Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How Do They Do It?

It's true that I often feel overwhelmed by my caregiving role. But sometimes when we joke about how the house can be like Grand Central Station, I realize that I get a lot of help every week. We have ...
  • Skip's companion, MW, who comes 10-15 hours a week. She is both company for Skip and a big help to me, handling piles of laundry, dishes and dinner. On the Saturdays that I go to visit my parents on Cape Cod, when I'm gone for 8-10 hours, she stays with Skip most of the day. This is a nice, extended break apart for both of us.
  • Skip's aid, KH. Because Skip is under the care of a visiting nurse, Medicare pays for an aid. KH comes 4 times a week for 1-1/2 hours each time. She gives Skip a bath, washes her hair, gets her transferred to her power chair, changes the sheets, gets her a snack, etc. She's energetic and friendly and she and Skip keep up a constant conversation while she's here.
  • Daily nursing visits to change the dressing on Skip's wound. The wound nurse who has been working with Skip for at least 6 months is very knowledgeable and has been a key part of the reason Skip is as far along as she is in the healing process.
  • A wonderful couple comes every other week to clean the house. They go from top to bottom and clean everything.
There's some stress associated with having visitors to the house so often. But that is far outweighed by the services each provides and the care and company these folks provide to Skip.

What about those caregivers who have a similar load to me ... a full time job, caregiving responsibilities for someone who needs a lot of care, family finances to manage, house maintenance to attempt. How do they do it? I can't imagine the level of stress, the feelings of being overwhelmed and the constant fatigue that person must feel.


Herrad said...

Hi Cranky,
When Richie had a fulltime job he did that nd had all my care, as the people we had coming to care for me did little apart from baby sit me.
Since he could leave his fulltime job he does evrything with no help from anyone.
Friends come to visit but never offer help nor ever bring dinner round.
So it is all for Richie to do, which I think he does very well.

zoomdoggies said...

Well, Scarecrow does at all. But he has a flexible schedule with an incredibly accommodating employer. I manage the family finances (it's a control thing). Tuffy helps out with the house and yard maintenance, and our standards are a little looser than they used to be.

And I don't know how the heck he does it. I couldn't.

Cranky said...

Herrad and Zoom - Richie and Scarecrow are impressive! They manage and it sounds like they don't get cranky. I, on the other hand, get cranky regularly.

Achelois said...

I am de-lurking having read the blog on and off for a while.

So hello and am keeping my fingers crossed that 'the wound' heals soon.

In the meantime I would like to borrow the couple who clean the house from top to bottom. Unfortunately I couldn't afford the air fares!

Sending you both best wishes from the UK.

steve said...

That's a really good question, Cranky. When the plate is so full of "have to dos," life can easily slip into a joyless existence. The trick is to find smaller joys that can fit in around the edges, and to know when to call in the reinforcements.

Patrick@Caregivingly Yours said...

I often get emails about this very topic. Frankly in the years immediately prior to the care facility era you closely describe the load of our life except WITHOUT the extra help and WITH the extra responsibility for me of raising our teenage daughter. It was impossible and it was hell. Too many are sucked into that black hole and not every one comes out.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

Diane J Standiford said...

Add to that having MS AND being a caregiver for your ill spouse. We both have some help, in the past year only, but for 30 years I have had to hold my partner up, alone. All while my own health grew worse. I worked 40+ hrs/week for 18 years, fearinge every call was from a hospital where she was taken or a new threat of "brain tumor," I don't know what a life without such stress is like. I don't even know stress. I know feeling STOP! LET ME OUT! But life goes on. Not the fun life I once dreamed of...can't even remember those dreams any more.

soulsoprano said...

Cranky, I work as a hospice CNA, and yes, we do have alot on our plates. It often feels like a double life, caring for the ones we love, whether healthy or ill, and then spending the day caring for the loved ones of others. Hospice, especially, can be emotionally stressful because we are constantly losing people whom we have come to know and love. I work full time at my job, plus I go to school two nights a week, have two kids and a husband. It all can get to be a bit much.

However, it always brings me back into perspective when I consider the plight of my patients and their caregivers. The many stresses and troubles I have in my own life can only pale in comparison to theirs, and I have my health to keep me going through it, an advantage which, as I have noticed in some of the above comments, not all have.

Basically I believe that being any kind of home health or nursing facility caregiver is a calling, and those who are truly called are blessed with a divine strength to be able to do all that needs to be done, and excellently at that. You are merely part of the story of their calling, and they are a part of the story of your journey.



Cranky said...

Axelois - thanks for delurking! I checked out your blog and will have to go take a longer visit soon.

Steve - so true. It's easy to get caught up in the neverending list of tasks and the tether of caregiving and lose the joy. It happens to me at times.

Diane - chronic illness is a dream killer.

Kristen - I agree that doing the work you do requires a special kind of person who is "called" to that work. Skip's aid KH is just such a person and we much blessed for having her in our lives.