I woke up alive and realized I needed to live the moments


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!

New week, new job, new hope – Keep Hope Alive Sunday!


intertwined hands

I am so excited to announce I got another job! Yea! It’s through another company that does caregiving/companion services and I will get the opportunity to move up in the company! In case anyone’s keeping score that will make 2 part-time jobs caregiving and will hopefully free me up to write more and earn more doing all of the things I love! That includes being the absolutely fabulously graceless crazy mama to the boy too!

It’s a small step but it is a step in the right direction! Being able to get back on the road to hopefully fully support us again is huge. I am so deeply grateful to my mama and friends who help me out but oh mah lawd I cannot tell you how this independent maotic human prefers to help others than to have to ask for help.

I still get to work with my Miss Candy and our knitting, shopping, pool adventures! That’s one of the best parts for me is to get to keep one of the things I love doing. Plus, you spend so much time with someone and they begin to feel like family. You trust each other and come to rely on how things work when you’re working together.

cg heart wheel

As I was going through the new employee orientation the things we cannot do are highlighted. Be on our cell phones, invite family and friends along, bring your pet, borrow money – to me something I would never do anyway but I understand, especially when you are sitting with someone who sleeps often or has Alzheimer’s and says, “Oh I don’t mind, invite/bring do whatever you want you’re family, dear.”

First of all, you go in knowing your client’s conditions. What they need, what the family wants, and how to work on their schedule. If you are working with a client with Alzheimer’s who is still cognitive and can talk about many things and sounds “normal” to you but then says something completely off like, “We should go to my house in the mountains you would love it.” This person is being completely genuine and in that moment, knows you both would have a good time. You probably would. But the point of your caring for them is so they don’t book tickets, make arrangements for these kinds of things. Most likely the family is paying for their care, yes out of their funds, but it is your job to help them day to day and that includes the trust of making sure things are in their best interest. Not yours.

I have had patients and clients ask me to go everywhere with them, offer to pay for things, and tell me to bring my pets, my boy and my friends and family over. All very well meaning, however I am doing a job. My job is just more personal than some. After all, I admit I have an attachment with these people. I also realize I am caring for them and responsible for them. I am not bringing my life, family and business to work.

They can persist in their asking and this usually involves me “redirecting” them. Redirecting is a term used in healthcare for doing what it says, redirecting that person into another conversation gently. Sometimes you have to say, “I would love to do that but I just don’t know when I could go as I have so much going on. That is so nice of you to ask me.” If they keep persisting, I will let the family know and keep going with the, “I wish I could go and I thank you but right now isn’t a good time.” One gentleman I worked with asked me for 4 months straight, always forgetting he had asked me before, to go home with him to see the family. The bus stop was just down the road and it wasn’t a long trip! With him I always said, “We will see” knowing he wouldn’t remember asking me earlier.

cg w patient

You also are not allowed to share your life with the client per se. It is fine to say you have a child, partner, pets, etc. but you do not share your drama, your needs or your complaints. As far as they are concerned your life is peachy keen. Yes, this may seem drastic and untrue, but really, it is not their business to know that your ex whatever is a jerk and not doing what they need to do, or that you are short on your bills or anything of the like. Again you are there to do a job. It still amazes me that people in this industry continuously cross that line. Talking with the office manager we both agreed if you are experienced you know where the line is. Sometimes it can be a fine line on a rough day but you do not cross it. Ever. It could cost you that job just by saying something too personal.

People think that it is so easy to just take care of someone. That it is a “cush” job and there is no skill or thought about it. It isn’t high paying, which is sad because these are human beings and people have no idea the challenges you can face taking care of folks. Maybe for some people it’s easy and they feel there is no skill involved and don’t care about the money, they will find “perks” from their clients. Those are the folks I would not want to take care of me and mine!

