Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!

Have a wonderful
New Year Friends!!!!!

May you have a
blessed year,
filled with peace
and comfort!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Definition: Caregiver

  1. An individual, such as a physician, nurse, or social worker, who assists in the identification, prevention, or treatment of an illness or disability.
  2. An individual, such as a parent, foster parent, or head of a household, who attends to the needs of a child or dependent adult.
I found this exact definition on three or four different sites. Seems a bit anemic to me!!!!!

So, I thought I'd share what I think a caregiver is.... would you define "caregiver"???

A caregiver is someone who cares for another, whether their needs are emotional (depression, bipolar) or physical (blood pressure, diabetes or other chronic illnesses), whether it is just a little bit (1-2 hours a week) or a WHOLE LOT (24/7)!!!!

I recently talked to someone who said that they weren't a caregiver yet, but knew that someday soon they would be. After further discussion, I learned that this lady was talking about her mother. She knew that someday soon, her mother would need 24 hour care. She told me that right now, all she does is take her mother to the grocery once a week, helps do some light housework and calls or visits daily to see if her mother needs anything and if she has taken her meds. Well, I informed her that she already was a caregiver for her mother. She said, "I really don't do that much."

Whether long distance or short, whether a lot or a little, your family dynamics change. You find yourself thinking of the other's need, finances, aches, pains more and more. You may think "it's just what family does for one another" but it's not always the easiest thing to do.

If someone depends on you to meet a need in their life, you are a caregiver. For many, this happens before we ever realize it. At some point, we go from finding phone numbers for our children, to finding them for our parents. We go from reminding our children to take their medicine, to reminding our parents to take theirs!!!

It's funny when you think about it, but not too funny!

If you have children at home, and are caring for your parent, you are part of the sandwich generation!!! What if you help your parent, have a child at home and care for your disabled spouse???? That's a "double decker sandwich"!!!!!

There are 44 million caregivers in the US. And, while there are varying degrees of care involved, we are doing a great service to our nation and to those we serve.

Yeah, well, now you know that not even a caregiver can define the word caregiver!!! LOL

Dove Dark Chocolate Wisdom

Sometimes, a helping hand is the best gift.


Love is always the perfect gift.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

When thou liest down,
thou shalt not be afraid:

yea, thou shalt lie down,
and thy sleep shall be sweet.

Proverbs 3:24

Tonight, Lord, as I lie down to rest, let my focus be on you. Fear can steal my rest, only you can bring peace and comfort. Let my sleep be sweet....and let me wake with a renewed sense of hope in YOU.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay

Remember, Christ, our Saviour

Was born on Christmas day

To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.....

May you find Christ to be your Comfort and Joy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I will smile today, Lord.
Much is happening
that may not seem to merit smiles,
but I will smile today.
I will smile because
a gentle smile reduces stress.
I will smile because
to frown would not change anything.
I will smile today because
my smile may light up someone else's life.
I will smile and someone
may mirror that smile back to me,
and I do need a smile today.
I will smile as witness to the world
that nothing can separate me
from the joy of having
You in my life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just when you think you're all alone.....

the Lord sends you confirmation that your life matters.

Today has been a little difficult and sad for me. Some days it just hits me. I feel alone, sad and like no one understands. After my 5 minute cry, I checked my e-mail and what did I find??? An e-card from a friend at church, another e-mail from someone who told me she was "enjoying seeing the way the Lord is using you", and another note from someone who said it was "helpful knowing there was someone out there who could understand completely how I feel".

I started this caregiving blog for myself. I really didn't think that anyone would find it, much less read it. I wanted to write my thoughts on caregiving, just for my own personal growth. And, maybe, I thought, that if someone DID happen to find my blog, maybe what I wrote would help them to realize that they weren't alone. But, guess what has happened? I have been so encouraged by your e-mails, comments and notes of encouragement. YOU have helped have reminded me that I am not alone.

So, I would like to say thank you to those of you that are reading this blog, commenting and contacting me. You have been a blessing to me. I am grateful that you've shared your prayer requests with me. I appreciate your kind words and I've enjoyed "meeting" so many others who understand.

