Author Topic: On Caregiving  (Read 124419 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2015, 11:25:14 am »
This is a well-timed thread for me because I've been assigned to write about caregiving for the paper. My editor is a very nice guy but he's terrible at story concepts, so he just asked me to write a story about caregiving. I asked what our angle would be, and he didn't really have any ideas. He said he'd heard the state AARP has some big caregiving initiatives going on, and maybe I could write something about those.

So I emailed a guy at the AARP, who sent me information about a bill they're trying to get passed. It's a pretty minor bill. I can write about it, but it looks like a fairly short and unsubstantial story. He also sent me links to a few AARP pages about caregiving.

One was a page with tips for caregivers: take time for yourself, get help from others, use community resources, deal with your feelings, stay positive, etc. The tips all seemed fine, if a little obvious. Then I started reading the comments. Oh my god. Many of the commenters called the tips ridiculously unrealistic. They talked about how lives are overwhelming, they don't have more than a few minutes to themselves all day, they've had to quit their jobs, can't leave their homes, they're caring for uncooperative or even unpleasant family members, little to no help from other relatives, waiting lists for community resources ... and on and on.

Here's a typical sample:

Quote
JustTired62
What I think, I think life sucks, I'm 61 years old, work a full time job and take care of my mom and my life is horrible. I have no friends, can't go anywhere, because I feel guilty leaving my mom home and she isn't mobile. The only place she goes is Mass on Sunday and comjplains that she is in so much pain but won't give it up. I'm tired and have no help. If I mention nursing home, she goes wild. Threatening to kill herself. I raised three children and now I'm caring for my mom and so tired of the nagging and complaining. whewww, glad to get this off my chest.


I think I'm going to advise my editor that I can write a quick story about the AARP's bill for now, but unless a better angle presents itself, we should wait and take the time to write something more substantial about caregiving, maybe a package of stories covering the challenges, the financial implications, etc. .... and/or some profiles of caregivers. I'm not going to write a page of chirpy little tips -- find time to relax! stay positive! -- and call it a day.

Full-time caregiving sounds very similar to the caring for an infant -- stressful and time-consuming -- except instead of being essentially a cheerful thing because you're watching somebody grow and learn, you're watching somebody decline and eventually die.



Offline morrobay

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2015, 11:41:18 am »
I agree, this is a difficult subject to write about from a positive perspective.  If the caregiver has no other family available to help, there is not any break from it. 

It might help some, like the commenter you quoted, just to put it out there, honest and up-front, about how hard it is; people can at least say, "yes, that's how it is", and maybe it could help them to know that others are going through the same thing.  But I think when one is that overwhelmed, it's all they can do to get through the day.

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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2015, 12:36:09 pm »
...He also sent me links to a few AARP pages about caregiving.

One was a page with tips for caregivers: take time for yourself, get help from others, use community resources, deal with your feelings, stay positive, etc. The tips all seemed fine, if a little obvious. Then I started reading the comments. Oh my god. Many of the commenters called the tips ridiculously unrealistic. They talked about how lives are overwhelming, they don't have more than a few minutes to themselves all day, they've had to quit their jobs, can't leave their homes, they're caring for uncooperative or even unpleasant family members, little to no help from other relatives, waiting lists for community resources ... and on and on.

I had an issue of AARP Mag on my desk for the longest time. It may have been the same article that you quoted from. I was going to write them about how unrealistic the tips were, but I never got around to it because I didn't have time. What's more, just seeing that article on my desk made me feel resentful. I don't do full time caregiving, but if you count my cat, my grandchildren AND my mother, it just might add up to that! And now there's an ex-boyfriend in there too.

