As the beginning of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games draws nearer, we reflect on a discussion created during the 2012 games in London. Some members of the AgingCare community caught Olympic fever, and a member started the thread on the Caregiver Forum entitled "Caregiver Olympics—any event suggestions?"
"Watching the Olympics made me wonder if caregivers would get more recognition and assistance if more people were aware of the tremendous feats we accomplish day after day," they wrote.
The discussion took off, with other caregivers adding their unique ideas based on the day-to-day challenges they face while taking care of their loved ones.
Here are some of the events that have been proposed so far:
- Wheelchair Slalom
Jeannegibbs, the creator of this event explains how the course is arranged and how contestants' performances are scored: "The course consists of a steep downward grade, a level section with three consecutive heavy restaurant doors that the contestant must hold open while pushing the wheelchair through, one curb down with no ramp/cutout and with sand 1 inch deep on the other side, one curb up with no ramp/cutout and with mud extending out from the curb 1.5 meters, a long detour to a public bathroom, and finally a steep upward grade.
Dumping the wheelchair passenger results in immediate disqualification.
Demerits are awarded for each utterance not suitable for a church, mosque, or synagogue: 2-second penalties per utterance added to total time.
For scuffing the passenger's shoes or soiling clothing with mud or sand, 2.2 seconds are added per instance to total time.
Contestants receive a bonus for the passenger smiling at finish line: 4 seconds deducted from total time."
- Linen Change Gymnastics Routine
This event will require a particular amount of flexibility and skill as participants endeavor to change their loved one's bed linens while the elder remains in bed. Extra points are awarded for caregivers who succeed in making the bed look neat, and for completing the change with minimal disturbance of the senior.
- Medical Explanation Volleyball
Members of the competitive caregiving elite should be well-versed in the serve-and-return flow of explaining a new medical diagnosis, prescription medication or procedure to their loved one. The creator of this game, notlikemom, has devised a detailed method for scoring. Bonus points are awarded to caregivers whose loved ones actually undergo a procedure (and still speak to them afterwards) or take a medication as directed, while points are deducted each time a the procedure or medication information needs to be repeated.
- Bed Pan Relay
Not much explanation is needed for this event—just get from point A to point B without spilling.
- The Bathing Medley
This particular event is best described as the member seemeride originally wrote it: "1) Get clothes, towels, deodorant, and lotions together and heat up the bathroom. 2) Wheel mom into the bathroom and strip her before she realizes what is happening. 3) Soap her up and hose her down while she is saying, 'hurry up and get this damn shower over with!' 4) Dry her off, lotion her up and get her dressed while she is hollering about how cold it is."
- The Walmart Marathon
Caregivers entering the Walmart marathon will face a variety of obstacles and challenges. Examples may include finding a parking spot within a mile of the store entrance, navigating a crowded store while pushing a wheelchair with one hand and a shopping cart with the other, dodging clothing racks, collecting bathroom deodorizer and pantry items as quickly as possible, and avoiding those particular aisles and items that are sure to distract a loved one. The creator of this challenge, seemeride, notes two obstacles she and her mother frequently encounter in the superstore: candy and purses.
- Doctor's Appointment/Mad Bathroom Dash
These events were suggested by two different caregivers, peachgreentea and the creator of the thread. Competitors in the Doctor's Appointment Dash have to get their loved one to the doctor as fast (and safely) as possible while managing factors like untimely transportation, last-minute bathroom trips, and unexpected wardrobe changes. Entrants in the Mad Bathroom Dash will race to find the nearest public bathroom with a strict time limit of 30 seconds.
- The Caregiver Scavenger Hunt
As any seasoned caregiver knows, a great deal of time is spent searching for, organizing and possibly repairing a loved one's personal belongings and household items. The objective of this member's event is to locate crucial objects as quickly as possible, and the stranger the hiding spot, the more points you score! Here is a sample scoring system provided by the event's creator:
-3 points if you find the TV remote under the couch cushions
-5 points if you find the keys in the mail box
-8 points if you find their dentures in their hearing aid container
-10 points if you find their hearing aids in a glass
-20 smacking points if you find their eye glasses in the rose bushes outside
- Culinary Martial Arts
The goal of creator bemcnab's event is to cook a meal quickly and stealthily (in other words, before your loved one decides that they aren't hungry and don't want to eat).
The rules of the match are:
- Expect the unexpected. The caregiver must be ready for a sudden demand for supper "now."
- Do not let them anticipate your next move. At all costs, do not to let them know what you are preparing so they cannot strike preemptively with a proclamation of "I don't like/want that."
- Use carefully honed cooking skills and techniques to keep the food simple but colourful and tasteful without the addition of spices.
- With speed and agility, get the food on the table and serve it while still hot.
- Bonus points are awarded if you score a direct hit and your loved one actually eats the meal.
At AgingCare.com, we believe all caregivers deserve a gold medal for the strength, patience and endurance they display while taking care of their elderly loved ones.
Want to add your event to the list? Submit your idea for an event you think should be included in the Caregiving Olympics in the comments section below or add it to the original discussion, where you'll find more inspirational (and funny) ideas and tips from fellow caregivers who have been "training" just as hard as you have.