What have you learned from being a caregiver?

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I’m currently taking care of my mother who has dementia. I have learned that rice is “bird food” and pasta looks like "snakes". (She used to love rice with sugar/milk & spaghetti was her favorite meal) That vegetables are “yucky” unless it is corn. That meat is nothing but “dead animals” and she isn’t eating a dead animal. That cookies (I laced with vanilla protein power) is a food group, that ice cream only comes in strawberry. I learned that swings are not only a playground item they are also mood swings. I have learned to dodge non-lethal flying objects that may come my way any given time.

I’ve learned that 8 hrs. of sleep and daily exercise is a privilege not a given. I’ve learned to hide negative emotion and act like a clown when I feel like screaming. I’ve learned selective hearing and to let the verbal abuse go in one ear and out the other. I’ve learned to smile when I feel like crying. I have learned a new level of patience and to find a tiny spark of light in the darkness. I’ve learned that as bad as things get, I have the love, respect and support of my children and that I did a wonderful job of raising my children alone and that they have a wonderful life.

I have also learned that under no circumstances will I EVER put my children through this. When the time comes and I’m unable to take care of myself, they are instructed to put me in a veteran’s home.

I have learned that to survive being a caregiver, you have to find the positive in the negative no matter how small it may be.

25 Comments

I've learned to "break it down". Most of the time, I'm breaking it down for my MIL with dementia. BUT when I get overwhelmed with the paperwork, the medical jargon, the insurance lingo and all these random things. I learned to break this into smaller pieces so we both (MIL and myself) can understand them.
All the paperwork for the doctors, insurance, assited living facilities, lawyers, accountants. I learned to literally read over then break it down into manageable parts.
I've also learned the difference between white lies told to motivate and help and statements (lies or someone's perceived view) made to be malicious and hurtful.
I've learned that you really can answer "No" to everything, no matter the question and believe it while you're doing it.
I've learned that we all deal will loss in different ways and there are many different ways you can lose someone.

that dementia caregiving is like driving with 4 flat tires. just slow it to a crawl and limp blindly onward a day at a time. dont be distacted by ignorant gawkers. your in control regardless of how absurd the ride gets. a caregiver has to have a spine, a loved ones life has been placed in your hands.
I found humor in poop, farts, vomit, and any other bodily function.....
and learn to be compassionate and patient. the elder is going to eventually die and you dont get a second chance to get it right.
@ seemeride,
hell you almost have to create humor. it wont be lying around in abundance. its wry humor, a loved one is not going to be alive for much longer but honestly none of us have the guarantee of another day.
No good deed goes unpunished is exactly what it means.
I have learned how much I like saying, "You're wrong!". I've learned how much trouble it causes when I say that. I've learned to bite my tongue - most of the time. I've learned that, even with dementia, I would rather be married to my husband than to any other real-life man. (I'd marry Viggo Mortensen in a heartbeat, but he's not a real-life man.) (Nor has he proposed.)
I learned that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I learned that in caring for my dad AND in dealing with his business/financial stuff. I learned that I couldn't transmit my frustration onto someone else when I needed their help with something. I also learned that when it came to my dad's health the "give it to me straight, Dr." approach worked best instead of dancing around an issue because my dad was sitting right there. I learned to take any problem or issue straight to the source, my father. He was an intelligent, compassionate, and funny man and we could usually work through anything. I learned to say "I love you, Dad" and I learned how to care for him once his mind was gone. And even then when I'd say, "I love you, Dad" he'd reply with, "I love you too, sweetie."
I've learned slowly that caregiving is what it is. No amount of worry will change what is.
I've learned not to disrupt the schedule... If I do it just makes for a confusing tomorrow..

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