What's your golden nugget piece of advice?

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There are a lot of things the me from today wishes I could have told the me from 10 years ago. But if I could only tell myself one thing, it would be to tell myself that health events change people's personalities, not just their physical self. And that although those changes can be heartbreaking, new personalities can emerge after one of these events and you can create new memories with and generate new love and affection for that new person. It is hard, and you will always miss the person who you care for used to be, but that doesn't mean there won't be a new person to appreciate.

What one thing would you tell your prior self to help guide you through the caregiving process, whether practical or otherwise?

Happy Christmas and New Year's to All! May your cargiving be as easy as possible...

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My golden nuggets of advise after being a caregiver and now a co-caregiver with my sister for our mother whose health is rapidly declining would be 1. Take one day at a time, 2. Don't take much personally-we have found that our mom becomes very critical during those times when she feels the worst and usually apologetic when she feels a little better, 3. "keep calm and carry on", to quote a quote that I have seen a lot lately, and 4. take care of oneself both physically and emotionally. I have been increasingly involved in my mother's daily life over the past 5 years due to her degenerative spine disease, resulting use of medications to manage the pain, and overall declining health. I am blessed that my sister moved to Florida from across the country in late August, is living with my mother now, (I live several doors down the street), and we have become co-caregivers, sharing the responsibilities, and the heartache of watching the woman that we knew as a strong, self sufficient , and brave woman decline. My mother is often angry at the world including the medical community who she feels has failed her, and my sister and I are quite often the targets of her frustration and anger, simply because we are the ones who are there. I know this is typical of the elderly who have lost quality of life, independence, and control over almost every aspect of their lives, but it still feels hurtful at times. It is good to have someone to share the physical, and emotional challenges with, and also good to have a site such as this one.
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My nugget would be not to count on medical providers to keep track of your loved one or know everything about their medical situation. I can't tell you how many times my mom's pro-time results (for her coumadin levels) have fallen through the cracks at the doctor's office. I have to follow-up regularly to get the answer to her changing dosages. Sometimes when her blood is way too thick or thin.

And I've learned that doctors don't know everything. Do your own research, ask around, talk to pharmacists and nurses to get the most information you can. And stand up for your loved one. You know them better than any doctor and you know what their "normal" is. Your knowledge and advocacy can save your loved one's life.
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When my Mother was in the ER a few weeks ago, nothing serious, she was dehydrated again, I was talking to the male Nurse that was doing the CT scan. I told him that Mom having Dementia was a lot like "Groundhogs Day" or "50 First Dates". Mom doesnt remember what I said 5 minutes ago let alone yesterday. Every day is a new day, a blank slate. I get huffy sometimes when I have to repeat things 4 and 5 times at a soft yell, and keep saying the same answer again and again, but then I slap myself and realize that it isnt her fault. Sometimes we crack each other up with a little humor. One time I was dishing up "a little ice cream" and found the mellon baller. I scooped the smallest, tiniest scoop of ice cream and brought it to her. She laughed and laughed. She thought it was great. Sometimes I have to remind myself to not correct her, if she thinks its gonna snow in Southern Calif, then let her think it. I just tell her that we can make snow women when it does snow.
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Seek the knowledge of an ELDER CARE ATTORNEY before it's too late!!! You will avoid so much confusion and heartache..
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My mom has ALZ and one thing I learned early on at a support group is that logic doesn't work anymore. It's so difficult to understand/remember/work around that, especially in the beginning, but life will be so much better for the caregiver and, therefore, the one being cared for if we can remember that. Thanks for the all the good reminders and all the best in the new year.
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Iadee--Thank _you_! I learn so much from all the different participants on this site!

Captain--that's such a great one. It's so easy to dismiss our elders, and it's so important that they continue to make active decisions for themselves so that they can feel independent and in control. And as you say, they have a right to their opinions and who knows what they know that we don't!
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I fight hard to keep at the forefront of my mind, during the times of anger ( Her at me, me at her) That it is the DISEASE we are mad at, not each other. And tell them you love them every day, and ALWAYS kiss them goodnight.
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NotHisFault - Your name is an important truth for us caregivers. It's hard to remember, but I am starting to remember it sooner more often.
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Good humor will see you through! I'm blessed that my wife has such a good sense of humor! But, she will still go into bouts of complaining and anger. Often I respond by saying, "Grumble, grumble, grumble." This usually brings a smile and a change of mood.
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My nugget......detach with love. It took me over a year and finally this very advice from a dear friend who is an Rn and had taken care of both her parents, to realize and accept that no matter how good my intentions were, my MIL would not or could not appreciate them. I struggled to be ever present, ever ready, ever prepared, anticipating her needs, wants and desires only to be resented and made to feel as if I were trying to run her life. She refused to do the things that needed to be done to keep herself healthy and no matter how I approached it all I got was a pissy look and an " I'll do it however I dam...well please." attitude. She is now in an ALF just five minutes away but a world away as for my own health and peace of mind. I still take her to all her appointments and get her meds,etc. what I no longer do is walk up to her apt. ,which is on our property, four or more times a day to check on her and see to her needs. Back to my nugget....I had to learn to let go of the "need to be and do everything" ( detach) and love her anyway. As some have said on this thread, Someday that person may be me needs the care and understanding. Laugh often, it helps a lot.
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