If you are reading and haven't commented because you don't want to be identified, please feel free to comment as anonymous. It is an encouragement for me to know you are reading. Please know that you are not alone. I am here.

Let me know if I can pray for you, I'd be honored.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advice to Sufferers

"We also, before the temptation comes, think we can walk upon the sea, but when the winds blow, we feel ourselves begin to sink... And yet doth it yield no good unto us? We could not live without such turnings of the hand of God upon us. We should be overgrown with flesh, if we had not our seasonable winters. It is said that in some countries trees will grow but will bear no fruit, because there is no winter there.

It is not what enemies will, nor what they are resolved upon, but what God will, and what God appoints that shall be done....And as no enemy can bring suffering upon a man when the will of God is otherwise, so no man can save himself out of their hands when God will deliver him up for his glory...We shall or shall not suffer, even as it pleaseth him...God has appointed who shall suffer. Suffering comes not by chance or by the will of man, but by the will and appointment of God...God has appointed not only who will suffer but also when, where, in what way, and for what truth they shall suffer."

John Bunyan
Seasonable Counsel: or Advice to Sufferers

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let nothing be done
through strife or vainglory;
but in lowliness of mind
let each esteem other
better than themselves.
Look not every man
on his own things,
but every man also
on the things of others.
Let this mind be in you,
which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery
to be equal with God:
But made himself
of no reputation,
and took upon him
the form of a servant,
and was made in the
likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:3-8

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I thought you were my friend.....

Have you noticed that Chronic Illness changes your relationships? It’s sad, but true. It can happen. Things just aren’t the way they once were and neither are your friendships.

I remember the first time I realized that my friendships would never be the same. I was talking on the phone with a close friend. We talked almost daily. She knew what I was going through. She knew the difficult time that I was having adjusting to my “new life”.

I told her that I was exhausted. I was afraid of what was going to happen to us, financially and spiritually. I shared that I was really sad and didn’t know if I could do this for another twenty years. I had just spent 15 minutes sharing my deepest feelings with her. As I talked, she said all the right things. I’m so sorry. I know. I cannot imagine. Right….

As I finished up my last few words, she said, “Man, I know what it’s like when things are hard. We are having such a hard time right now. We were looking at tile for the kitchen the other day and can’t decide which tile to get. See, I like the one with some brown in it and hubby likes the one that has more white in it. I hate it when we can’t agree. It’s just so stressful right now.”

That is when I realized, she just didn’t understand. I didn’t get mad at her, not really. I just felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. She just didn’t get it. It wasn’t her fault, but it hurt. I felt alone.

A few months later, needing a break from the routine, and just needing to get out of the house and away from the care giving, I went to a friend’s house for a few hours to help her pack. They were moving, and I knew that I could pack without having to really think. I thought that I had my emotions under control, but found out I didn’t. There were about 4 of us there, helping our friend.

As we chatted, one opened the conversation with, “And how are you doing?” I thought one second and decided to be honest. I told her that I wasn’t doing too well. I began to cry and told the small group of friends, people I had known for about ten years, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this much longer. I needed help. I was talking of the sadness, the loss, the change in roles, watching my husband’s disease progress, seeing how this illness was affecting my children, the entire gamut of emotions that you experience when you face chronic illness and disability.

She looked at me with the strangest look on her face. She said, “Do you need help with housework? Is that what you’re talking about? Aren’t your kids old enough to help out?” I couldn’t believe that she would think I was concerned about housework. Who cared if the house was clean, the laundry done? I was dealing with real life issues and she didn’t understand. I remember walking away that day feeling more and more isolated

Sure, my husband looked ok, but didn’t everyone understand what a diagnosis of Progressive MS meant? Hadn’t they seen the commercials when they were younger that talked about MS being the “silent crippler”? They knew my husband’s diagnosis, hadn’t they understood when we talked right after we got the news, what this would mean to our family?