What I think would be a better angle is to write to the people who are likely to become caregivers and help them prepare. For instance, I could have set things up so my brother or sister could be involved even though they're in other cities. Like, to do her taxes or banking. And I should have made them commit to calling her on certain days so that I wouldn't have to bear the burden of calling her every day. I think in order to do a good job at caregiving, you have to go into training and build up your reserves of patience, tolerance, self-preservation and many other qualities. If only people could be more prepared when they enter into this work, it would be more tolerable.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2015, 02:33:12 pm »
For instance, I could have set things up so my brother or sister could be involved even though they're in other cities. Like, to do her taxes or banking. 

I did that with my brother when my mom was still in Minneapolis. I asked him to handle her banking and other financial matters. It was for the best, because I can hardly handle my own.



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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2016, 12:25:42 am »
People think all these gadgets and technology will solve caregiving problems. My brother and his wife are always sending things to my mom, an electric foot massager, a motion-sensing nightlight, several different kinds of canes. They also signed her up for Facebook so they could share photos with her. But all this technology is overwhelming to her and most of it is poorly conceived and cheaply made. Making money off the elderly seems to be the  priority, not making their lives easier or better. Your thoughts?
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Offline CellarDweller

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2016, 09:30:57 am »
I agree.

I sometimes see these "inventions" and don't think they can really help very much, however, it can swing in the other direction as well.

If a elderly person is living alone, and he/she is taught to use Facebook,  they can at least have contact with the outside world.

Mom & Dad are starting to complain of arthitus in their  hands, and using a can opener can be a challenge at times.  They got themselves one of those "Toucan" can openers, works like a breeze!


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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2016, 10:55:46 am »
Apropos of gadgets, my dad recently decided that he wanted to get himself a new bathroom scale, a digital one.

He made two tries. On both, when he got the scale home and took it out of the box, it had a sticker on the scale to the effect that the device was not recommended/shouldn't be used by someone with a pacemaker.  :P

No indication on the box, but a sticker on the actual scale.

He was able to return both scales, but, still, you'd think they'd have the sense to put a warning like that ON THE BOX!
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Offline CellarDweller

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2016, 12:04:28 pm »
*shakes head*


Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: ''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2016, 08:20:11 pm »
That's a good example of the headaches that technology can cause. My siblings really feel that there's an easy solution for any complaint my mom has. But it's not that simple. For instance, they sent her a souped-up cane but Mom doesn't know how to use it so she just walks around with the cane in her hand, not touching the floor. This leaves her hand not free to grab hold of railings, etc. or to break any possible fall. Thanks to my mountain climbing experience using trekking poles, I was able to teach her how to use the cane. You put the cane in the hand on the strongest side; for most people that would be the right side. When walking you plant your cane and then put out your weak foot, following with the foot on the stronger side. Always keep three points of contact with the ground. I teach and reteach this but the next time I arrive at Mom's home, she is carrying around her cane again, not using it. When carrying or dangling your cane, you can easily trip over it or catch it on something and fall over.

Worse, Mom gets confused when she gets to her destination. She spends a lot of time trying to figure out where to put her cane, dropping it, and trying to disentangle herself from the wrist strap. She tries to open a door while holding on to her cane, drops the cane and can't open the door. Lately, Mom has been using a walker instead but that requires even more training to use properly.

Don't even get me started on the subject of "adult diapers". Now there's something I have absolutely no experience with. Relatives just don't understand the daily challenges.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: On Caregiving
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2016, 12:08:14 am »
Apropos of gadgets, my dad recently decided that he wanted to get himself a new bathroom scale, a digital one.

He made two tries. On both, when he got the scale home and took it out of the box, it had a sticker on the scale to the effect that the device was not recommended/shouldn't be used by someone with a pacemaker.  :P

No indication on the box, but a sticker on the actual scale.

He was able to return both scales, but, still, you'd think they'd have the sense to put a warning like that ON THE BOX!

That is weird. I've worked on editing web pages of information about pacemakers, and what gadgets you should or shouldn't use when you have one, and I haven't seen anything as seemingly innocuous as a digital scale. Most of the things seemed more intensely electric. Now I want to go back and look at the list.

Plus, these days there's hardly anything *but* digital scales, isn't there?