Monday, January 14, 2019

Care Giving



Websters definition of care giving is the activity or profession of regularly looking after a child, or a sick , elderly or disabled person.

Today's post is on a subject very near and dear to my heart.  I have been involved in some form of care giving for 30+ years.  I say some form because mine has been more of an "overseer of care."  I have never, at this time, cared for anyone full time in our home.  Just what I have done and am doing now can be tough and I cannot imagine doing it 24/7 and never being able to escape it.  My heart goes out to the many that fall into that category.


My first experience with care giving or being the "overseer of care" was in 1987.  The time came that my paternal grandparents (pictured above) could no longer live alone.  My Dad was their only child, his only sibling had died many years earlier.  Daddy was pastoring a church in Virginia and his parents lived in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  Daddy discussed moving them to a facility near he and Mom and that did not go over well, they simply could not imagine moving 1000 miles away from all that was familiar to them.  So, they told my Daddy that they would come to Louisiana where our family lived.  After much discussion between me and my Daddy it was decided that they would move here into a nursing facility.  They were 82 and 80 at that time.  Little did I know what I had agreed to do.  And, you know, it was one of those times that "ignorance was bliss."  If I had had any idea what the next 12 years would hold, I would likely have never agreed to being their "over seer." I made the decision basically for my Dad and he came when he could but that was generally only a couple of times a year.  I was the one who took them to the Dr., made sure that they were getting the best care possible at the nursing facility, and the list goes on and on.  I spent more hours in the emergency room than the law allows.  After 7 years my Grandpa passed away and we felt like my Grandma would not be far behind.  They had been married 68 years and we couldn't imagine her living without him.  But, that was not the case, she lived on for 5 more years and died at the age of 92 in 1999.  They gave me my first training as "overseer" of care.  It was a balancing act for me because our children were 8 and 11 when I took on this responsibility. And, lest any of you misunderstand, there were a lot of blessings that came out of those 12 years as well, but it was still a lot for me to deal with a lot of the time.  But, the Lord knew that this was not to be my last "over seeing" job and He was preparing me for the days ahead and I did not even know it. 


A few short years  later my precious mother in law was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  She had moved into an assisted living facility before her diagnosis and was able to live there for some time.  Her needs became such that she had to be moved in a nursing facility. Her two daughters lived 8-10 hours away so I often took the lead in overseeing her care. They both came regularly but, obviously, could not be involved in her day to day care.  She was such a lovely and dignified lady and it broke my heart to see what this terrible disease was doing to her. I assisted my husband in making sure that her needs were being met as much as possible and made arrangements for extra help in her last months of life.  I found out very quickly with both my grandparents and my mother in law that any one in a nursing facility had better have a good advocate.  They had better have someone coming and going regularly.  It is the ONLY way that they would get the care that they deserved and to the very best of my ability, I made sure she got the best possible.  My mother in law passed away in January of 2008.



On December 1, 2008, just 11 months to the day that my MIL died, my sweet Momma died.  She suffered a massive stroke and lived about 48 hours.  It was so unexpected and sudden and rocked my world unlike it had ever been rocked before.  But, in time, I realized how blessed she was and we were that she did not live in the condition she was in and the Lord was gracious.  There was no need for an overseer to her care. 


Just about the time I had wrapped my head around the loss of my Mother, my Dad was stricken with Guillian Barre Syndrome (you can Google it if you are not familiar with it) in June of 2011. To put it in a nutshell, he was a vibrant 81 year old man who within 24   hours was flat on his back, and helpless as a lamb.  I spent 3-4 weeks with him in a Shreveport hospital (about 120 miles from here).  My youngest brother came every chance he could from Iowa to help me.  To make a long story short, Daddy had to go into a nursing facility once he got out of the hospital to begin physical therapy to regain use of his arms, legs and to regain his voice.  The Drs. gave us no guarantees on his recovery or if he would even live.  But, within 6 months he had recovered to the point that he could leave the nursing facility and move into an assisted living facility.   It was nothing short of a miracle.  That was almost 8 years ago and he is still at the same facility.  

