Welcome to a Caregiver’s World

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“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do.”                    — Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.”     ― Amy Tan

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Walking into the Best Western’s conference room, as I looked around, I noticed approximately ten tables decorated in fall colors that were set for eight to ten male and female caregivers expectantly waiting for answers to their problems.  Questions and comments I heard at the Family Support Caregiving Conference included statements like: One tired and tense, young woman spoke with tears in her eyes, “How do I care for my parents, go to work, and care for my kids too?”

Another woman said, “I was so angry that my husband had Alzheimer’s that I finally realized it was more important to take care of me, and then I stopped being angry.”

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The leader of the support group mentioned, “Dealing with my parents’ finances, while they were sick, simply was not a matter of paying bills, there was way more to it as my sisters and I could not agree on what needed to be done for our parents’ financial security. I was heart-broken.”

“One wife said, “When I called ER and they showed up, I told them my husband passed out and nearly killed himself hitting his head on the tile floor in the bathroom.”  The Emergency Medic turned to her and replied, “Your husband is drunk.”  Her shocked response was “What do you mean he is drunk?”

Women in my group predominantly are caring for husbands and parents with Alzheimer’s, but there were a few exceptions as the woman who is dealing with caring for an alcoholic husband and attempting to get him straightened out.  Then my husband has extraordinarily low blood pressure, so he stands up and passes out, adding to his other health issues.

What shocked me was the amount of anger that these loving women dealt with in caring for their family members.  I thought I would be the only angry person in the group, and I felt there was something wrong with me for feeling so bad.  Then I learned that you “need to give yourself oxygen before you can care for a loved one,” as it seemed to be the quote of the day for our group.

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The Family Caregiver Support Conference included subjects like: Don’t Let Your Back Pain Slow You Down, Meditation and Self-Care Exercises, Assistive Technology, Safe Physical Transfer Assistance and Use of Equipment, and finally small break-out group discussions.

The Meditation exercise relaxed several of us so much that I noticed heads drooping as it nearly put us to sleep. Yes, we were stressed out.  Then the conference leader had us doing stretches, and showed us some exercises to help keep us strong. The exercise would relax us too. After teaching us to relax, a list was handed out of agencies from around the county that we could turn to for emotional support.

The amazing part of this conference showed us equipment that helped severely disabled people function more normally on their own.  Heck, I was shocked to see what looked like eye glasses designed to help people manipulate their computers through head and eye movements alone.

For those people with difficulty operating various machines, there are special handles that look like gardening tools designed so that you can attach it to the disabled person and then to the piece of equipment.  Thus these handles make life easier for handicapped people so they can function more on their own.  So not only caregivers gained support but we learned where to find equipment that would help incapacitated family members too.

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For me, the best part of the conference was learning of the variety of support agencies that I can turn to if I need help.  As well, I enjoyed meeting the other caregivers out there who needed support, as I do.  We shared stories and tears.  None of us expected to end up in this position but now all we can do is the best we can do, and know that we aren’t alone.  Turning to others and helping one another out is important.  I think when we all left the conference we felt that the load on our shoulders had lightened.

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About Gwynn Rogers

After 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn has moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not teaching her granddaughters an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer”, Gwynn can be found hunting for mentors for the Kitsap Youth Mentoring Consortium, or chasing her fantasies on her treadmill. Gwynn currently freelances for magazines.
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12 Responses to Welcome to a Caregiver’s World

  1. susan scott says:

    So glad that your own anger was recognised by others in your group Gwynn. Sometimes we do feel that we are the only person feeling anger, despair, exhaustion –

    It sounds like an extremely worthwhile experience on many levels. Sharing lightens the load. Great post thank you!

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Yes, Susan, the conference did help in some respects. I have actively been working at caring for myself too, but this conference made me realize that I need to work on additional aspects of caring for me… like identifying my Strengths again. It sure is easy to fall in a bleak hole. Now, I have to find that ladder and climb out again!

      Thanks for your comment and your support. You are a marvelous person, who I appreciate enormously. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. pat garcia says:

    Hello My Dear,
    So glad that you reached out and went to this conference. It sounds like it was what you needed and also did you a lot of good.

    It is difficult taking care of a sick spouse. The road can seem awfully dark and lonely however, it is important to recognise the need to preserve yourself.
    Take care and keep on writing.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Pat, thanks for commenting. I was tempted to make this my post for the IWSG, but I have challenged myself to find an additional subject to write about. I need to work at getting back to my writing. Hopefully, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time works!

      When mom died, I did some coaching with a gentleman who helps us identify our strengths. I saved my class content and comments. I think it is time to start re-reading the information as right now the road here is darn bleak! I need to generate some light!

      Again, thank you for your support and friendship! Hugs!

  3. I am so glad you are finding support, not just through this conference but through the additional resources you have found. It’s just too much to handle alone. Friends can provide emotional support, but there’s nothing like someone who is going through what you’re going through to make the road a bit more bearable. Hugs.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Yes, this HAS been a long bumpy road. John is doing a tiny bit better, but today I see the hip and knee surgeon at the NW Hospital as my left knee has decided to go on strike. I hate being Twisted Sister AND Humpty Dumpty. Our apartment manager is the Executive Director of Kingston’s Chamber of Commerce. When I asked her about caregivers to help me out, I learned that her sister, who lives in our complex works part-time for Martha and Mary, and wants to be more of an in-home caregiver. YEAAA! So, now when I have to go to the hospital I’ll have someone to watch John and help me when I come home.

      Congratulations on your new Co-Op! I’ll look forward to seeing pictures. Heck, don’t enjoy NYC too much… maybe Port Townsend can convince you to return. 😉 Oh heck, you can’t blame me for trying!

      Thanks for your comment AND support! Big Hugs!!

  4. Marsha Lackey says:

    Thank you, Gwynn! It’s been many years since I was a caregiver. There were a few loved ones that I cared for. There was not a support system that I knew of. I’m so pleased that you have found some help from others. Now, I am the one being cared for. Believe me, I
    actually believe it’s more difficult to experience that transition.

    I remember being disturbed when my mother would comment on being a burden. I would tell her that she wasn’t and I felt rather frustrated. Now that frustration is feeling like a burden to my daughter. Please share that message with your group, as I believe it may give them a look inside the heart of their patient.

    Love you,
    Marsha

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      When I get my hip operated on, I’ll soon find out about the transition. Unfortunately, most of the people that I met are dealing with Alzheimer’s patients… who won’t remember whether they are a burden or not. What a terrible way to go. At least you have ALL your beautiful marbles! I am so used to being independent, that relying on a caregiver for help will be TOUGH for me. Thanks for your comment!!

      I know your daughter loves you… so have a MARVELOUS and VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Love you too… and BIG HUGS! Gwynn

  5. Tina Peterson says:

    Wonderful review of the conference! Great support!

  6. Terrific that you went to this conference, Gwynn. Nothing like finding support when in need, and it sounds like you achieved some of that with this trip. Have to take care of your own emotional needs, and talking, finding help, is a great step in that direction. You sound to me like a wonderful, strong person, Gwynn. Can’t be easy, but you got this. Love and hugs.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Oh man, Silvia, do you realize that I have been doing this for a year as of Christmas Eve. I realized that my anger and depression is sneaking out from under the covers. I do need to get busy and call some of these groups to see “IF” or “WHAT” help they can provide me.

      Because of my growing up experiences, I AM a tad bit hard-headed, and my physical therapy helps me keep my back strong! 😉 Now I need to open up my brain, sweep out the garbage, and let the fresh-air and sunlight in! Thanks for YOUR support and hugs! Love and BIG hugs, back at you!

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