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.

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I have learned that providing the the badly needed assistance to the loved one who deserves it is truly rewarding, mainly when the caregiving provided yields tangible results in terms of good upkeep. That is human, and dignified. Wouldn't one feel complacent, then?
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It is the hardest job I have ever held....it can wear you down that is for sure...be sure to take care of yourself as well I need to remember that as well.....
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I have learned that my mother brought up at least one very strong daughter. This is the most challenging job of my life in terms of patience. I have learned that when siblings are not cooperative and cause additional stress in an already stressful situation that I can withstand it, quite well, thank you very much. The more that I am scrutinized and ridiculed and lied about I become stronger yet. The most important thing is moms happiness, comfort and welfare. I have learned if she has those things that is what is most important. Siblings be damned.
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I have learned that getting bizarre answers or comments from my hard of hearing charge can make me laugh.... not where she can see me, but I put our strange conversations in my journal, go back and read them on the bad days....
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@ sharyn,
great point. i s'pose many of us thought an elder was just being difficult until the dx of dementia and our subsequent self education on the subject. you can become pretty patient after visualizing a brain with a spreading patch of dead zone in it. as it becomes late stage your angst turns to compassion. you still lose your marbles from it but you dont take it out on the patient.
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I've learned you can only help, as much as the person your caring for will let you. Do the very best you can, but don't let them break you down, to where your ailing; and at some point if or when you have too..detach, con't trying but when it time to let go you'll know.... Meaning "A Place For Mom".
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I have also learned that I will never expect this from my own kids.
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I have learned to smile though I feel like yelling. I have learned that it always falls on one person to sacrifice their life for an elderly parent. I have learned how selfish my sibling and her kids are. I have learned that this is all for nothing other than making others' lives better. There is no reward coming my way for this crap. There is nothing but stress and over eating. There is no satisfaction that I did my duty. There is no big treat about getting out to an exercise class and then going home to what amounts to a walking carcas. Keeping myself healthy is for what? So I can do this crap for another year?
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I have learned that even though my mother has a personality disorder (a mental illness), that once I treated all her drama as having Alzheimer's, I was able to get along with her and get her to take medicine, be more open to me about what she was going through. I learned I could communicate with her, gain her trust and we have had special moments together that were not there the entire time I was growing up.Alzheimer's is a horrible disease and this is my second time going through it with a parent. Dad was very docile and easy to handle when he had it. I wish both my parents did have to have this disease. Blessings to all of you and all that you do for your loved ones.
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I learned that its true, God doesn't give you more then you can handle and that God does have a sense of humor.
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