Over this past 8 years Dad's Macular Degeneration has progressed to the point that he is now legally blind.  He can see nothing but imagines.  He cannot read anything, he cannot see the TV and his world has gotten very small due to his blindness.  But, he manages very well in his little apartment.  I have contracted with a medication nurse who gives him his daily meds and I oversee, very closely, the rest of his care.  

And, I would be lying if I said that I do not get tired of it.  Yes, I do!  He is constantly on my mind and there are times that he can be very demanding.  He can be snarky and I sometimes leave him with tears in my eyes.  And, this does not mean  that I love him any less, but I have been at this "overseeing of care" business for a very long time and I get weary of it at times.  And, I dare say, if anyone of you reading this have been in my shoes, you totally agree.  

I cannot imagine caring for someone 24/7 and I'm so thankful that I can leave Daddy and know that he is getting the best possible care we can afford at this time.  Of course, that is because I stay on top of all his needs and I am his greatest advocate and if you mess with him, you will give an account to ME.  I cannot tolerate folks not doing their job or acting as though the elderly just really do not matter.

So, as tired as I get, as weary as I get, I will ALWAYS be there for my Daddy until his time on this earth is no more.  When I walk in his room and it's 83 degrees I will try to endure because he is comfortable.  When he snaps at me, I will take a deep breathe and do my best not to snap back.  When he forgets what I just told him, I will remember that this might be me one day. When he calls me for the 5th time in one day I will answer my phone happily.  And, when he hugs me before I leave and says, "I do not know what I would do with you," I will continue to get a huge lump in my throat.  And, one day when he has passed from this life I'll be forever thankful for the man that he was, his influence on my life and that I did all I could to make his latter years as comfortable as possible. 

None of us would ever choose to need an  "overseer" of our care or a caregiver but if we live long enough there's a good possibility that we will .  But, along with that responsibility comes privileges that we would never get to experience otherwise.  And, I'm so thankful that the Lord always provides the extra strength that I need just as I need it as I continue on in this thing called, "caregiving." 


Lea
Lea

Hi there! My name is Lea. I've been wife to the best Hubby for 44 years....Mom to a son and daughter....CiCi to 4 precious Grans....lover of family and friends....enjoy laughter and a good time....shopper....picture taking maniac....maker of delicious fudge....organizational enthusiast....memory maker....Southern Belle...and most importantly.....a Child of the King! Welcome to my little corner!

19 comments:

  1. The Lord has blessed you with this wonderful gift. I know these wonderful people were also blessed to have your support and love during a time when they needed it the most.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As I am sure you remember I spent the last two years of her life caring for my dear mom, to include the last year living with us. It was extremely difficult and had MANY challenges included with it. I look back and remember grumbling soo much more than I wish I had. But I also remember the good times and cherish all those “last” memories as well. It scares me to think I might be her some day and living with one of my kids. But I trust God to worry about that for me. You my friend have been on this for a long long time. I know how much you love your daddy and how much you will miss him when he finally enters heaven. God sees it too. And I believe your reward will be great. Love to you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful post, Lea. Care giving is not easy but can be rewarding. Enjoy your week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I will always be so grateful for the years I had living close to and then overseeing the nursing home care of my precious mother after dad's death. You have truly had your hands full for these many years and could write a book, but I appreciate your sweet attitude and example for many who are having to live this role as well. My sister is living the long 24/7 role of a caregiver for her husband and knows it will only get worse. Very sad. Have a good week, Lea.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I SO can relate. My Mama also had a stroke, lived 2 years and needed lots of care. My Dad had a lung disease and in his last years also needed lots of attention. I wish they were both still with us and although tiring, like you would do it again and again. Sending HUGS and PRAYERS your way this morning.

    ReplyDelete
  6. How lucky they have been to have you looking after them. It's hard, I've had health problems the last year and my husband has had to deal with everything. I'm getting better, but I worry about my husband, what he goes through is so stressful. God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This post is beautiful! It has to be so draining emotionally. You are an angel and I also cannot imagine a child NOT wanting to do these things for a parent. I do not want to imagine the time when I need to start thinking about the care or loss of one of my parents. For the time being, I will remain very grateful for them and their health! Hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have "been there" but certainly not to the extent that you have for 30 years and counting. I do know some of the feelings you are experiencing though. There are times, even with my hubby, that I wish I had someone to take care of me. Laughingly it has been said that every woman needs a wife. Some truth in that! Bless you for your caring and sacrifices. Your loved ones have been and are blessed to have you on their side. Hugs & love for you!

