Movin On Up

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Yes, it’s true. We moved up. Not in social status like the Jefferson’s,
which the title is referring to, and if you don’t know what I’m writing about,
look it up and find a fun TV Series from the past. No, we moved on up to higher
living, meaning we now live on the third floor of a senior living community
rather than in our big four-bedroom home. I promised you some blogs about our
moving day, so settle in.

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I’m Not Okay! I Am But I’m Not.

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Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others’ faults. Be like running water for generosity. Be like death for rage and anger. Be like the Earth for modesty.
Appear as you are. Be as you appear.

Rumi

Photo by Jan Tancar on Pexels.com

I would guess my title is confusing. I haven’t written much about caregivers but I suspect there is so much they are not saying.

I’m not a stranger to working with someone whose memory is failing them. Being an only child I was the one to see that my mom got the care she needed. She was not very accepting of this care and didn’t like me very much until her last years.

My mother-in-law also had memory loss issues. My sister-in-law was the one that alerted us to the fact and so we tried to help with our mother and mother-in-laws care.

My sister-in-law, after taking care of her mother, also needed care and her husband and family stepped up and loved her as she was. Sadly we did not step up as much as we could have. We were one of those people who weren’t sure what to do so we stayed away, much to our regret now that we are wiser. I also think we were tired from my mom and my mother-in-law’s situation and deaths, and our way of coping was to stay away rather then to watch another family member struggle. We were not okay though we appeared to be.

My brother-in-law went from being a very capable person to one that could not navigate life on his own. My sister-in-law, his caretaker, tried to take care of him but she got tired and as a result, had a hard time making decisions about their life.

We tried to help in all of these situations. We were aware but we didn’t want to overstep, although occasionally we did, because we saw how tired their caregivers got and so we helped make some decisions.

The difference between that and my caregiving duties now is that for us or me, it wasn’t 24/7. I could leave the situation but in each instance, those family members that were caregivers never complained and would always say they were okay. It’s like a shame to admit we can’t always handle things on our own when we are caregivers. We become tired. Our decision-making is occasionally made out of tiredness because we can’t think about one more thing. Reaching out to others seems like a weakness and there is the fact that family and friends do not always know what to do or they feel uncomfortable.

There is also the guilt if we have to put a loved one in a facility where someone else cares for them. The reality I have seen is that tired caregivers aren’t always the best people to care for the people they love. A wife goes from being a wife to being caught up in the chores of making meals, juggling doctor appointments, seeing the house is safe and keeping their place of living clean. They become a mother not a wife. The world for both of them becomes lonely.

We are blessed as when we reached out we have been receiving wonderful support. My children help when they can and my daughter saw that I was too tired to find a place to live where things would be easier for us. She took charge and that was what I needed for us to make a move. It was hard to trust that job to another person, even my daughter.

Though my kids are supportive they haven’t been able to be here much because of distance and busy schedules. Appearances short term can be deceiving, hiding from our family the reality of what is actually happening on an hour to hour or daily basis. Family might think they know what we are going through but unless they spend days with us, they don’t, just like I didn’t get the full picture with all the people in our family that have had this issue before us. I didn’t live it all day and all night on my own like they did. It is mind-blowing and a wearing, bone-tiring job. There I said it. It is tiring.

I know my kids think I complain too much. I vent to them and I probably shouldn’t, and they give the only response they know how to give and most of the time that is: “It’s going to be alright.” And it is,and I don’t know what I expect them to say at that moment.

I think the gist of what I am saying in this long diatribe is this: I try to be positive and most days it works. I suspect that is true for most caregivers because we know what our loved one is going through is much worse. But there are days when we just want to shout to the rooftops “I am not okay.” But we don’t because of the response we get from others. We need our loved ones to understand we need for them to let us to not be okay for a moment, an hour, a day, so we can pull ourselves back up and go on with all the details our life now entails that we don’t want to do. Let us have those times and don’t feel uncomfortable when we feel that way. It will pass. We just may need to express it out loud. We’re not looking for sympathy we need to let it out and not bottle up unhealthy feelings.

I had a recent phone conversation with a person that has taken care of their loved one for a long time. Their children want them to move to somewhere where there is more help. The kids have given them brochures, telephone numbers etc. to no avail. The children have given up and said there is nothing more they can do and have resigned themselves that this is not going to end well.

In talking to their person recently, that is the caregiver, I said, “You’re just too tired to make any of these decisions, aren’t you? The thought of finding a place to move and then actually moving plus trying to tell your loved one is overwhelming.” They broke down and said, “Yes.” So the children and the parents are at an impasse because the children don’t understand this and the parent can’t communicate it. I imagine there are many scenarios like that.

