I am my own "Caregiver".

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In January I moved to a 55+ apartment village. I have lived alone with my pet since my divorce in 2004. Although I am not that old (63), I have health issues that keep me home bound, and at times bed ridden for days which can turn into weeks. But, I also have good days. And when I do, I try to play catch up on all the errands. Although I rarely get to them all, I usually end up doing too much which in turn makes me sick again. My Dr's have told me numerous times that I "need to learn my limitations". But if I don't do them, they don't get done. I haven't been to the eye Dr., and other specialist for years. My eye sight seems to be getting worse by the day. My apartment is still in disarray because I cannot arrange the furniture, or transfer the things from my storage unit I need. I have lived without living room furniture because the living room suit I had was too large for this apartment. I was finally able to get a recliner yesterday. Until then I was in my bedroom 24/7. I was making my back, hip and leg injury worse. There was no way I could sit up correctly in the bed. I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to sit in my living room. Even with the other furniture all asunder, I feel like I've been let out of jail.
While I love my family dearly, they seem to have forgotten I exist. Although they are very much aware of my health problems. I know they have their own families and lives, but it still hurts. There have been times I've gone without food, missed Dr's appointments and not spoken to another human being because I have not been able to get out.
I helped with the caregiving of my precious Mama until "she" decided to go into a retirement center. Even then I was there everyday..did her laundry and other things she didn't want the staff doing. She could not walk for the last 5 years of her life and she had alzheimers which progressed rapidly her last year. I spent the majority of everyday with her. I do not regret one second of that time. We made some precious memories that will be with me always. No matter how bad she got, she would always perk up when I entered the room. I was the only girl with eight brothers, so we had a very special and unbreakable bond.
All this being said~~~As stated in my headline, I am my own caregiver and was wondering if there are others living in the same situation. My small dog has kept me from going completely bonkers. She is a rescued elderly dog I got after losing my two boy dog's. She is "my" therapy. She "rescued" me~~~I needed her just as much as she needed me.
If there are others out there that find themselves in the same or similiar situation, I would love to hear how you deal with it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.....I could have gone on and on, but I thought you were probably bored enough for now.
This is only part of my story. I started a journal years ago but haven't kept up with it. I should probably start back.
Please excuse any typo's or grammar errors.....I am just too tired to proof it. I did not know what to put as a topic. I don't remember ever reading a situation like mine.
OH, I forgot to add that I am an active animal activist. It's an issue that I am very passionate about, and keeps me busy for as many hours I can put in daily on the PC. My 'lil dog and my activist work "is" my life.

10 Comments

TrishaAnn, you are not alone in caring for yourself. I lived in a senior community in TX where many people cared for themselves. The neighbors were there to check back and forth, but neighbors were like family -- tied up with their own affairs. Some of the people became buddies who visited back and forth. I think this is a very good idea, since there will be someone who knows when something is not right. Other people isolated. This did not work well at all.

Do you have any friends where you live? Do you think you could afford to have a housekeeper come in once a week to help you clean and move heavy things about? It could make life more pleasant.
Trisha, are you able to take your dog out for walks? That would help with your back, hip and leg movement.

I know what you mean about trying to sit up in bed. Couple months ago I was bed bound for two week due to an injury.... had an awful time trying to sit up because after an hour or so I would find myself slid down into the bed... darn mix of cotton/poly in the sheets. It was so nice finally getting to sit on the sofa to watch TV :)