You see, we told everyone right after the diagnosis. Within three years of the diagnosis, he was no longer working. This is where we were. Our friends knew he wasn’t able to work. They knew he was home full time and needed a wheelchair and needed someone with him 24 hours a day. It was obvious that things had changed. We had already begun turning down invitations to friend’s homes. We’d stopped attending church regularly, we didn’t go out to dinner, to friend’s homes, and had even started having holidays at our house, because it was just easier than going to mom’s like we had our entire married life. I’d stopped teaching Sunday School and my husband had really struggled the last few times he had preached. Our lives had already changed drastically.

I walked away from that day, knowing that I would never have the same relationships with the people in my life. As much as they tried, they would never fully get it. They loved us, they hurt with us, but they didn’t really understand. And, that’s ok. One who has never walked this path will ever get it.

Then, one day, as I was thinking about people we had known and hadn’t seen in a while, I thought of Anna (name changed). She would understand. Her husband had been ill for quite a while. I wondered how they were doing. Maybe I could get some advice, some understanding from her. I worked up the nerve and called her. I was amazed at how easy it was to talk to her. We struck up a renewed and different friendship with one another. As we talked, I realized that she was struggling just as I was. She was exhausted, worn out, worried, frustrated, and felt so all alone too. We decided to meet for lunch. And, thus began a friendship with my “Tough Life” buddy.

While our husband’s illnesses were different, the emotions and struggles were the same. We understood the frivolity of kitchen tiles, and knew what it was like to see your husband change right before your very eyes. We decided this was something we needed on a regular basis. I enjoyed our time together and we discovered that neither of us could really enjoy meeting our former friends for lunch like we once did. Things had changed. We had such a difficult time relating to them. We both felt like we had nothing to talk about. I was almost at the point where humor was unheard of, unless it was black humor. Finding the humor in things that are normally not at all humorous. Laughing at death, disease, and our inability to think clearly. These are things that most people would be offended by. And yet, we decided, you laugh or you cry. And we were the only ones who could laugh at our situation.

We decided that we were good for each other. We developed the kind of friendship where we were able to look into each other’s lives and see things that maybe the other had overlooked. Many of our sentences began with, “have you ever looked at it this way” or “maybe you should” or "no, that's not crazy, you're thinking clearly here". And neither of us was offended by the advice given. She had a right to be in my business, to offer advice. She had walked the same path, she had been to the brink of the pit and she understood. There was no accusation in her voice, no lack of compassion, no cluelessness here. She got it. She cried with me and said, “What are we going to do?” Our answer was the same, we didn’t know, but we knew we would survive.

As I began to share my heart with someone who understood, I began to see my other friendships for what they really were. They were links to the past….friendships that were built on common ground. Homeschooling, children, church, family, all the things that had changed so drastically in my life. Homeschooling and little activities were no longer high on my priority list. Sure, I still had to do those things, but much less of my time and thought was devoted to them. Do the basic requirements and move on. We couldn’t even attend church regularly. Everything was different. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just was.

Once I found my “Tough Life” friend, I realized that my other friends could still have a special place in my life. It would always be different, but I still loved them and they still loved me. Honestly, casual friendships drifted away and I was left with only 3 or 4 close friends. Our “Couple Friends” weren’t there any more, and that was ok. It’s hard to keep those friendships alive. I can still share my heart with my friends and while they don’t get it, they do get that it’s tough. Maybe they are grateful it’s not them. Maybe they think I’ve lost it. It’s ok. It is what it is. When I do spend time with them, I sometimes feel like an alien, but I’m learning to roll with it.

I’m beyond the difficult days of being sad seeing them live their normal, everyday lives. I no longer cry when I hear of their plans to go on a family vacation. I no longer tear up when they talk about their daughter’s wedding, realizing that my husband won’t be able to walk his daughter down the aisle. I no longer hurt when they discuss their retirement years. Yeah, our lives are different, but it’s ok.

Maybe you still have great relationships with your friends…but maybe it’s time to search out new friendships. Try going to a support group meeting. Attend a caregiver’s conference. Look around you and see if there is someone out there who understands.

It takes a while to adjust to the changes this life brings and if you can find someone on the same side of the struggle, it will make the adjusting a bit easier. No one wants to feel alone….so even though it’s hard, follow the advice of scripture. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:4.