caregiving complez

This line of work isn’t for everyone. I know that. It is hard to form relationships with people who can’t always remember you, challenge you and even yell at you sometimes. In other instances it is hard caring for someone you know is not going to be on this earth much longer. Because you can’t help but care and you have formed a bond with them, their passing is hard on you. If they are blessed, you have also formed bonds with some of their family and once that “case is closed” you are working another “case” and “moving on.” But it isn’t always so simple. You go into this knowing the outcome for clients and patients. You tell yourself you will, of course, give them your best, but you will not let yourself get attached in any way to that person. Then you do. You can’t help it because it isn’t in your nature. At least it is that way for me. I love being able to care for people. Even those who are dying. I have often seen and experienced some of the most awe inspiring lessons from those “cases”. I cried with the families and I have cried with the staff when the patient has no family. I know that I did the best I could for them while they were in my care. Even for a brief period of time.

family care

So to say that I am happy about this new job is an understatement. I am once again doing what I love. I just pray it helps pay the bills and I can keep these two caregiving jobs, write and hopefully get paid all while caring for the boy.

After all, my motto Keep Hope Alive seems to be working!

Have a fabulous day!

 

Fabulous, crazed, keep hope alive Monday!


Hello and Happy Monday My Fabulous Graceless Friends!

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I am on a crazed mission with a 5 day countdown to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday and not everything is done!

I am also riding on the high of the fantabulous weekend I had with the boy and our friend. Since the boy will be gone for the next 3 weekends, I tend to go a bit over board in terms of spending time with him. Arcade, Hotel Transylvania 2, Alabama Football, Greek Festival and The Pumpkin Patch where he rode horses, played at the petting zoo and did bouncy things. Yes it was a bit overboard but FUN! And we didn’t get to go to the Butterbean Festival because of the rain but I think we did enough! We only got to carve one pumpkin but we can get the others done before Halloween! Overboard, maybe just a tish!

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He will fortunately be home before Halloween as it is our favorite holiday and we love to dress up, trick or treat and have our kind of fun. We now include his cousin, Baby HaHa, so named when he was still in the oven and his parents were not revealing his name and Baby HaHa stuck. It’s still ok to call him that now, but I am guessing by the time he’s a bit older, it won’t be so “cute”!

Today is filled with work and volunteering (read crazed calls and last minute errands for the walk) for me and school for the boy and this evening family gathering at my brother and sister-in-law’s.

It is also my parent’s anniversary, the second one without daddy. It is so strange with my daddy being gone. Just the other day I was thinking “It’s the first of October I know bow season starts sometime soon.” I know so many things because of my daddy. Things precious and special to me because of who taught them to me.

Maybe I may a bit nostalgic this week. I tend to get that way knowing the boy is going to spend time with his other family, even knowing he’s in good hands. Knowing I need a break and time for me and all the things I need to take care of I can’t always find time to do when he’s around but still. I miss him.

Here is where I know it’s time to sign off and not get too morose in my blogging!

I do wish you all a fabulously wonderful day!

This week is going to be amazing!

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Keep Hope Alive!

 

 

 

I can’t help but volunteer… Alzheimer’s is deadly


Do you every hear yourself saying “Yes” to an obligation while your mind screams “Are you crazy?! Noooooooo!”? This is my life and I can’t sometimes say no, especially if it is a good cause. Ugh!

Feeling dangerous I answered an unknown number. We all know that this could be Anything but I was feeling dangerous and adventurous so I sang “Hello” into my phone. I wasn’t expecting the cheery voice on the other end or someone who sounded generally happy to hear my voice. It was the new executive director of our local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. I had signed on to help with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but due to life, changes in their staff and chaos in my life nothing has gotten done. So the walk is in 3 weeks and nothing is done. She is 8 days into her job and the lady is amazing. Of course I said I would help. Of course I am making the calls I have been putting off for months. Of course I am going in next week to meet with her and don’t want to be empty handed!

Did I mention I am also working part time, being a full time mommy and trying to find more work? All while keeping my head above water and keeping hope alive!

I have lost my mind but at least my heart is in the right place!

Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease. I have had several family members and friends who have had this disease or are caregivers to those with the disease. Everyone is different but we all share the same feeling of this disease robs us of those we love and robs those we love from life.

