Finding your best during Caregiving

I found Denise Brown and her Caregiving.com community in the fall of 2017.  It was more than three years since my Mom had passed from Alzheimer’s. Sometimes I still needed reassurance that the ways my life had changed were normal. I had read a bit about the National Caregiving Conference and decided to tune in to the Livestream to see what value it might have for us Alzheimer’s Kids. 

The presenters and panelists I saw were all positive survivors. They made me feel accepted. They made me feel normal. I realized I had found my tribe.

This year I’m thrilled to be a presenter myself at that same event.

Recently, NCC18 host Denise Brown led a Virtual Caregiving Summit to give Caregivers a taste of what they can expect at the conference. Denise invited Stephanie Antoine, Karen Laing and me for a late-afternoon virtual cup-of-tea and a chat about finding our best during Caregiving.  Here it is for you to enjoy.

If this was helpful, I invite you to watch the other 2018 Virtual Caregiving Conference videos. All of the interviews are with real Caregivers like you.  Their varied perspectives are likely to resonate with you, and may even spark some fresh ways of thinking.  Watch all the 2018 Virtual Caregiving Conference videos here. 

Mark your calendar for November 9-10, 2018. The Third Annual National Caregiving Conference (NCC18) will be held on those days at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare in Chicago Illinois.  Family caregivers and former family caregivers will share their experiences, insights and solutions. The great news is that the conference is available to both those who can travel to Chicago and those who benefit from attending via Livestream.  The preliminary agenda for the Third Annual National Caregiving Conference can be found here.

 I’ll be presenting Curiosity and Learning: Evidence you are doing a good job caregiving.  Often, Caregiving is a life-long vocation. I’ll be encouraging healthy Caregivers to measure success by what they learn.  I’ll introduce proven Lean Process Improvement principles and tools to make this a simple and rewarding practice. Join me on the COPING track on Saturday, November 10, 2018

I encourage you to check out Caregiving.com. I love the fresh perspectives of those caring for Loved Ones in varying conditions; and the reminder that Caregiver needs are the same even when our Loved One’s diagnosis is different. Caregiving.com was founded by Denise Brown in 1996 to help and support family caregivers.  Caregiving.com is a community of supportive individuals caring for a family member or friend. This community cares for parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents and anyone we consider family. Caregiving.com cares for you before, during and after caregiving.  http://www.caregiving.com

Your Friend on the Journey,

Barbara

 

Your parents keep secrets: The Great Cover-Up

ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND THEIR SECRETS


“The first sign I can remember? It was when Mom got lost driving home from the dentist,” Dad says.

“When was that?” I ask.

“After her first hip replacement.”

My forehead wrinkles as I do the math. “That was…fourteen years ago, Dad.”

“Yes.  That’s right.  She had worked really hard on a beautiful fruit salad, and she was supposed to be delivering it to the church.  But eventually, one of the church ladies called because they were expecting her and she never arrived.”

I am mesmerized.  This is the first time I have heard this story.  Mom is in hospice now, preparing for her journey to heaven.

“So what did you do?”

“Well, I kept an eye out for her.  And when she got home about an hour later, the fruit salad was beside her in the passenger seat.  I asked her what happened, and she told me that she decided to run an errand instead.  But I could see she was shook up.”

That makes two of us.

My mind floods with questions.  Why had I never heard this story before? Had Diane heard it? Had Dad taken action on this red flag to keep Mom safe on the road? To keep others safe on the road? 

A lifetime as his daughter helps me conjure up a quick list of possibilities why we are just now having this conversation:  1) Dad was resisting the truth, as I’ve done so often in recent years; 2) Dad was protecting us kids from what was happening with Mom; 3) Dad was worried about tipping us off and the impact that two meddling daughters would have on their privacy.  Whatever the reason, it all adds up to The Great Cover Up.

Dad is too sad tonight for me to probe any further. 

What can you do to get past your Caregiver’s Cover Up and learn the truth of what’s happening?  And if you never do, how can you learn to forgive yourself…and them?

What a stressed caregiver sounds like

ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND THEIR STRESS

“Give me a break,” Dad snaps.  “Do you think we keep this place a pigsty?” It is now 9pm and Mom has gone to bed. Dad’s been up since 4am.  He’s toast.

“Of course not,” I respond. “I seriously just want to know what you think about Diane coming up to put all your important papers in a fireproof box.”

“And just why would we need Diane to get our papers together? Do you think we are going to lose them or something?” Dad barks back.

Clearly, Diane’s well-intentioned offer has insulted Dad.  I take a deep breath, and then try a new approach.

“Last month, Diane moved her important papers to a fireproof box.  So she thought it would be nice to do the same thing for your papers.”

Dad pauses before replying. “I’ll have to ask your mother.  Anyway, why would she need to come all the way here do such a simple thing? I manage this place on my own just fine, you know.”

“The box is a gift Dad. A present,” I explain.  “And the visit is just because she loves you. It’s just that simple.  We love you, Dad.”

In these moments, I know that Alzheimer’s caregiving leaves Dad sleep-deprived, needing more patience, and yearning for even the smallest hint that the disease might be slowing down.  Still, it surprises me every time he comes back at me.  After all, I’m in touch. I’m trying. I care.

In time, I realize that, as Dad grows his Caregiver skills on this Alzheimer’s journey, I have an opportunity to grow my compassion and forgiveness skills. Plus patience, which has been on my growth list for years. 

We both have our work cut out for us.

Do you find your parent’s Alzheimer’s journey giving you opportunities to grow in surprising ways?  If so, how are you responding to these growth opportunities?