Did you go without food and doctor appointments because you didn't feel well enough to go out?
I was so sad when I read your post TrishaAnn, I am big in family. I think the suggestions about making new friends and the possibility of a cleaning lady are great suggestions. I was thinking there might be someone in your community who wouldn't mind some cash for a few hours work. You could sit there and direct what you would like moved where. Still a few weeks left before the kids go back to college so a college student helping out is also an option. I am not too familiar with the 55+ communities but I thought they had club houses. Maybe you could go there and they could give you some ideas to get some help and phone numbers of nearby grocery stores that deluvery food. I pray that your family steps up to help you out. Glad you are passionate about animals and have that to keep you busy. God Bless.
Thank's for the comments. I didn't think my post would be read, I think I just needed to vent. Most of the people here have health issues also, but I have made a few friends. I am as concerned about them as they are me. None of us are able to do much to help the other. This is a nice apartment village. They are constantly having some type of activity but I have never attended one. When I'm physically not able to attend, then I'm usually at the Dr's and/or running errands. Hopefully I'll be able to make one eventually.
There have only been a few times that I couldn't walk my 'lil girl. Those times I have asked for help from a friend who also has a pet. Most of the time I can manage a short walk using my walker. It is "pure stubborness" on my part, but I have always found it extremely hard to ask for help.
I think, NO, I know that most people do not fully understand my situation. That's because when I'm having good days, you can't tell anything is wrong just by looking at me. I have other illnesses besides the one's I've mentioned.
I've always been a bit vain, so when I do get out, I'm dressed, with my hair and make up on. They always compliment me~~~and, they see nothing wrong. Even my Dr's tell me that on my good days I look great for my age. I love those "ego boosts". :) I even go on dinner dates whenever I feel like it. Yes, even at my age and with my ailments I still date. lol Of course when I'm in so much pain I can't walk without my walker, it's clearly visible in my movement and face. I can understand their confusion, but I do get tired and frustrated at times of trying to explain my ailments. Especially when I know most people either do not believe me or they don't understand.
Yes, I do go without because I can't physically get out. At times i'm lucky if I can leave the apartment one day a week. Then other times I manage to get out 2 or 3 days in a row. I call that a victory... I am hoping to get out for a while tomorrow but if I can't, I'll shoot for Monday.
I've checked into trying to hire some help with getting my apartment in order, but I can't afford what they charge. I suppose that eventually I'll finally get settled in. I will not give up though.
Again, thank you all for your comments. Just reading them and knowing that there are people who care and understand lifts my spirits.
TrishaAnn, at our senior community we used to have a couple of women who worked for people in the different apartments. They would spend the morning in one and the afternoon in another. During the week they probably served 8-10 people. I wonder if you have housekeepers who do that in your community. You can ask other people if they know. The women who worked our community didn't charge much and were loved and trusted. They were part of the community. One person I still remember (Gracie) became a good friend to many of us. People could always depend on her. She would even cook breakfast for the morning clients. I wish you could find a peach like Gracie to hire 1/2 day a week.
Tricia Anne a great many people do find themselves in your situation but there is often help out there you do not know about. try contacting your local area on aging and they will help you find all the rescourses that are available. They may even be able to send a social worker out there to help you. have you considered things like meals on wheels. no one should be too proud to seek help when needed.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It takes more out of you to ask for help than it does to just wait until you feel better? The hurt and disappointment is harder to bear.

You could honestly tell your doctors that you would have to get better before you could go to a doctor's appointment?

Often, you have to have a stern talk with yourself to even prepare food, or box your way out of a paper bag just to figure out what to do next.
Go to the manager's office where you live and ask for a referral for a handyman, housekeeper, and a driver.
Place an ad at your senior center or go to their supportive services dept. with your ad, asking for a worker. You tell them what you will pay, not the other way around.
Going out on dinner dates is a real plus, but I do understand how it gets on your down days.
Wow.

It sounds to me like you need more than a plain old retirement apartment complex can provide. You need in-home services. You need physical therapy. You need the doctor to come to you. You need a social worker to help you get connected to the help that exists and to make these changes that will improve your quality of life.

When are you going to consider moving to assisted living? It sounds like you are way past that time right now. It's not a matter of "if" but "when". Don't wait too late or it will be the nursing home and not assisted living, and it won't be by your choice. Where my mom was, there was a doctor's clinic that only made housecalls to them and other assisted living communities. Mom didn't have to get up & out to be seen. Same for the dentist and nail trimming service, PT.

If she didn't want to go to the dining room, she could call for tray delivery. There were add on services for assistance with bathing, dressing, and getting into a wheelchair or scooter. Onsite beauty parlor and shuttle services to everything all the time. They had movies, socials, outings, and 3 kinds of church on Sunday. If you were lonely & bored, it was your own fault!

This place also had the units for more advanced care, which we have used. Mom is in hospice now, but in the same room of the dementia unit she's been in for several months.

An awful lot of people come here because their parent or someone is in a crisis and they don't know what to do. I think you are at that point and really need to call in social services to help yourself out.
Also get a Life Alert if you don't have one. What will happen when you fall & black out?

You also need a daily Are You OK check-in service. In case you can't pick up the phone and respond, they will send someone into your apartment to physically check on you. Just google your city plus "elderly check in service" and see what comes up. Or elderhelpers website. Some cities have this service through the fire department. Most assisted living complexes offer this service as well. If you don't answer, somebody will come in and see to you.

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