Make an effort to show yourself friendly. You’ll find a rare treasure if you find someone who walks the same path as you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Welcome Cross

'Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross,
But the Saviour's power to know,
Sanctifying every loss:
Trials must and will befall;
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all,
This is happiness to me.

God in Israel sows the seeds
Of affliction, pain and toil:
These spring up and choke the weeds
Which would else o'erspread the soil:
Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.

Did I meet no trials here,
No chastisement by the way,
Might I not with reason fear
I should prove a castaway?
Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly vain delight:
But the true-born child of God
Must not, would not, if he might.

William Coper

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
so shalt thou dwell in the land,
and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the LORD;
and he shall give
thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD;
trust also in him;
and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth
thy righteousness as the light,
and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD,
and wait patiently for him:

Psalm 37:3-7a

Monday, December 8, 2008

Taking Care of You

We live a “me” society. It is evident everywhere we turn. Ever been to an after Christmas sale? Have you ever driven in rush hour traffic? Ever asked for volunteers to help with a worthwhile project? It’s amazing how very selfish people can be.

Anytime you read about care giving, one of the major topics will be “Taking Care of You”. If you’re a Christian woman, you may be tempted to pass over those pages and go on to the next chapter, “Being the Best Caregiver You Can Be”. Well, I’m thinking that maybe someone should combine those two chapters! Learning to “take care of you” may very well lead to “being the best caregiver you can be”.

Now, while I must admit, despite some searching, I could not find any scriptures that read, Take care of you. But, I do know that the scriptures teach that we are to care for our own….our home, our family, our loved ones, and that we are to love others as we love ourselves. Here is a short list of scriptures that repeat that theme.

Leviticus 19:18 and 34
Matthew 19:19; 22:39
Luke 10:27
Romans 13:9
Galatians 5:14
James 2:8

Now, I’m not going to argue scriptures but I do know this, we must first care and love ourselves before we can care for and love others. People can and often do take things to extremes, including caring for self. This is not what I am talking about. I’m talking about caring for our own, personal needs, very real needs that each of us were given by God Himself.

Try seeing it through this word picture. Suppose you had a car that you used everyday. This vehicle was the one you used to do all your errands….grocery shopping, doctor visits, trips to the Post Office, getting to and from work and church. Now, what would happen if you failed to add gasoline, or if you failed to change the oil? You would very soon find yourself in big trouble. You would be stranded on the side of the road, out of gas and unable to accomplish everything on your “To Do” list. You wouldn’t be able to care for your home, your children, your husband. Don’t change the oil and even I, an auto novice, know that you will destroy your engine and will find yourself on the road to a major repair. We’re talking big bucks.

If we understand the importance of maintaining a vehicle, why can we not see the importance of maintaining ourselves? I mean, seriously, do you think that we can neglect our own needs and not find ourselves staring at a huge repair bill?

As caregivers, we neglect to care for our very basic needs. We feel it nobler to “wear out than to rust out”. We think if we take a moment to do something for ourselves, the world will self destruct. Doctors appointments, hair cuts, clothing shopping, these errands aren’t just fun, they are necessary. Taking time for peace and quiet, time for reflection and devotion, prayer and thanksgiving. We even need time for good, pure enjoyment.

For me, there were two obstacles to caring for myself. First, I found it extremely difficult to ask someone else to stay at home with my husband while I left the house. It’s difficult to ask for and to receive help. If my older children stayed at home with their dad, I felt as though I was shunning my responsibility to be there for my husband and at the same time robbing my children of doing the things that they wanted to do. Invariably, our schedules would collide and someone had to give. It was just easier for me to say, “Its ok, I can always do it next week.” I hated to ask friends because I felt that it wasn’t their responsibility, and I wasn’t going to pay someone! I mean, really. That’s just too much.

Secondly, if I am honest, I really didn’t care to be around people. Once you’ve shut yourself up from the world, it is difficult to emerge from your safe cocoon. I just “didn’t want to bother with it”.

That was a sure sign to me that I had a real problem. It was a sign that I had neglected myself for so long that I no longer wanted to be around the human race. Honestly, I felt like an outsider every where I went. I felt very alone.

