Family caregivers must be prepared to make a difficult decision or some adjustment almost every day. When you bring a family member into your own home, there will be constant changes to deal with. Other family members, work schedules, and individual nutrition needs often complicate the matter.
We had my mother in our home for eight years; the first four were easier than the last. In the beginning, Mother could take care of herself with little help. She could manage her meals (if prepared ahead of time) and go to bed and get up when she wanted. I did not worry about her falling out of bed.
Mother had congestive heart failure and was later diagnosed with dementia. Life in our home seemed to change rapidly as her physical and mental health deteriorated. Most of her time was spent sitting in her comfortable chair. A home health aide helped with her personal care a few hours a week.
My concerns over needing more medical equipment and keeping Mother safe were verified when I was awakened by a light thud in the middle of the night. As I rushed into her room, I found Momma on the floor with her pillow and bed coverings.
I tried to smile as I calmly asked: “Momma, what are you doing down there?”
She kept staring at me as I untangled the blankets and checked her out. Finding that she had not suffered any injuries, I had to determine what to do next.
She responded with a big smile and lots of girlish giggles as I asked, “Are you having a slumber party?”
“Can I join you? We can sleep in the floor. I would like that.”
Her huge smile and a childlike twinkle in her blue eyes let me know for sure that she was going to be okay where she was for the present. There was no need to awaken everyone in the house. She definitely was not going anywhere by herself.
With no one available to help me until morning, I rolled her over onto some warm blankets, pillowed her head, and snuggled in beside her for the night. This was the beginning of another adjustment in the ever-changing life of a caregiver.
It was now time to get a hospital bed moved into our home and I was not emotionally prepared to lock her in bed. The clang of those cold bars as they clicked in place and her stare of disapproval cut deep. It did not seem right to lock my own mother up!
“Oh, Mommy, you will really like this new bed of yours.” Pointing at the rails I continued: “Look at this! You even have blanket holders to keep your blankets on the bed so you’ll stay warm all night long.”
It was important that I not show any frustration in my expressions as I continued: “And you have a brand new mattress-aren’t you just somethin’ now!”
For my mother in her situation, those silly little conversations helped us survive the constant changes without a lot of stress. Mother had become so much like a child, living in and for the moment at hand. She seemed to reflect the atmosphere around her. Did I necessarily want to giggle or to sleep on the floor? No! I wanted to share my frustrations with someone. I wanted to cry and complain because I had no help.
Your circumstances may be quite different from mine. However, the reality is the same in any given situation: our attitude and approach to unexpected events greatly influence how others will react. Whatever the ages of the persons involved, a smile and kind word will generally make difficult choices easier to manage.
My prayer is that this article will help you face your daily trials with ease and confidence. This one thing I can promise: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.” Somehow He always gave me the strength and wisdom I needed to make it through. I hope you rely on Him for help and comfort.