Monday, 23 November 2015

4 new hats to wear while I'm a carer

#midlife blog crestingthehill.com.au

There was a big change in our peaceful empty nest last week.....my mother moved in with us for a few weeks while she recovers from knee replacement surgery. She lives alone in the city and there was no way in the world I would let her go home on crutches! This decision has brought with it a few changes in my usual routine.

Everyone knows someone who cares for a relative, my good blogging buddy Rena over at the Diary of an Alzheimers Caregiver looks after her mother full time and there are plenty of others who step up when they are needed. What no-one tells you is the part about taking on a whole swathe of new roles where you change from one hat to the next at any given moment.

Hat #1 Chauffeur


The first new hat was chauffeur/personal driver - starting with a drive up and back to the big smoke to pick her up from hospital. She isn't allowed to drive for six weeks, so the passenger seat is her new mode of transport. There are trips to the physiotherapist, trips to the coffee shop, trips to the doctor, trips to visit people, and the list goes on. My little car has done more mileage in the last week than it has in the month leading up to then!

Hat #2 Chef 

Cooking for two is a lot easier than cooking for three. You know what the two of you like to eat and it's usually fairly plain and simple (we're always watching our waistlines to try to minimize the kilo's creeping on). Now I need to take my mum's tastes and preferences into consideration and cater to someone who rarely eats a vegetable any more. She is getting a few lessons in healthy meal preparation - her's had fallen by the wayside since living by herself. The shopping bill is bigger and the meal planning is more involved - it's like having the kids home for a visit (only longer!)

Hat #3 Nurse 

I'm not well known for my care and compassion and my sympathy levels are fairly low. I can muster a fair degree of initial sympathy but my levels dwindle rapidly. It's the standing joke in our house that everyone is allocated two days of sympathy a year from me and then they're on their own! Fortunately I was prepared for the fact that I'd have to be at mum's beck and call for a couple of weeks, so I was prepared to do my noble daughterly duty for the length of her stay..... sadly, that hasn't stopped it all from driving me a little bat s**t crazy. There's only so much groaning, complaining and sighing that I can handle before I need to take some time out. Hopefully no-one else will get sick in the meantime or I could be in crisis mode!

Hat #4 Maid 

An extra person is an extra set of sheets and towels to wash and change and extra little chores and errands. I can't expect mum to be changing her bed sheets or getting herself cups of tea when she's in pain every time she stands up or sits down. The whole reason she's here is to save her having to manage on her own. I think I should have given her a little bell to ring so I don't need to check on her all the time, but in all honesty, she's not really all that hard to look after.

This has been a steep learning curve for me - putting someone's needs first and foremost every day is quite draining when you're used to sailing through relatively calm seas. Knowing it's only for a few weeks makes it much easier to cope with and it's been good for mother and daughter bonding time. Things are a lot less peaceful at the time being, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - you can get too complacent when the nest is empty for too long!

22 comments:

  1. You'll surive Leanne and feel so much better knowing that you did the best for her. But I have to agree with you on number 3. I'm not one to put up with peoples groaning, complaining and interfering. But I guess that is something that we tend to do more of as we get older - or is that a cliche?

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    1. thanks Mary - I'm doing a lot of smiling and moving on with things. It's wearing for her and for us so it's a double banger but a necessity all the same.

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  2. You are wonderful for doing all the roles! About the bell, I looked after my Mother for only 4 days and gave her a bell. At day 4 my Mother said to me after she rang the bell, "Hate the bell yet?" We all laughed because she was feeling better and her sense of humor had returned and I had not tried to kill her with the damn bell and she knew and appreciated that fact.

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    1. I'm afraid matria-cide (is that when you kill your mother?) would probably be committed if there was a bell involved Haralee. I think by the end of the next couple of weeks I'll be glad there was no bell :)

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  3. You rock.
    And need one more hat: YOUR OWN CHEERLEADER.
    <3 <3 <3

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    1. A few rah-rah's would not go astray at the time being Carla!!

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  4. I did this with my mother and it was, to say the least, challenging. You are a great daughter!

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    1. I like the word "challenging" Sharon - it pretty much sums things up around here at present :)

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  5. You are a good daughter Leanne - and I am hoping your mom heals quickly! As a nurse, I have to say that one's own family are always the toughest patients to take care of and be empathic with! I think it is because the shift doesn't end ;)

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    1. I agree Susan - it's the fact that it goes on and on (and I wake up and it starts again) that is a little wearying at times. It's only short term though and that is the saving grace of it all.

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  6. Glad you're doing this. I've been a caregiver for my mother post her bi-pass surgery and then a stroke. She's not the easiest of patients, and I'm not the most patient - what made it harder was that it was in my parents' home. But I learned a lot during those days and I'm sure you will too.

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    1. Wow Corinne - you put me in the shade with that one! I think there will be a lot of us with a tale to tell about elderly parents and nursing them as time goes on. We'll all be able to compare notes!

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  7. You nailed it! I did some of this with my own mom and really, it was a gift to be able to give of myself that way.
    Carol
    http://carolcassara.com/how-to-be-a-good-friend/

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    1. I think I was more optimistic about by tolerance levels Carol - they wane at times, but all in all it's not too bad in the grand scheme of things.

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  8. I can relate to this. I had my parents over last year - perfectly healthy - but the dynamics at home changed pretty drastically, and that required a very high level of tolerance.

    You are doing the right thing though, after all we can only depend on family. Wishing your mom a full recovery. :)

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    1. thanks Shanaya - I'm glad I'm doing it - but it's a stretch of patience at times!

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  9. OMG! I was reading along and then all of a sudden "...batshit crazy and I lost it. Woke the hubby up, he'll get over it! I bet your doing a splendid job. In all honesty I've always been the same kind of mom and I was worried. Nobody is compassionate every single second of the day. You just do your best and know that it's only temporary, but this may be a time to have a talk about when she gets older and can't take care of herself. It's always a good idea to have a plan in place so that everyone knows there roles and nothing is a surprise. Thank you so much for the shout out. I was so surprised!

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    1. As soon as I opened my mouth and offered to have her stay here I immediately thought of you and your mum! I haven't strangled her yet so things aren't going too badly.

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  10. I love this well written post! So raw, honest and funny at times! You've done your best and that's what counts and yes, good mother-daughter times are a bonus! Thank you for linking up with #abitofeverything

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    1. my pleasure - I do love your linky and it's nice to share my ups and downs with you :)

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  11. Leanne, I am feeling for you. Levi, our son, is home and he has appointments every day of the week, sometimes 2 appointments, so I am driving him, a lot. Or we are home together, every moment of the rest of the day. I love it, really I do. But I'm used to doing what I want on my own schedule. It sounds like you are too. I empathize with you. At least Levi can get around physically, I hope that you and your mom both make it through the next few weeks! I know you can do it. Breathe!!!

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    1. thanks Nikki - you don't realize how comfortable you are in your little routines until someone comes along and throws the mix out. I'm readjusting and finding it easier as we go along but there was certainly a period of sucking it up and smiling (with gritted teeth!)

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