If you’re reading this, take away from it what you want. I’ve found help through an Interfaith Caregiver’s group in my county and the VA , because my loved one is a Veteran. There are also county services you might qualify for and if you’re a Senior Citizen, the Senior Link Line is a great resource too. I know you’re tired, but reaching out to one of these might bring you some respite.

Don’t forget bout family and friends. They can’t help if they don’t know. Our kids, our extended family and friends, plus these groups have kept us going. God brings blessings when our tears fall. It’s okay to not be okay, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Minnesota Senior Link Line

Interfaith Caregiver’s

Alzheimer’s

Some of these are Minnesota Link’s but most states have their own resources.

The Constant Battle For Comfort

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Cats are connoisseurs of comfort. ~James Herriot

My Sunday thoughts this morning are on comfort. Not on the kind of comfort you might think I am referring to on a Sunday morning. Yes, I already read my devotions, said my prayers and then…I wiggled and tried to get comfortable in the chair I am sitting in. I wished I had an ottoman to rest my feet at the end of my easy chair.

Do you have those battles in your household on what is comfortable to each of you, the people you live with not understanding because what doesn’t fit you, fits them perfectly?

I am short, very short. Many chairs are not built for short people. One of my recliners hits my head at the wrong place and so the angle is always uncomfortable because it is hard to look up. The contour of the chair has my head crooked down. Most of the time I can’t rest my feet on the floor when sitting on certain chairs and sofa’s because I can’t touch the ground. Case in point, I never can touch the floor sitting on the church pews in church.

The same goes for the seats in a vehicle and the head rests. I always wondered at the wisdom of my grandchildren not being able to ride in the front seat with me because they weren’t tall enough. Their driver, me, was shorter than they were. I think I should invent a flamboyant booster chair for adult drivers that are short.

I like a soft bed, my spouse likes a hard mattress. I like an old dining room chair I bought at a sale and not the ones that sit by my dining table. The old chair keeps me at the level where the table is not above my chest. I keep replacing one chair with my old chair and my spouse keeps putting the matching dining room chair back up to the table.

Our stackable washer and dryer are gone and I am ecstatic. I could never reach to the back of the dryer without a little boost at my feet. I still have a bit of a fear of falling into my washing machine when I have to jump a little when reaching in to get my wet clothes out. It was a battle to get my spouse to understand what we had was not working for me because it was perfect for him.

My list could on and on. Can you relate? Small cars are not comfortable to tall people. Small chairs are not comfortable to large people. It’s irritating to them to always have to change the driver’s seat when sharing a car with a short person.

Don’t ever look at the top of my refrigerator or anything higher than my height. There is probably years of dust because I am the duster in the family and what I don’t see I don’t dust. I know its there but it’s easier to ignore.

It’s hard for us to understand what is uncomfortable for those around us if we have our comfort needs met. We dismiss the concerns and our lack of understanding on what works for others causes problems in relationships and friendships. We don’t want to give up our comfort or we secretly seethe with anger if we do.

I hope there are many that have found the art of compromise. Yet, we appear to living in an angry world. I can’t help but wonder if the anger stems from a need not being met or a concern not being heard. We seethe inside until we erupt like a volcano.

It might just take someone saying, “I hear you. We should work on seeing what might help.” Or it might take us not expecting others to meet our needs but seeing what we can do to make ourselves more comfortable. I bought the old dining room chair. Yes, it gets moved elsewhere but I can always put it back when I need it.

God made us all different. We have tastes and likes and needs that are unique to us. We are not like our neighbor. My neighbor likes a weed free lawn. I don’t really care about weeds. Some of them are pretty. However, what I do with my lawn affects his because my weeds infect his life. He puts up with my weed yard even if it causes more work for him. This year I sprayed my weeds. It’s a compromise. It’ll make life easier for him. He makes life easier for us by doing things for us that we can’t do anymore. We are both more comfortable in our lives because of it.

Yesterday a wise friend and I had a conversation about relationship dynamics. They pointed out to me our words, and I know mine are, get peppered with, “They won’t let me do that.” This person was right. We stop ourselves from living parts of our lives because of the lack of understanding of someone else of what we need for comfort for our body or our soul. I have to ask myself where I learned that. Do those people really stop us or are we stopping ourselves and using it for an excuse? Our life doesn’t need to fit someone else. It needs to fit us and only then can we be comfortable with others.

This is my Sunday morning rambling. I have no answers. I have a challenge for you. What are you going to do this week to allow yourself to have those moments of comfort that you need?

I’m going to get an ottoman so I can put my feet up in this chair that doesn’t quite fit me and relax. It can be moved when someone taller sits here. A small compromise for a big chair so we both can have our comfort.

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap.”

Ani DiFranco