I worked in an assisted living for 2 years with our primary patient having some form of memory impairment. I ran support groups, was team captain for walks and learned all that I could. I realized I wanted to work directly for the association so for 3 months I pestered the crap out of the person who would later become my boss, mentor and an amazing friend. I worked for the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association for nearly 6 years.

Since then I have helped countless family, friends and strangers through varying stages of this disease. I am in several online support groups and work in an industry where care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is in high demand. Sadly people are not paid well for taking care of our seniors. That does not stop me because someone has to help these people. These “people” may be me and my family one day. If we don’t help out now, Alzheimer’s will soon be an epidemic if it is not considered so already.

*Over 5 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Only 45% are told of their diagnosis versus 90% of cancer patients being told of their diagnosis. In 2015 it is estimated $226 billion will be spent on care. By 2030 there will be 70 million baby boomers who are at a greater risk for the disease. Alzheimer’s is the only one of the top 10 diseases that can’t be slowed, treated or cured. Alzheimer’s disease kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. There is help with the Alzheimer’s Association 24 hour hotline 1-800-272-3900 and web site www.alz.org.

Seeing those facts, being in the trenches and knowing what the future holds is why I said yes I would help.

I may be crazy and things will probably go a bit haywire but I will know that in some small way I have helped.

I urge you to give in some way to a charity you believe in. whether it’s time or money or passing along their information to someone who needs it, please give a little bit of time.

For me, I will be working with the Alzheimer’s Association of Central Alabama.

I hope you all have a fabulous day!

Keep Hope Alive!

Do you every hear yourself saying “Yes” to an obligation while your mind screams “Are you crazy?! Noooooooo!”? This is my life and I can’t sometimes say no, especially if it is a good cause. Ugh!

Feeling dangerous I answered an unknown number. We all know that this could be Anything but I was feeling dangerous and adventurous so I sang “Hello” into my phone. I wasn’t expecting the cheery voice on the other end or someone who sounded generally happy to hear my voice. It was the new executive director of our local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. I had signed on to help with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but due to life, changes in their staff and chaos in my life nothing has gotten done. So the walk is in 3 weeks and nothing is done. She is 8 days into her job and the lady is amazing. Of course I said I would help. Of course I am making the calls I have been putting off for months. Of course I am going in next week to meet with her and don’t want to be empty handed!

Did I mention I am also working part time, being a full time mommy and trying to find more work? All while keeping my head above water and keeping hope alive!

I have lost my mind but at least my heart is in the right place!

Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease. I have had several family members and friends who have had this disease or are caregivers to those with the disease. Everyone is different but we all share the same feeling of this disease robs us of those we love and robs those we love from life.

I worked in an assisted living for 2 years with our primary patient having some form of memory impairment. I ran support groups, was team captain for walks and learned all that I could. I realized I wanted to work directly for the association so for 3 months I pestered the crap out of the person who would later become my boss, mentor and an amazing friend. I worked for the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association for nearly 6 years.

Since then I have helped countless family, friends and strangers through varying stages of this disease. I am in several online support groups and work in an industry where care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is in high demand. Sadly people are not paid well for taking care of our seniors. That does not stop me because someone has to help these people. These “people” may be me and my family one day. If we don’t help out now, Alzheimer’s will soon be an epidemic if it is not considered so already.

*Over 5 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Only 45% are told of their diagnosis versus 90% of cancer patients being told of their diagnosis. In 2015 it is estimated $226 billion will be spent on care. By 2030 there will be 70 million baby boomers who are at a greater risk for the disease. Alzheimer’s is the only one of the top 10 diseases that can’t be slowed, treated or cured. Alzheimer’s disease kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. There is help with the Alzheimer’s Association 24 hour hotline 1-800-272-3900 and web site www.alz.org.

Seeing those facts, being in the trenches and knowing what the future holds is why I said yes I would help.

I may be crazy and things will probably go a bit haywire but I will know that in some small way I have helped.

I urge you to give in some way to a charity you believe in. whether it’s time or money or passing along their information to someone who needs it, please give a little bit of time.

For me, I will be working with the Alzheimer’s Association of Central Alabama.

I hope you all have a fabulous day!

Keep Hope Alive!