I actually have some respite, and I’m bored

Nut graf: Respite means I should be resting, but …

So I’m getting some unscheduled rest. Except …

Dad got sick about a week ago and had to go to the hospital, and he’s now in skilled nursing. At least he’s in the hands of professionals and I get a break, right?

It ain’t necessarily so.

I visit every day, about two or three hours. Just hanging out. He’ll sleep through some of it, and I get to see him get real restless when he’s up. He wants to escape, and he has asked me if the car’s outside. True fact. He gets the separation anxiety when I leave, so I usually wait until he falls asleep or make a show of handing him off to one of the professionals. Kind of like changing of the guard.

Meanwhile, I’m getting some rest. Need it.

  • Doing things around the house. Packed up Mom’s old cookware and loaded it in the garage (still wondering why a person who didn’t cook have a dozen measuring cups).
  • A little bit more running around.
  • Catching up on my reading.
  • Even treated myself to a pizza.

Things like that. Plus I have enough personal irons in the fire; a few projects that I’m working on.

So why am I bored silly?

Breaks in a routine do that to me. I never did vacations well when I was in the work force. After about three-four days I’m ready to go back to the salt mine. Just part of my nature.

I guess this means the caregiving thing has pretty much taken over my life.

Talk to me: Does unscheduled respite disrupt things for you? How do you handle it?

The making of a family caregiver

When I left California in 1990, I swore there was only one thing that would bring me back there to live.

On May 2, 2014, that thing happened and I came back from South Carolina.

I became caregiver to two aged parents. And I had no idea what the Sam Hill I was supposed to do.

There are not, like, college classes to teach you all this stuff. You’ll find courses through some nonprofits (think Alzheimers Association here), but you end up learning as you go.

But there I was, taking care of both parents. Dad’s now 87, a two-time stroke victim and easing into late-stage dementia. Mom was 85, immobile, incontinent, and determined to shut her business down. She did pass away six months after my arrival, hastening Dad’s decline somewhat.

Okay. I’m not the only one in this position. It’s a new occupation for the baby boom generation. People are living longer and many folks my age are acting as caregivers.

I’m not alone in this. But sometimes it feels like it. From the many I’ve talked to, almost every family caregiver feels alone in this.

Meanwhile I’m making the stuff up as I go along. Learning about the mechanics of dementia. Picking the brains of those who are in the same boat as I am. Keeping in touch with my friends from back home; they’re always an encouragement to me. Doing what I can to cope.

This blog gets a little personal sometimes. I’ll mine my journal for material and share an excerpt or two, but most of this is based on practicalities. Stuff I learned, most likely the quick-and-dirty way.

(Note: I will concentrate on coping mechanisms and various ways a caregiver can do the job without losing his sanity. Nothing here should be construed as medical advice, so don’t waste your time looking for it. I’m not qualified for that, I don’t want to risk the life of your loved one with crappy advice, and I don’t want to get my bee-hind sued.)