Monday, July 20, 2015

The Caregiver's Caregiver

   Every day began the same. Lori's mother would walk into the living room around 8AM with her robe buttoned up unevenly, with messed up hair, a toothless smile and a glow so beautiful that she looked like royalty. Lori's well trained black lab who was not allowed EVER to enter Lori's mother's room, (because she would want to crawl in bed with her),  anxiously performed 15 circles of an undignified dance, chasing her own tail before laying down for a belly rub. Lori's mother would salute Lori in a comical manner and would then give her a very warm hug. "How did you sleep mother?"  "Oh Lori, need you ask? Like I always sleep when I'm here with you.  Like a rock," said Lori's mother. "I slept just like a rock!"  "Well, that is good to hear mother," said Lori. Then Lori quietly thought of what a "rock," her mother had always been to her, and to many others in their lives.

 Lori loved having her mother near and always regretted how their economic conditions during her childhood, separated her from her mother. Lori's mother worked 4 jobs continuously from the time Lori's mother divorced Lori's father, until Lori left home at 19 to attend college.

Lori's mother had always been an amazing caregiver. She supported her entire family of four girls while her husband, a hard working man struggling with mental illness, was institutionalized or unemployed. Lori and her sisters wore hand-me-down clothes, started working at jobs at 16, and knew hunger. Groceries and extras were often scarce, but Lori's mother always found a way to make ends meet. Right when they thought something would be shut off, due to a tight budget, a miracle would happen, and they would be okay.

And the caregiving extended out into the community. Lori's mother was the ,"go to," woman in the neighborhood to drive battered women to the shelters at 3 AM, she once opened up her home in an unwed pregnant teen, who had been thrown out to fend for herself on the street. And if that wasn't enough, she even found time to volunteer (while working 4 jobs), for a suicide prevention hotline!

 When Lori's mother's only sister was dying of stomach cancer, Lori's mother was there to help her and stayed by her side until her untimely death. When Lori's grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, Lori's mother was her only caregiver, finally putting her in a nursing home, never leaving her side. And the list goes on and on and on.  When Lori had complications from her pregnancy and was bed-ridden for 6 weeks post -Op, it was Lori's mother who moved in and took care of all of the needs of the entire household.

Lori often thought that being her mother's caregiver was such an amazing experience, and would also find herself thinking, "I could never ever live up to being the caregiver that Mom has been to me!"  And maybe no one could. Lori's mother came from a very, very special breed.  However, if there was anything to teach, or anything to learn from this exchange of, "Watch and see, " it would be three things: 1) Present time consciousness. (Living in the now.) 2) Surrender without expectation, or judgment, listening with an open mind and warm heart. 3) Love, simply said - great love and compassion.

The caregiver's caregiver was a ready and willing student, open to being mentored by the very best that care giving brings!!!  Happy 85th Birthday Mom, I am forever grateful for the lifetime of love that you have given me!!

Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA, Naomi Feil, MSW,, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking book, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

The information in this blog is information. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

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