Sunday is usually reserved for napping in our family and today is the perfect day: it’s raining and the sound of water tapping on the window, the swooshing sound of tires making their way through water-clogged streets, and rain gutters spilling their contents outside the door are all welcome sounds.
It’s almost blissful.
It’s day seven of caretaking. Mark is starting the uphill journey of his long recovery (see previous post). Yesterday, I was in Philly for the Mid-Atlantic National Speaker’s Association and received my pewter microphone award. It was bittersweet because Mark wasn’t there. Initially, we had planned to spend the day together at King of
Prussia and eat at the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate.
Instead my weary mind was on hubby. Did he remember to take his pain medication? Did I remember to mark his med sheet? Did I leave enough water within reach? Is his walker by the sofa?
The presenter was excellent, Sharon Bowman, and her topic was based on her book, Preventing Death by Lecture. She touched on one point and I laughed out loud (the only one in the room who did!). Sharon talked about the “reticular activating system or reticular formation.” You know the feeling. You are driving on a stretch of road and end up at home. And you say to yourself, “How did I get here? I don’t remember the drive from A-to-B?” That’s because your brain went on auto-pilot. We do it at boring lectures or when another part of our brain is occupied (like trying to be two places at the same time).
So while I was at the National Speaker’s Association—although physically present at Valley Forge at the Radisson Hotel—my thoughts were at home with Mark. I was miles away from the table which was interactive in nature—learning all the techniques to make our speeches come alive and memorable. So what was happening?
Caregivers are in a unique role. I’ve been on the receiving end and have done some caretaking of friends who were going through the cancer journey, but never 24/7. As a writer, I’m in a unique position to record my thoughts, which are “blank” most days because I’m on overload.
So what does a caregiver do? Here’s the list: grocery shopping, house cleaning, cooking, shopping, paying bills, giving medicine, toileting, bathing, dressing, eating…to list a few.
Did you realize that 75% of women are caregivers? And most caregivers are between the ages of 35-64. I’m 52—soon to be 53—so I’m right smack dap in the middle. I’m a baby boomer caretaker for the next six months.
So how do I know if I’ve been stressed out in my duties, here are some signs: sleeping problems (too much or too little); change in eating habits (weight gain or loss); feeling tired or without energy; loss of interest in things you normally enjoy; easily irritated, angered or saddened; frequent headaches, stomachaches or other physical problems.
Yep (I checked all of the above, and it's only day SEVEN!).
My mom said to me last night, “Wow, you’re talking much better today. For the last two days you sounded irrational!”
I love my mom, so I evaluated my speech patterns over the last few days and realized, “Yes, I’m sure I did sound irrational.” I tend to get upset easily when my husband can’t walk, talk or toilet himself!
So what’s my care plan so I can care for me: Find out about community care giving resources, ask and accept help, stay in touch with family and friends, find time to exercise every day (even if its climbing the stairs at home), prioritize, prioritize, prioritize; join a support group for caregivers; eat right; take a multivitamin, and “take one day at a time.”
That’s Connie’s care plan for the next six months. So what about writing and speaking? I’m keeping a daily journal of my days, and writing the humorous and not so humorous moments. I’ve now added a new speaking topic to my list of keynotes which will be interactive: “Caring for the Caregiver: A Basic Plan to Stay Sane.”
If you know someone who is caring for someone full time, drop them a note and say, “I’m praying for you and by the way…here’s what I plan to do for you this week.” You may list as many things as you wish: run errands, drop off a meal (note I said “drop” it off!), mow the lawn, and pick up some groceries.
More tomorrow on the journey of caregiving!
caregiver, resources for caregivers, mental health, national caregiver day