If you have children, surely you remember the days when you just felt overwhelmed by the diapers, the meals, the laundry and the constant “why mama”? Remember those days of feeling like you just needed a break? Remember longing for nap time, so that you could have a few minutes to yourself?

I talked to girlfriends with small children and we all agreed, we needed a time out. We would call our mothers, our friends or if we had to, hired a babysitter. No one thought we were selfish, no one accused us of being wimps because we couldn’t handle life with a couple of kids. You know why? Because everyone has been there. Anyone with a child or two knows how vital it is to get away and renew.

I remember leaving my children with my mom. I knew she would care for them. I knew that though they cried and “missed me”, it wouldn’t kill them. Many times my husband and I left them with Grandma and just got away from it all, and spent some time alone. It was like a breath of fresh air. And, the return? Actually, we couldn’t wait to see the kids again. We loved them and yeah, we even missed them. I was a better mother to my children after those breaks.

Why do we think that things would be any different when it comes to caring for our loved ones? It can be overwhelming. Too much to do and not enough time or energy to do them well. We get worn out and need time to rejuvenate. Just as people with jobs have days off and vacations, we too, need to find some time off. A time when we can safely leave those we care for, even if just for short periods. A few hours here and there, and maybe even a trip alone.

I have begun to see that I need one day a week off. One day where I don’t have to account for every little thing I do. Some weeks, it might only get a half day, but I need it. I may get my hair cut, have a pedicure, stop by a bookstore, visit a quilt shop, even a trip to the Farmer’s Market….the only rule? No stressing. No worrying about making it here or there on time. No schedule. Just enjoy being me and doing the things I love.

There are things from your former life that you enjoyed. You know, your life BC….Before Caregiving. You loved reading, writing, quilting, painting, exercising, volunteering, camping, hiking, concerts, going to Bible studies. Try to remember….are there still some things that you say, “I wish I could…..”. Well, why can’t you? Find one thing and make a commitment to yourself that you are going to devote 2 hours a week to it. Find a way to work it into your schedule. Then MAKE IT WORK. Call someone, a friend, a relative, or if you have to, hire someone to sit with your loved one while you take the time to do something you love. You’ll be shocked at how refreshing, how rejuvenating it is.

Take an hour each week to spend alone, reading your Bible in a quiet place, write in a journal, pray, just reflect. When I talked with my counselor, she said it like this. We have external noise and internal noise. When your life is busy with caring for someone, when you live with people, when you have responsibility, that is external noise. The responsibility, the outside pressure to get things done. Internal noise comes from the stories that we play over and over in our mind. The story that I’m not doing a good job. That I’m not qualified. I can’t do it. It’s too hard. We need time to shut out the noise. We need time to read the scriptures and let them minister to our hearts, the Great Physician’s Salve. Medicine to an aching heart.

The place I chose as my place of quiet was a nearby park. Near water, under trees. As I sat and opened my Bible for the first time there all alone, I couldn’t even read. I cried. My heart was flooded with emotion. The park was not a particularly beautiful park, but just being outside under God’s creation was amazing. The trees, the birds, the sound of the water flooded my heart and I began to open up to the Lord in a way I hadn’t in a long time. I was only gone for one hour, but the medicine had begun its work. Each time I left the house, I felt a burden lift. As I arrived at the park, I knew that the Lord was going to meet me there and speak to me. The notes I took might not make a really great sermon, but the Lord was faithful to meet my needs. I had some revelations, some words from the Lord that only He and I will ever know.

I have also taken time alone, and spent a few days away. One time, I went to a Christian Encampment and rented a small apartment. I took my own food, my quilts, handwork, Bible, journal and enjoyed some time away. I spent three days and two nights. I slept as late as I wanted (which ended up being not as late as I thought I would sleep). I took walks, I read, and quilted. I just was……Some thought it was terrible. Maybe that was because they aren’t where I am. But, I need time to be by myself. I have become my own best companion. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine that much time in Solitary Confinement; I wanted to be with people. But now I relish any time I spend alone. If you aren’t a loner, try taking three or four girlfriends and renting a house in a pretty area and have a two day slumber party. Movies, nails, handwork, whatever you and your best friends enjoy. The point is, find what sounds fun to you and do it.

