MY MOM BITES.
And, she throws a mean left hook. Oh, and while I’m at it, I might as well share the bark part. She barks out words I never, ever heard her say in my entire life (my worst fear is that she may have picked them up from me).
There, I’ve said it … my mom is my little stick of dynamite and should come equipped with a warning sign.
I’ve been told it’s the disease. I have been told it is a primal place she goes when she feels threatened, agitated or confused. I have even been told she has a mean streak. Dementia, old age, constipation, the next stage, whatever … warning, warning, warning.
Now, before you go back and reread all of my blogs and say they were a cover up, or made up, or not on the up and up, please know they are all true. But, so are the things I am describing in this blog.
Shhh! Let sleeping moms lie.
Most of the time mom is indeed a joyful person. Most of the time she is cooperative and appreciative of those of us who are lending her a hand. Most of the time she lulls you into believing it’s going to be all of the time, but it’s not … and the change, more often than not, occurs without warning.
People who care for my mom love her.
People who care for my mom are wary of her (remember that mean left hook).
And, I am by no means the only one experiencing all of the above. I have friends who I met in the Circle Center Adult Day Care support group who are also primary caregivers for a loved one, At times, my friends look more challenged than who they’re caring for.
No one I have ever known looks forward to waking up in the morning (or middle of the night) to be bitten, hit, or barked at … especially by someone you love.
And yet, when caregivers share their stories with each other, they/we always express that we feel guilty for the way we feel. Or, feeling it must be something we’re doing (or not doing) to provoke the behaviors we’re on the receiving end of.
So, we just take it.
TOM’S WARNING: Caregiving is not for the weak of heart. You must be damn tall to ride this ride.
WHAT IT TAKES.
It takes courage.
It takes willpower.
It takes conviction.
It takes love.
And, if you are not careful, it takes you out.
Word to the wise: TAKE CARE!
Never forget, caregiving is a give and take proposition.
The problem is, we give so much, we forget the mission critical importance of the take part.
Caring for yourself and letting others care for you are the keys to your sustainability.
This is not a sprint … it is not even a marathon … it is a run for your life!
Take time outs.
Take time for yourself.
Take a cry.
Take a laugh.
Take a hot bubble bath … make a that a double.
Take help from yourself.
Take help from others.
Take care whenever and wherever you can get it and never feel guilty or unworthy.
Take guilt and the feeling of unworthiness and throw them away.
Take pride in what you are accomplishing and applaud the courage it often takes to meet the ever changing, always rearranging needs of your loved one.
Take whatever it takes to protect your individuality and your right to make a life for yourself.
Never forget … caregiving is a give and take proposition. If you do forget, it will come back to bite you.
For every give you give, make sure you take a take.
We’ve all heard the familiar mantra of the airline flight attendants during their pre-flight instructions, “…make sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to help someone else put on theirs.”
The question is, are you are listening?
Make this your mantra!
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and (the) wisdom to know the difference.”
Great stuff, Tom!!! This may be the best post of all. at least in terms of providing helpful advice to others who do or may have a loved one with dementia. Of course, if we don’t laugh sometimes, we might cry a lot more than we do in these situations, so please know that your funny posts are also very well received and appreciated.
Sounds like Helen is still much more versatile than my mother was. I never heard of her trying to hit anyone, but by golly, she was strong, and she could pinch the fire out of you when she did not want to be cooperative for whatever reason. She had to go to the hospital at the end because of a blood clot, and she pinched a couple of nurses pretty badly. My sister heard about it and told them how to deal with her much more successfully and safely! The trick was to call her “Mama” or “Liz,” and to only try to move her once they got into a position that would not give her the opportunity to clamp down on them. It went better after that. Helen is still able to make converstation I believe, and that is a great blessing. Mama lost that ability before too long, so communicating with her was a challenge unless you wanted a yes or no response, and it was a question she could understand.
I wish Mama’s caregivers had had the blessing of reading your blog, especially this one, but of course someone else will have benefit. I intended to read a book called “The 36 hour Day.” But I was still working and my work load and energy level did not allow me to do it. My step-dad and sister did, though, and I think it helped them. (Neither of them had paying jobs to do, but they put in a lot of houirs with Mama and had other things to do also. We hired some caregivers to help in the daytime, and were about to hire someone else to help at night, but the blood clot occurred and she never got to come home again.
Thanks again for sharing your journey with us, Tom.
Love you Tom! Melissa, you too!
Thanks Tom, this one was great.
Sent from my iPad
Beautiful. Understood. God bless y’all.
Tom. well said good & faithful son!!