caregivers


My MIL likes to write in her journal, but as life has slowed down in the last 1 1/2 years since they moved in with us, I think she’s abandoned the writing.  So…daughter Alison and I decided she needed some ideas…some thought-starters to get her writing again.  In the process she’ll also be contributing to a written family history!

Grammy’s Journal in a Jar

Here are some of the dozens of questions we wrote on tiny pieces of paper, then placed in a jar:

What kind of chores did you used to do?

Were you ever punished as a child and who did the punishing?

Did you and your brother get along?

Did you ever run away from home?

Did you have a bridal shower?

Do you remember when you first became pregnant? etc. etc.

When you are a daily caregiver to a couple of octogenarians…on top of working full time, making plans for a wedding and 2 graduations, etc. a good way to deal with the intense stress is to TRY and “accentuate the positive”…and take a moment to appreciate little things as they go by.

I had a good day.  I was thrilled to be able to spend much of the day manning the Super Bowl Host Committee’s Media Center, chatting with reporters from around the world (Italy, Argentina, Australia, NY to name a few!), and helping with story ideas and sources for interviews.  “Where will these football players most likely get in trouble” was one I bounced over to a Sports Corp spokesman (here‘s his story) and ‘tell me more about this Lego Lucas Oil Stadium’ (here is one of many stories and see below for photos). I am looking forward to another such day on Thursday and then a full day in Super Bowl Village on Saturday, the day before The Game, assisting media.

My day was capped off by seeing K3, my youngest son, decked out head to toe in MY clothes!  Even my daughter rarely borrowed my clothes…but it just so happens that I have a decent wardrobe of workout/running attire that my son likes to get into.  Thankfully, I’m not yet old enough or quite chubby enough that he can’t still wear stuff of mine 🙂

Also, daughter was over for dinner with us;  always a treat, since she doesn’t live with us any more!  We spent some time laying on my bed going over some wedding details, too, which was fun.  I must remember to cherish these little things!

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Sharing is a part of humanity;  we learn how to share in preschool, get married and re-learn how to share, and then teach our kids to share!  We are occasionally tested on our real understanding of this verb, however.  After all, it does translate to “to give a part of something“.

A Clean Kitchen!

I point to this in the context of taking family members (or anyone else, for that matter) into your home.  When you do this, you have to think of every way that it will affect you…and them.  As you know, my in-laws have been living with us for the past 10 months now.  Here’s what sharing has meant to us:

 

  • They’ve pretty much turned their car over (“shared”) to our son, who gets to drive it to his senior year of h.s.;  they no longer drive, but handing over the keys is always traumatic.
  • We share the laundry room.  Doesn’t always work well….usually its fine, thanks to designated days…but I can no longer leave clothes in the washer or dryer “until I get to them”.
  • We share the kitchen.  (Do you have any idea how much emotion was just packed into that sentence?) Women don’t share kitchens very well.  Do men share their work benches with other men?  Do artists share their paints with other artists? Do teenage girls share their makeup drawer with other teenage girls?  Very personal…..enough said.
  • We share space.  That means often small spaces shared by large people, walkers, an occasional cane, 6 pets, etc.  and sometimes differing views on housekeeping and even decor.
  •  And air…we share different smells, different temperatures…adjustments constantly are being made on both sides….we are “giving away a part” of even the air.

There are many things you should be prepared for when you move in with family members, or have them move in with you.  Sharing is a very big part of it!  Sometimes I revert back to my 2-year old self and feel “I don’t want to share any more!”.  That’s when its time for a nice walk or a movie 🙂

I often think that we are at the edge of the curve…that as Baby Boomers age, and our parents age…more will be pulling parents into their homes, just like we did.  But its so hard to find information..  many “resources” are just looking for your money and aren’t all that helpful. How to navigate?

We made a good decision a few months ago, to have an assessment done by a local home health care agency.  They charged nothing for the assessment, and came back to us armed with information on services they could offer, as well as Medicare, etc. options for payment.

As conditions change (which we’ve found they DO change WEEKLY!), the agency has made new recommendations, filed all the paperwork, and even been in touch with the Veterans Administration to iron out benefits.

New changes this week include a hospital bed, which allows FIL to safely get up during the night…and he actually gets up LESS now, so the bed must be more comfortable for him.; an unexpected side benefit!

We have added assistance with two 1-hour baths per week for FIL, plus 3 other days of a 6-hour home health aide, who not only bathes him, but assists with meals, straightening, bathroom cleaning (VERY necessary with the elderly!), and other things “as needed”. What a God-send!  MIL is feeling much happier now that the stress of constant care has been lifted and we feel so much better at work each day knowing they are safe and someone is checking in every day while we’re gone.

Each day, each week, each month is new and different.  We just plod on…