If all this sounds like too much, start with 30 minutes on the back porch, uninterrupted. Take a walk around the block. Go out and pull a few weeds and pour your heart out to your Father in heaven. Start with reaching out with all that is within you to the Great Physician and ask Him, no….beg, that He do a work in your heart. Oh Father, be near me, one moment at a time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Silversmith

And he shall sit as a refiner

and purifier of silver:

and he shall purify the sons of Levi,
and purge them as gold and silver,
that they may offer unto the LORD
an offering in righteousness.
Malachi 3:3

A Sunday School class began studying this passage of scripture. One of the ladies belonging to the class offered to go to a silversmith and ask him to explain to her the process of refining silver so that the class would have a better understanding of the passage.

She made arrangements to meet the silversmith, but chose not to reveal the purpose of her trip to him. He agreed to show her the process. He put the silver over a fire and sat and watched it.

As he began working, she noticed that he never took his eyes off his work. She asked, “Do you have to watch it every second?

“Oh, yes,” he replied, “If you leave it on too long it will damage the silver. On the other hand, if you take it off too soon, it will not be purified.”

The woman could not help but to draw the parallel between the silversmith and God. God leaves us in the middle of trials for as long as he needs to leave us, and it is for our own good; to purify us.

The woman watched as the dross (impurities) would rise to the top of the silver, and the silversmith would skim it off and dispose of it.

Finally, the silversmith removed the silver from the fire. The woman asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is refined and ready to be used."

“I know it is finished when I see my reflection in it!”

Author Unknown

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Therefore being justified by faith,
we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith
into this grace wherein we stand,
and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so,
but we glory in tribulations also:
knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience;
and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed;
because the love of God
is shed abroad in our hearts
by the Holy Ghost
which is given unto us.

Romans 5:1-5

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Definition: ADLs

ADLs (activities of daily living): The things we normally do in daily living including any daily activity we perform for self-care (such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming), work, homemaking, and leisure. The ability or inability to perform ADLs can be used as a very practical measure of ability/disability in many disorders.


Finding Help

I have shared in previous posts how I had struggled with getting help in my new role as caregiver. This post, I'd like to share some ideas on how to find the help you need.

First of all, realizing you need help is the first step. If your caregiving began because of an accident, you probably received some help right away. The change in your loved one was almost instantaneous, and you immediately found yourself shocked by all the new people, specialists, aides and equipment just to keep your loved one alive and comfortable. If your caregiving began because of an illness, you may have had an experience like mine.

In all honesty, several years before I became a full time caregiver, I was a helpmate to my husband. When he began showing signs of neurological symptoms, I started doing research. His diagnosis of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis came after he had already had 2 years of consistent and unusual symptoms (although he had 10 years of intermittent symptoms prior to that). They were symptoms that had already changed our lives. Once the diagnosis was finally made, there was no huge adjustment to my work load. We just continued along, me helping out when he was fatigued, running some errands so he could focus on work, etc. No big deal.

But, as his illness progressed, my work load became heavier and heavier. I'm sure you've heard of the frog that was placed in a pot of lukewarm water. Slowly the heat was increased until the frog found himself boiled to death. That's kind of how I describe my caregiving responsibilities. Increasing amounts of "aide" to my Dear Husband until one day, I woke up to a pot of boiling water. It's difficult to see the changes in our responsibilities because they happen so slowly. Some wise counselors once told me that if you are asking, "Is it time for help?" the answer is yes.

Next, a friend encouraged me to write down exactly what my responsibilities were. I was shocked when I kept a log for two days of exactly what I was doing. Each time I did something, I wrote it on a piece of paper. At the end of the first day, I had filled three sheets of notebook paper. I looked at it and thought, "I need a vacation." While none of the jobs were REALLY difficult, each little job on top of the other added up. It was like the straw that broke the camel's back. We’ll call it the Accumulation Factor. I found too, that I really didn't have time to keep a journal, I was too busy. THAT was an eye opener...I didn't even have time to make a journal.

