I rolled out of bed groaning and stumbled to the bathroom to start the getting ready process. Shortly after, I cheerily woke up the boy from his angelic looking sleep and watched him stumble his way to the bathroom and then get himself dressed.
I was putting on the last of my war paint when the text came through that one of our good caregivers was out sick and I needed to fill the shift. I doubled my speed for getting out of the house, changed into scrubs and we left for the day.
My clients were way across town, out in the country. I somewhat know their routine and knew they would be getting hungry and breakfast is part of their routine.
I arrived only a few minutes later than their normal caregiver, “T”, but they remembered me and were happy to have someone there to “assist” them for the day. Mr. K met me at the door with a smile and Miss P was still in the bed. One glance around told me that they had been pretty much alone all weekend, as “T” and I worked together to help make them a schedule and keep things consistent for them. We have a system for them to follow and have shared it with their children. Their family is involved in their care but they have lives and families to raise too, so we are there to help mom and dad.
It isn’t that mom and dad, or P & K, are all that up in years, they are both 70 with her just having a birthday. Their bodies are healthy for the most part and they love to talk, laugh and enjoy life. They no longer go as much as they use to because they are both in different stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. They are like thousands of others in the Boomer generation that are still “young at heart” and in need of care due to a terminal diagnosis.
Miss P has middle stage Alzheimer’s and needs help bathing, getting dressed and can no longer cook or clean. She talks some, more in the afternoons, but she is so sweet and a joy to be around. She has no problem with me bathing her and “helping” her get pretty for her husband. As long as she knows where he is, and I gently remind her if she gets anxious, she is fine.
Mr. K has early stage dementia. He “runs” the household and “helps” Miss P. She is his world and he talks of “his beautiful pearl” and “young blushing bride” as though it is now. You can see the love they share. He knows her memory is “bad” and that she needs help. He knows he “forgets” things but he has reminders and that is why I am there to help them.
We do our best to communicate anything that goes on to each other so that their weekdays flow consistently, or at least a semblance of it.
To watch her struggle to remember how to remove her clothes and thank me over and over again for being so “nice” to “help” her get bathed and dressed for the day, it breaks my heart. I think back to earlier that morning, was it really just that morning? When I got the text I would be covering for T and my day with them.
To see people so vulnerable in so many ways because by nature they are kind and trusting, but now we add in the memory loss factor and I worry for them. My problems and irritations seem to shrink in light of what they face on a daily basis. Not that I don’t have my own issues and hardships, but that I can get so irritated over something so small at times, or that I got so caught up in something I missed something beautiful. It makes me rethink what I see as important.
I think of how my mind works and how I ponder which thing was more important and then I will jump to another topic. I also will multitask and continue on with the flow of my day. I just know what needs to be done and I do it. I may miss things, but I know it’s on the list for tomorrow even if there is no actual written list. Then I stop. Their lives are no longer like that. They can’t remember things as clearly or even at all in some instances.
That afternoon I drove straight from their home through craptastic traffic to get the boy. I knew we had things to do, I still had to work and there were chores to finish, but I scooped him up and hugged and kissed him immediately. I savored the little boy sweat smell and the way he holds me so tight. I want those memories to always be there. I don’t ever want to lose that part of me. If I forget everything else, I want to remember he chose me to be his mommy.
I woke up alive but after going through the day I realized how alive I needed to be and I am thankful that I was reminded just when I needed it.
Keep Hope Alive and have a fabulous day!