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We talk a good bit about the emotional things in caregiving. I wanted to say a little about the physical things. I'm 60 years old and strong enough for my age, but my physique is often pushed to the limit. In the good ole days, grocery shopping was a family affair, with everyone helping to bring things in. Now there is just me. Carrying all those heavy things up the steps is hard! I try to make several trips during the week, so it's not so much at one time. But still it's heavy.

And then there's the wheelchair. That thing is heavy. And we have a mountain of garbage and recycling each week. I swear I must live with pigs or something. Sometimes I feel like stopping and braying, because I feel like a mule. My hands always look awful, with broken fingernails, scuffs, and cuts. I have bruises here and there. And forget about polishing my nails! That would only last a few hours.

Since I've moved here, I have become everything. Cook, maid, shopper, chauffeur, handywoman, and clutter organizer. I drew a line when my mother mentioned mowing the grass. I don't do that. I just do all the other yard work.

I often wonder wouldn't it have been easier on everyone if they had moved into a senior apartment. This is lighthearted, so doesn't need support. I get physically tired doing all the lifting and pulling around here. And I am tired of seeing my hands looking like I just plowed the lower forty.

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Hi, MPennover. You must have quite a task caring for your mother. This is a great place to talk about things. I hope you'll tell us a bit about yourself.
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Move downstairs, and grocery shop on line. Lots of stores deliver right to your door. Remember you are a caregiver not a slave! Find a babysitter for Mom and get away and have a life. Buy a lighter transfer chair for pete's sakes. If your parents want you to care for them, then you need to make some of the rules.
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As they say "Calgon, TAKE ME AWAY!!!!" :0) Even a mule deserves a break :0)
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:-) Sounds like heaven.
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JesseBelle - Got a girlfriend with a nice bathtub? OR, better yet - a jacuzzi? Maybe she will let you use it for an hour. Bring some nice bath salts and a good candle and turn off the lights and soak until you shrivel. Think pleasant thoughts. Can't beat it. Hope you figure out a way - the motel sounds like it could work too :0)
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The thin white cotton gloves they sell for candy making (so you don't leave finger prints on your custom made chocolates!) would be great for working with laundry.
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naheaton, that is such a good way of looking at the stairs. My booty could use some help! Something that I noticed is that I am getting in better aerobic shape. Birmingham has a lot of hills and mountains -- something I haven't been around in over 30 years. I go out for long walks quite often. When I first got here, my heart would pound and I would get winded going up the long hills. Now they just feel invigorating. I guess in noticing all the little things I've lost in the past couple of years, I overlooked things I've gained.
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Jessie, you know in the old days they had to use mules for bringing ore out of the mines because horses were too stupid to NOT hit their heads on the way out of the mine. Mules were smarter they said. I also agree that you have got to do things for yourself once in awhile. Instead of 'nail polish', try the stick on nail colors they have now. I've tried them, and believe me they last much longer than nail polish. Us females NEED to feel pretty too, even though maybe we think that ship has sailed, it hasn't really sunk yet. Boy I sure wouldn't want to hike up flights of stairs anymore. You've got a built in 'stair master' there, to keep your booty in fine shape!! Take care. Nancy
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BTW, I thought about painting, but the walls are covered with huge furniture pieces. I don't know how anyone would paint the house without bulldozing it out first.
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Jeanne, you always give such good advise. I do need some good work gloves for the heavier things. The chore that is hardest on the nails seems to be the laundry. Those towels can find any loose snag and pull it to a big snag. I try to keep lotion on my hands to care for them a bit. My mother ran out of lotion today, so I gave her mine. There's plenty more at the store. The nice thing about going to the store is it gives me a good reason to get out.

I dream of getting a good bath. I have always bathed instead of showered. A few years ago, though, my mother took out the tub and put in a walk-in shower. So we have no tub in the house. Now for some whining - they have one of those water saver hand-held things for the shower head. I can't get any pressure from it. It feels like I'm rinsing with one of the little attachments that people have on their kitchen faucets. I've thought about going to a hotel just to crawl in a hot bath and to lie down on a big bed. It can feel a bit like being in survival mode here, but I know many people have it a lot worse.

Sometimes I wonder how my parents ever came to live this way. They aren't poor, but they never tried to make things better. The house hasn't been painted for 35 years inside. Many areas are impassible because of the clutter and all the furniture. It is impossible to clean. Everyone sleeps in little beds. There's no bathtub. It is like minimal subsistence. I am still not used to living like this.

Hee HAWWWW! I feel better now.
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As a full time care giver - we only have time and/or energy for 'small things.' A nice long bath, reading a chapter of a new book, checking out the AgingCare site :0)
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Sometimes my father thanks me. This is a strange feeling, since he lives in another world and comes into mine just long enough to say thank you. I painted my nails a pretty pink last night, but it didn't last through the day. I'll have to leave that brand (Milano) alone. I bought a bottle of Revlon blue polish the other day. It lasts very well, but I'm afraid that at my age the blue makes me look oxygen deprived. :)

I bought a bottle of base coat. Boy, does it ever smell awful. I don't like to get my hands anywhere near my face until it out-gasses almost completely.

I guess that anyone reading will wonder what all this has to do with caregiving. It is important to me to do little things that put me back in the real world. I guess I don't feel as much like a mule if I do little things like paint my nails or buy the occasional red sweater. Little things make a world of difference in how we feel about ourselves.
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Jessie,

Bray a little now and then.

Wear rubber gloves when doing most chores. It is amazing how much it helps when I remember to do that!

After putting the wheelchair into and out of my sedan 5 times in one day and suffering a backache for a week after, I've ordered a lighter more compact transport chair that I hope will be suitable for most trips to doctors, etc. You are right, a wheelchair is heavy. When hubby can help even a little I'm OK with it, but when he is too weak (as was the case when we had so many medical appointments in the same day) it is too big a risk for me.

That mule has a lot of years ahead of it. Don't do anything to risk a healthy future!
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My hands look awful too. But I chew my cuticles - I know it's anxiety and frustration.
But, once in a while when I get a few minutes of alone time I do what I can for them. I found that using an acrylic top coat (two coats) helps keep the stuff on the nails longer. Also, make sure there is no oil on the nails before you start. Use a base coat, good polish and two coats of top coat (acrylic). Mine will last a week and sometimes more. (not in summer when I am playing in the yard/garden though. I don't fool with them very often and after picking up a nail fungus at the salon - I NEVER go there. I will just leave them alone first. I sure hope someone tells you 'thank you' once in a while for all your efforts.
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