I Cared For You,
Mom and Dad

My Suggestions

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email me at the address below.
 JeanDonahue@gmail.com

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These are just suggestions from my experiences.  They are not definite answers to all your questions.

Please remember this one thing. Donít get down on yourself because you canít do everything, and donít feel guilty about it either. There is only so much you can do. You are doing the best you can, and that is all anyone can ask of you. I took care of my parents at home and they died at home, but that is not always possible. I knew all along that there might come a time when I would have to put one or both of my parents in a nursing home. If that time would have come, I would have known that I did everything I possibly could do to take care of them, and then I would visit them every chance I had.

You need to do something that you enjoy. If you have done photography, sewing, or any other hobby, find some way to keep doing that. If it is a hobby that you canít do while taking care of your loved one, start a new hobby. You need the hobby to be able to release your frustrations, and you will also accomplish something for yourself. I couldnít do some of the things I enjoyed, but I found other things that took their place. I started checking my family history, which I was not interested in before. I still correspond with some relatives that I have never met and didnít know about before we found each other on the internet. I didnít know anything about a computer, but I learned how to use one. In fact, I learned enough that I was able to get a job working on a computer after not working for several years. I connected to the internet and was able to find information about health matters that I needed, I was able to email relatives I hadnít talked to for years, and I also found I could go to sites in other countries and learn more about them.

Another thing I did was to take a few days off to take pictures of the covered bridges in Winterset, Iowa. Remember the movie, "The Bridges of Madison County"? Well, that was shot in Winterset. A friend came to the house to take care of Mom and Dad while I drove down there. I was gone only a few hours each day (once every 3-4 weeks), but those hours made a terrific difference to me. I needed that break. You do need to find a way to get away from the caregiving occasionally. Check with your friends to see if someone can come over for a few hours while you do something that you want to do. Check with your local church. There are home health care agencies where you can hire someone occasionally. Just make sure the person that comes to the house can be trusted not to steal things or money, and is someone that can be trusted to take good care of your loved one. I had to deal with problems in both those areas.

Make sure you eat right and get enough exercise. I ate right, but I didnít get the exercise I needed and I gained weight. If I were to do it over again I would find a way to exercise at home. After both my parents died I found it was hard to walk across the parking lot at a grocery store, and my body had started having all sorts of problems. After I started walking more and exercising some, those problems went away. Lack of exercise alone can cause your body to have a wide variety of problems.

Keep in contact with the "outside" world. Talk to your friends and family on the telephone, email people, surf the internet, watch television, do anything that will help you keep up with what is happening in the lives of those you care about and in the world.

Be sure to have people over to the house whenever you can. A cup of coffee or something simple seemed to work best for me. Mom and Dad had friends that would stop in for 5 minutes, also. People probably wonít stay long, but at least it brings a freshness into the house that wasnít there before.

While I was taking care of my children I found that I needed to take a break 2-3 times a day.  When I was taking care of Mom and Dad I found it necessary also. It didn't have to be a long break, but I needed to take at least 15 minutes to have a cup of coffee, just sit and  look out the window or something else relaxing. I was able to do more during the day if I took that break and I felt much better.

When a person has a stroke (either TIA or major stroke) sometimes they have trouble swallowing afterwards.  If you make the liquid a little thicker it is easier for them to swallow it.  I used unflavored gelatin to thicken water.  I didn't make it as thick as you do when you eat flavored Jell-O - just enough to make it a little thicker.  You need to keep it in the refrigerator.

Mom had Alzheimer's and when she didn't understand what you were doing or what you wanted her to do, she would fight back.  I found that if I took just a little longer, explained it again and went slower she would finally settle down and I could give her a bath, or whatever it was I needed to do.  Sometimes people fight back because they don't understand what's going on.

After Dad's strokes he had trouble keeping his balance when he was trying to walk.  I learned from one of his physical therapists that if I walked behind him and put my hands on both sides of his waist I could maneuver him and keep him from falling.  Of course, he did need to be able to stand on his own.

It is easy to get so involved with taking care of your parents or loved one that you forget to take care of yourself. PLEASE donít do that. Here are some suggestions and what I did to keep my own life balanced. If you have your own time and things to do, you will do a better job of taking care of your loved one.

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