Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Caregiving: You have a physics test tomorrow...and you know nothing about the subject.

We know the C in Crazy means Caring. Your basic focus is caring for the caree.

The R represents Realistic. As much as you would like for everything to be perfect in your caregiving experience you know it won't be. As long as the caree is safe, everything after that is a bonus.

The A in Crazy stands for Ask. Here's a way to think about the caregiving experience: What if I came to you and said, "You have a physics test in an hour, get ready"?

You do not have a textbook, you've taken no classes, you know some folks who have studied physics and you can probably call them and ask some questions, but for the most part, you're on your own.

How would you react?! Would you simply say, "Sorry, Mike...but, I'm not taking the test"?

Here's the problem, for most people the physics example is EXACTLY how they come to the caregiving experience. Something happens to a loved one...stroke, heart attack, auto accident, you name the event, and a doctor walks into the waiting room and offers the diagnosis and what the future looks like. And all of a sudden they're a caregiver.

No preparation, no warning.

Believe me, in February, 2012, when my brother and I were standing in the darkness on the cold steps of our mother's house looking through the door's window and seeing her walking around, half-dressed, lost in her own house with us trying to call to her and get her to unlock the door, we looked at each other and knew that life as we had known it was over. It was now physics test time.

Recently, I was talking with a woman whose mother had passed away a few weeks ago. She is struggling with the loss and what to do about her dad who is in the early stages of Alzhemier's. She has two step-siblings and she has simply walked away from her father's care. She called her step-siblings and simply said, "I can't do this, you'll have to take care of him."

Not all of us have the "luxury" of having help who will step up and deal with the situation. For many of us it's us or no one. The pressure can be/is overwhelming.

In the next day or two I'll offer a simple questioning strategy that not only helps you figure out what to ask/do, but literally makes you smarter.

Good luck, and don't let caregiving make you crazy!

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