is the life of a caregiver.  This is part of the reason I love what I do.  I get to be the hero to the caregiver.  I come along side them and offer them a chance to recharge their batteries.  I step in for a few hours to take some of the burden from their shoulders.  I look them in the eye and say, “I’ve got this, go take some time to be good to yourself.”

For a caregiver to have a few precious hours to take care of themselves is huge.  It is a chance to breathe.  It is a chance to connect with the outside world.  It is an opportunity to decompress from the stresses of life.

So, dear caregiver, here’s hoping you have someone in your life who can say “I’ve got this for a while, go take some time to be good to yourself.”

For those of you who know a caregiver, could you think about coming alongside them?  Even a few hours can make a huge impact on the caregiver’s ability to continue.

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Who cares for the caregiver?

Be gentle with

A caregiver is someone who gives from the heart to the point of forgetting about their own needs.  A caregiver will miss out on sleep, ignore their own health needs, miss out on time with friends and other family and basically put all their needs on the back burner.

stress

Taking care of yourself as a caregiver is very important.  This means doing what you can to get enough sleep, take care of your own health and take time to have some personal time.  In caring for yourself as a caregiver you are making sure that you will continue to be able to provide excellent care.

This is easier said than done.  Believe me I know!  As a caregiver it is easy to get caught up in the needs of your loved one and forget your own needs.

You need to create a support system of family and friends who will step up and give you a break, even if it is only for a couple of hours a week.  If you don’t have the kind of relationships where you would feel comfortable asking for this help, there are companies that specialize in providing respite care.

integrity

If you know someone who is a caregiver ask them if there is anything you can do to help.  It can be something simple like helping with yardwork or housework.  You can offer to visit with their loved one so the caregiver has a chance to run some errands or go out for coffee with another friend.

You don’t have to be a professional caregiver to help care for a caregiver, you just need to be willing to step in and offer your support.

If your days on Earth were numbered, what would you want to do most?

This question is sometimes talked about, but when push comes to shove what would you really like to do as your time comes to an end?

For most of us it would involve an activity we enjoyed, perhaps where we felt the most peaceful within ourselves and with the world.

This Vietnam vet requested to do just that … he wanted to go fishing one last time.   I’m sure it took some inventive thinking and extra effort on the part of this man’s family, friends and caregivers but they made sure it happened for him.

Why?  Why do this?  Simply for this reason: make every moment count.  Take every day you have whether 1 or 100,000 or 1 million and find joy in the living of that day.

Gone Fishin’

Big Pharma Vs Patient needs

We’ve seen this over and over again, patients being prescribed medications because the doctors are being encouraged by the pharmaceutical companies to prescribe.  Right now it’s some of our most vulnerable who are being prescribed medications that may or may not be safe for them.  PBA (pseudobulbar affect) is a real condition, but is rare and usually affects those with MS or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) but a surprisingly large number of dementia patients in nursing care facilities are being prescribed this medication often without the knowledge of their medical power of attorney.

It is being used as a behavior modification medication.  There hasn’t been sufficient studies to determine if this medication is; a) safe for use in dementia patients, b) actually works across the board as an effective treatment for behavioral outbursts or c) drug interactions with other medications typically prescribed for dementia.

This article goes into quite a bit of detail about the disturbing practices of the drug’s manufacturer, prescribing physicians receiving kickbacks for prescribing it and the fact that a medication designed to treat a rare condition specifically related to completely different diseases there are a large number of patients (especially in nursing facilities) being dosed with it.  Read here.