    ReplyDelete
  9. But a precious, sincere and REAL post. I love your honesty. So many are afraid to say their true feelings as it makes them feel guilty. I have VERY OFTEN said....it is NOT the person being cared for that needs the prayers. It is the CAREGIVER! I know full well your heart here. I have lived and still am. I told my husband I felt I had been a caregiver my whole life. Thanks for sharing. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

    ReplyDelete
  10. I cried as I read this. You are such a special woman! I don’t feel there’s ever enough information on what caregivers go through. I am an only child I know it will be me who will take care of my parents. I have promised my mother but I will take care of her if that time ever comes and we built our new home in such a manner that she could live in part of it.
    Your family has been blessed beyond measure to have you.I know it is not easy but I believe it is the Lord’s will and this part of your job here on this earth. Hugs to you my sweet friend! xo

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It helps to hear the experiences of others as we go through this particular chapter of life. It certainly is not easy and leaves us baffled much of the time. Some day we will understand what this was all about.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You really are an angel and have certainly had more than your fair share of care taking. I think you are so right that a person in a nursing home will only get good care with an strong advocate. My mother was in assisted living for several years while I was living overseas, and I will always be grateful to my brother for handling her day-to-day needs while I was gone. She had liver disease and passed away 4 years ago this month. She went quickly at the end, and we didn't have to face many tough decisions on her care. Thank you for posting this and giving us insight into elder care.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I loved the comment made by Creations By Cindy, "So many are afraid to say their true feelings as it makes them feel guilty." Hands up. That's me.

    I've had a lot of loss in my life, Grandpa '99, Granddad '09, Nana '09, Granny '10. But the biggest loss was my Dad in '13.

    He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 8 weeks after my Granny passed. I was 24, a recent college graduate, his only family member in the U.S, and overseer of his care. I took him to his weekly oncology, chemotherapy, radiology, and hospital appointments. Made sure his prescriptions were filled, helped him get in and out of his wheelchair, and ran errands. I was utterly drained for most of my twenties.

    I didn't mind overseeing my Dad's care, but what really hurt was my mother-in-law and aunt telling me that I wasn't doing good enough. That 4 days a week, 6 hours a day, most days wasn't enough. That I should've seen him everyday. I had to hold in a lot of feelings.

    He passed after 2 1/2 years, a week before my birthday. I spent my 27th birthday in a funeral home signing cremation papers so that his ashes could be sent to Germany, to rest near my Granny. I then spent another 1-2 years working on his estate. I don't know what I would've done if I didn't have faith.

    How you've done it for 30 years is beyond me. Hopefully your family and friends share their appreciation and lend you extra hands when asked.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You are an angel!
    We all could learn a thing or two from your dedication! Those you assisted we blessed to have you there.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This was a tough post to read. I was a care overseer for several years, but certainly not nearly as long as you. It is difficult in so many ways, especially seeing ones you love who have always been strong, becoming more helpless mentally and physically. The relatives not living nearby have no idea. And it is crucial that anyone in a care facility have a good and caring advocate. I wish more people realized that. God bless you Lea.

    ReplyDelete
  16. God has certainly gifted you with such a tender heart of service for others and you have obeyed so beautifully and faithfully. I am thankful to know you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lea, this was so eloquently written and with such heart. You are definitely a blessing to those you care for and it sounds like you've had more than your fair share. I believe you are 100% right that people in those circumstances absolutely need an advocate for them. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. XO

    ReplyDelete
  18. This was really so lovely and honest. Everyone needs an advocate when it comes to healthcare now and your loved ones have been so fortunate to have you dedicated to their well being.

    ReplyDelete

So glad you stopped by and hope you enjoyed your visit. I love your comments and read each and every one of them and I always try to reply to them. Blessings to you this day!