A Perfect Caregiver?

By Robert Elmer III on September 12, 2013 in Memory, Seniors

Time and time again I find I am talking with Caregivers who are frustrated with the fact that, as hard as they try, they don’t get it right every time. Well, as the saying goes, “welcome to the club.” I’d like to tell you that as a “Master Trainer” of Alzheimer’s Care that I can come up with a solution to a particular behavior in two minutes flat but that’s rarely the case. In many situations it may require a great deal of patience and effort before you find the right solution. I can hear many of you saying, “you can say that again”  and that’s OK too.

At my fathers funeral, as the oldest son, it was my responsibility to share some thoughts and insights at his “Celebration of Life” service. During that time I asked the rhetorical question “Was he the perfect father? No.” I then asked, “Was I the perfect son? No.” My point is that no one can be the perfect caregiver any more than there’s a chance you could be a perfect child or perfect parent. As a caregiver, if you haven’t already experienced this, you will have your good and bad days just like the loved one you’re caring for and that does NOT make either of you bad people.

There are a number of resources out there for you and it’s perfectly acceptable to accept help. If friends and family ask if they can help, say yes. Remember that it’s harder to ask for help than it is to accept it so when the opportunity presents itself to have someone go to the grocery store, pick up a prescription at the pharmacy or stay with your loved while you have breakfast with the guys or go get a manicure or pedicure, allow them to help. Regarding those that may stay with your loved one while you’re out, remember that you want to make sure that if you do have someone willing to stay with your loved one that it’s someone they feel safe with. I can immediately think of two situations where the family brought in complete strangers to be a companion and it did not go well. First and foremost neither companion had any understanding of Alzheimer’s dementia. In one case, “mom” locked herself in the bathroom and told the companion to leave and she did. Now a very confused and scared person is alone and locked in her own bathroom. In the other example, Dad, who lived in a very high end senior housing community, wants to know who this stranger is in his apartment and he throws her out. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there as Dad goes for a walk to his daughters house. Imagine the surprise when she looked out of her kitchen window to see her father walking up the driveway. In both cases, the families meant well, they just went about things the wrong way. Some of you may find consolation in the fact that Dad decided to walk to his daughters and that’s understandable. The bad news is, just like with driving, one of these days he will forget the way. In my “10 Healthcare Mistakes” article I mentioned that just because Dad or Mom with memory challenges can drive to the store and find their way home doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Why not? Because one of these days they will find themselves on the side of the road, 75 miles from home, out of gas and with no idea of how they got there.

Along with private help there are many professional resources that are available that I’ll cover in a future article. If you have any questions please email me at repe@careforcare.yabanjin.com and I’ll answer them directly or in a future article and remember…Join the Journey.

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