We had to face reality. Finally, we realized we could no longer pretend this wasn’t happening; the situation at home would never improve – the decline continued. We had to have help for the sake of safety if nothing else.
Our first plea for help went to Home Health Care, and they were lifesavers to us. They made regular visits to the house, made sure medications were in order, checked vitals, gave baths, and most importantly, became friends to Mom and Dad. Their visits brought laughter and good conversation about growing up on a farm and working in the oilfield. Their goal, they explained, was to bridge the gap between home and the next level of care. I wanted to believe that this level, Home Health Care, was all we needed; surely it would be sufficient for the duration.
However, the decline continued, and soon it became obvious that, rather than 2-3 visits a week, we needed help every day, all day. Home Health Care was never intended to be a long-term solution, but I had foolishly imagined that it could be.
It seemed that things were always changing; each new solution worked for a while but not forever. Eventually, after many tough decisions and heart-wrenching conversations, we had full-time care. Many times, families provide this care in the home, but in our case, it wasn’t possible for several reasons. These decisions aren’t easy to make, and many times, the process can cause anguish and guilt for the family. I wrestled with this for a long time.
The caregivers we eventually found came to be like family to us. In fact, at some point, we started calling them “lovegivers” instead of “caregivers”.
SOME OF THE THINGS I LOVED ABOUT THE LOVEGIVERS:
- They showered Mom and Dad with many warm hugs, sweet kisses and heartfelt “I love you’s”.
- The lovegivers looked for ways to turn the “ordinary” into “extraordinary”…like the time they served take-out hamburgers and fries in old fashioned red burger baskets, along with coke floats.
- They cared for Mom’s “baby”, handling the doll gently, never tossing her aside at mealtime, but rather offering to babysit so the Mama could enjoy her lunch.
- They kept them clean; showers were given, teeth were brushed. Days were not spent in pajamas and bare feet, and Dad never went without a shave. Shirts were tucked in, hair was neatly brushed, and even accessories like hats and jewelry added some extra sparkle.
- The lovegivers seemed to understand this strange ALZ language perfectly and knew exactly how to respond…when to laugh…what questions to ask….always focused on the importance of the conversation.
- The lovegivers snuggled next to them, squeezing in between the arm of the recliner and a bony hip, offering comfort and security.
Now you know why we eventually started calling these caregivers “lovegivers”. They not only cared with their hands and feet, working hard to be sure all were clean, well-fed, comfortable, and so forth, but they also cared with their hearts and loved them deeply.
LOVEGIVING can happen anywhere
It occurs to me as I’m writing this – we all are caregivers to some degree, whether to parents, grandparents, children, friends or neighbors. Lovegiving can happen any place, on any day…not just by professional caregivers in a memory care home. Many are doing these very things at home for their loved ones. In other cases, families are stepping in to be the lovegivers in nursing homes where the staff may not understand Alzheimer’s or be trained in the art of lovegiving – something that comes naturally for some but can be learned by all.
Remember…caregiving is a hard job; some patients can be very difficult, and many caregivers in the home are exhausted physically and emotionally. If you have a friend or neighbor who is caregiving, check on them often, take them a meal, offer help when you can…be a lovegiver.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13: 4, 7
#Alzheimers #Dementia #EndAlz #DancingChaosBook
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