Making Lasagna

There are so many of us that hash over what we do wrong and not what we do right as caregivers. Out of the 1440 minutes in a day, you can have 1 bad minute and downward spiral into a depression or guilt trip or obsessive self criticism. Nevermind the 1439 minutes you spent being a fabulous caregiver. It is easy to forget the smiles you brought or the meals you fed or the clothes you changed and laundered and the countless times you answered the same questions.

Just those 60 seconds (maybe less) of impatience, irritability or exhaustion can wreak havoc on your mindset for days, weeks or longer. It is a cycle that is almost impossible to break if you are constantly looking to compare yourself to other caregivers or have high expectations of yourself and your ability to maintain perfection in the midst of crisis after crisis, unexpected changes and witnessing firsthand the decline in your loved one.

You probably didn’t go to school to learn how to be a caregiver. You have taken on this role and this task because you are a loving daughter, son, husband, wife, sister, brother or just an amazingly giving person. Whatever your relationship is with the person you take care of, you care. You don’t walk away. You stick around day and after day. And you are human. You are going to have times you feel like you can’t do it anymore. But you do. You are going to get frustrated and want it all to be over. And one day it will be. But in the meantime, you are doing the best you can. You are going to feel guilt for being healthy and not sick. Try to enjoy your abilities and use them to take better care of yourself. You are going to regret not doing enough. Focus on all you do. You are going to wish you had known the timeline and had prepared more. There is no guaranteed timeline for any of us and see back to my reference of not being trained and educated for this 24 hour “job”.

You are you. You are a caregiver and sometimes you will do amazing things. But you are human and not perfect. Therefore, you will do some things that are not quite so amazing. You may be ashamed. You may feel inadequate. Don’t. There are 86,400 seconds in each day. You are allowed to take 60 or 120 or 180 of them and not be perfect. Focus on all the seconds you are.

9 thoughts on “The Seconds of the Day

  • Stacie Larson

    I thank God for the focus now on Alzheimer’s. Increased research on any brain disorder is bound to increase knowledge of all brain disorders. However, It’s a bit distressing to me to see other, more common, brain disorders ignored. There is little or no appreciation for all the millions of caregivers doing their best to keep their seriously mentally ill family members out of trouble.
    But, knowledge is power. I have found great help and support from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness.) There are affiliates all over the U.S. that offer free classes and other support. Their website is nami.org for contact information. Most of their “staff” are volunteers giving their time just because this is important to them.

  • Linda

    Thank you. My mom is 88 and I am an only child. These tips have helped me a lot. Mom doesn’t have dementia yet, just a few lapses in memory. Because she is alone now she is pretty demanding of my time. I have physical disabilities and feel overwhelmed.

  • Dana Meddaugh

    Wow, that helped to read that. I do find myself losing my patience. Now I feel that it’s ok to not be perfect. 🙂

    Thanks,

  • Sandra

    Wow, I needed this in this moment on this day! Thank you for sharing.

  • MS Vitus

    Although I am not dealing with Alzheimer’s, I am dealing with the aftermath of my husband’s stroke, his diabetes, and beginning dementia. I found this article to be so true. It is very hard to stay positive when you get no reinforcement from your “person”.

  • Rick Alexander

    You told me to focus on the positive.
    I think I am reliable and consistent. Debbie knows she can count on me to be where she needs me…as long as she tells me. There are occasionally bumps in the road, of course.
    The biggest help is that we try not to “over-help.” Within safe boundaries, I try not to help Debbie when she can do something herself. That would be robbing her of her dignity.
    That’s very general and I could be much more specific given time and space. Or someone to pull it out of me!

  • Rose Emery

    Thank you for the reminder. My husband died 6 months ago and it’s too easy to reflect on the final 6 weeks and focus on what I might have done better or what I might have said that would have been more comforting or more compassionate in his final days–conscious or unconscious. People tell me I did a wonderful job. However, I was not perfect and there are no second chances. I will do my best to refocus. Again, thank you.

  • Melissa Seaver

    Sometimes I do feel like I am loosing patience, or loosing my mind, yes, I do feel guilty when I over sleep and when I get sick!

    Most of the time I don’t feel as if I can do enough for my husband, my mother-in-law
    Or my kids/grandkids! Or even my Dad!

    I have to make my self get up very early to take a shower, wait until everyone is in bed to do laundry, sometimes I am too tired to sdo the dishes, so I buy plastic!

    If there is something they say they would like to have to eat or anything, I rob Peter to pay Paul so that I can get what they want or need!

    I feel really bad that I haven’t got the farm situation taken care of ,nor been able to pay for the pre arranged funerals! They won’t give Mayme a cancer diagnosis, so her Insurance will help pay for her funeral! Jamie says they won’t give it to her( even though she has is)!

    The thing I know I love my family!

  • Margaret

    I lost mom to Alzheimer’s exactly 6 months ago. I didn’t know a thing about Alzheimer’s! Didn’t know she had it until about two years in. Once she was diagnosed, I researched like crazy. Experimented with the drugs on the market for Alzheimer’s, of which none worked. The next two years were the hardest years of my life. She never slept, she wanted to go home all day, every day. She searched for her babies, cried constantly. She was combative. My mother was never combative. She was the sweetest woman on earth in my eyes! The struggle to adapt to whatever the days brought was exhausting! I thought about a facility that could take her and care for her, but only for a split second! I could never have lived with myself had I put her in a home. Now, I would never criticize someone else for doing the same, I just couldn’t. I would have never slept, been there everyday, and my worry would have increased 10 fold. I didn’t find this site until well into the 4th year of her battle. I ran out of time to research. She required my attention every waking minute. She was losing her balance, falling, getting herself stuck in the bathroom. It was maddening not knowing what was coming next. But she slowing began losing her ability to walk, eat and use the facilities. That’s when I needed to call in for help. My Doctor recommended Hospice. I shuddered at the thought and I didn’t make that call until a few months later. That call changed everything! Their 1st visit to my home was an emotional train wreck for me. I didn’t see an end to mom’s life, I didn’t. I thought she would be here forever with or without this disease! She was a fighter and she wasn’t giving up. But God had another plan for her. Hospice sent the kit that contained medication to help her relax. Meds to help with pain, breathing difficulties, etc. They offered a wealth of information but more importantly, they understood my every emotion, my struggle and my angst to make the decision to get them involved. A huge weight lifted off my shoulders that day. Just knowing they understood was a tremendous relief. Mom lasted seven months. I watched as her frame became weak and tiny, and she could no longer walk. We had to feed her. Carry her to and from bed. She was incontinent. She could no longer do anything for herself. I was fortunate enough to be able to care for mom for 5 years, while working full time. My amazing husband cared for her while I worked. The last 3 months of her life were the greatest gift I could ever have received. I was able to just love her, immensely! She became my baby! I miss her terribly and I wish I knew the timeline. Not that much would have changed but there certainly would be some things I would have slightly altered. This site is a wonderful asset to anyone having to care for a loved one or patient with Dementia or Alzheimer’s! You are not alone! Thanks for being my support!

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