As I looked at the list of things I did for my husband, I noticed they fell into a few categories. Here are my categories and some sample items in each.

1. Things I don't mind doing and/or love to do.

  • Preparing his meals and snacks and helping him eat
  • Rubbing his muscles to help with aches and stiffness
  • Visiting with him and being his companion

2. Things that can easily be delegated.

  • Getting him a glass of water, several times a day
  • Putting his socks on for him
  • Finding his hairbrush (how does it always disappear???)

3. Things I can't stand doing.

  • Bed baths
  • Haircuts

Then, of course there are other things that have to be done. Don't forget to add items like maintaining the car, banking, groceries, bill paying, cleaning, laundry....on and on.

Decide what kind of help you actually need. Do you need skilled nursing care, help with housework, a personal care aide, or family and friends to fill in the gaps? Skilled nursing care may be covered by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. I found that my children (those who were still home) were a valuable resource. Without overloading them, or abusing my role as parent to burden them down, I found they were able to handle some things and relieve some of the stress. We hired an aide to come to our home and give my husband a bath once a week, with me doing sponge baths between her visits, as needed. And when my mom moved in with us, she became an enormous help in areas of housework: laundry, dishes, dusting, etc.

Be bold and get the help you need. Now, take the list of responsibilities and decide who can do them. Family members, an aide, or maybe friends? Find the right person for the job.....Make a list of people to contact and put under their name the job you need them to do. I have found that friends and family will tell you, "Let me know if there is ever anything that we can do to help." Take them up on the offer. Next time they offer, ask them what they would like to help with. Or give them some ideas. Tell them that your gutters need cleaning, or that you have a leaky faucet.

You may need to contact your doctor and set up a visit from a Home Health Company to evaluate your loved one's needs. Some care may be covered. Or, you may find, as we did, that care is only offered long enough to train you. You may have to budget some finances to hire help yourself. Only you can decide whether it is best to hire an individual or to hire an aide through a Home Health Care company.

The point is can get help, but it will cost you. Time, energy, thought, possibly money and sometimes it will force you out of your independence, and out of your comfort zone. But, help is necessary in this caregiving journey. No one can do it all alone for long, extended periods of time.

Most of the time when we begin caregiving, we can only think of what our loved one needs. And we love them so much we find it a joy to give of ourselves. But, we will find that we only have so much time, energy, money, and patience to carry on for extended periods of time.

Compare the two scenarios. Your healthy spouse wakes up one day with aches and pains, a cough and sniffle. You both realize very quickly that this is the flu. For two weeks, while he recovers you pamper, coddle and love. You prepare tempting meals and snacks, you rent all his favorite movies, you cancel all previous engagements and spend every moment meeting each and every need. Two weeks pass, your husband is well and you're exhausted. Yet, you feel great that you were able to care for him and did a great job of it too.

How many times has this happened and you've done it, you've passed the test? Anyone can. It's short term. Our game plan for a chronic illness cannot be the same as for a two week flu. The flu rules do not apply. We're in this for the long haul. We may be at this for years....and we must survive to the end. Other aspects of our lives will continue, regardless of what we must do to care for our spouse. Groceries still have to be purchased, food prepared, house cleaned, laundry, financial decisions made, etc. No one person can do the work that you and your spouse once did together.

So, please do what it takes to get the help you require. And don't dare feel bad about it. We want to have energy left to lavish love on our spouse and that can't happen if we do it all alone!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Have you ever had a difficult time saying no? Have you felt pressured to do things that you really didn't have time to do, or didn't want to do?? Do you feel that you have to meet everyone's needs?? Here is a book that will help you work through deciding when to say yes and when to say no.

This book was a life changer for me. I've always wanted to make the people in my life happy. I have always felt an inner pressure to please. What I found happening in my own life was that I came to resent those I was serving. Through this book, I've learned to free my life up to do what the Lord calls me to do, instead of what I "should" do, what I "ought" to do and what "others expect".

Here is a brief synopsis:

Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us, mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts, emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own.

Written by McCloud and Townsend