Be Prepared

The death we experienced in our family a few months ago began as an emergency. The ensuing tragedy stopped me cold. I’m on my way back now from that black pit, but getting past the shock and learning to accept the pain has taken time. And lots of work. Thank you for your prayers for our family.

Emergencies are pretty much a fact of life. They will come. Some will be big; some, small. All will be unexpected and all will require immediate action that takes us away from our everyday tasks.

Now I find myself wondering: If this tragedy had struck while I was taking care of Mom, how would I have handled it? Alzheimer’s doesn’t give anyone a break, even for emergencies. Caregivers can’t demand that life stop to let them grieve or be ill or even go to the dentist. There’s no time-out while we buy groceries or get a flat tire fixed.

What are caregivers to do?

The answer: we must take care of ourselves. And I don’t mean be careful not to get sick and be sure to keep good tires on the car. I mean, in two words, be prepared.

We’ve talked before in this blog about the wisdom of bringing in help to assist at-home caregivers. We’ve emphasized that caregivers need breaks. We’ve noted that a loved one with Alzheimer’s will often be more cooperative with a stranger than with someone more familiar. We’ve made a point for safety—professionals have expertise and experience that make certain caregiving tasks, bathing for example, easier and safer. Any one of those reasons may justify bringing in a helper, professional or not.

But a still more compelling argument can be made for having backup: Emergencies will arise. Not if, but when they do, they can’t be ignored. Caregivers get ill; their cars break down; other family or friends suddenly need their support. Maybe there’s a funeral they must attend, a time of grieving they cannot avoid.

During a particularly difficult time in my mother’s illness, I faced the kind of emergency I had feared but not prepared for. Dad was struck with a life-threatening heart ailment. Obviously, I couldn’t be with him at the hospital and at home with Mom at the same time. By the skin of my teeth, I was able to get someone to stay with Mom during the day. At her bedtime, I left the hospital to be at home with her until morning.  In spite of my lack of planning, we managed. But the time would have been easier for Mom if she were already accustomed to staying with someone else. And Dad and I could have avoided the additional stress of worrying about her.

“We’ll have no outside help.” Dad voiced that order many times in my early caregiving days. I should never have agreed to it. As the months passed and I saw the folly of his words, I should have challenged them. I should have gathered a lineup of helpers—or at least one!—who could step in if I was called away. Just the security of having people I could count on to give me and Dad a break would have made all three of us safer and healthier. But I didn’t speak up. And I regretted it.

Spelling Game says Help MeSo I urge you, if you’re an at-home caregiver, ask for what you need. Be prepared. Have someone who can take your place—when you need a break, when you need help with a particular task, or in an emergency. That’s taking care of yourself. And taking care of yourself is taking care of your loved one.

And if you know someone who is a caregiver, remember that life doesn’t stop for Alzheimer’s. Taking over care duties for a few hours is great, but if you’re not comfortable with that, rest assured there are other ways to assist. Pick up a grocery list and do the shopping now and then. If the need arises, take the caregiver’s car to be repaired or be the stand-in to meet service or delivery people.  Maybe volunteer to provide a meal occasionally.

Though we all need help sometimes, we know there are seasons and events in life when some of us need more and others have more to give. Isn’t it wonderful how that works out? Let’s get together. No matter which side of the situation we’re on, let’s be prepared.

 Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God (1Chron 12:22   NIV).

Father, make us both humble and bold as we care for our loved ones. Let us not be proud, thinking we can do it all alone. Neither let us be fearful or ashamed of asking for the help we need. Thank You, Lord, for your faithful guidance.

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About atimeformiracles

I'm a writer. And a speaker. And an advocate for victims of Alzheimer's. I write about a lot of things, but right now Alzheimer's has taken center stage. You'll see some of my work on my blog alzheimershopeandhelp.wordpress.com. If you're a caregiver, this blog is for you, from someone who has been in your shoes. I offer help in the form of tips and strategies gained through my personal experience. I offer encouragement in the form of witness: You are never alone. The God of all hope is always with you, and where He is, miracles abound. I speak to groups on the same subject, sharing helps and challenging caregivers to expect joy on the path through Alzheimer's. It's a rough road, but it leads through terrain of intense beauty. I can point out some of the miraculous sights along the way. In the U.S., a new diagnosis of Alzheimer's is made every 69 seconds. Please join me in praying for those suffering from the disease and for those who care for them.

3 thoughts on “Be Prepared

  1. It’s so good to see you sharing insights God has taught you again. Welcome back!

    When God wanted folks to pay attention in the Word He repeated Himself. Sometimes as much as three times on a single subject.

    The Spirit repeated the same thing to my heart over a week ago He did to yours. I too wondered how would I have taken care of my grandchildren when their mother (our daughter) died if I had still been caring for Daddy. And The Spirit called me to remember God’s in control. I’m not. And He’s sovereign over the good as well as the evil. Now that takes some pondering. But God sets limits. On everything.

    Before we are born our days are numbered and God does the day count. Doesn’t mean we’re not to plan or use wisdom and good sense He gives to be prepared, but I have a tendency to hyperventilate over issues beyond my control. Through the tough lessons of life I’m learning. Not as good as I need to be about releasing things to Him, but I’m a whole lot better than I was.

    We just have to remember it hurts so much more when He has to pry our fingers off whatever we’re trying to hang onto.

    Looking forward to your next post.

    DiAne

  2. My dear Kathleen, I have signed up for your wonderful blog at Judy’s suggestion and find it a beacon of common sense and hope. That your spirit is powerful enough to reach out to others in the face of your horrendous personal tragedies speaks volumes and is so emblematic of who you are. I’m inspired and lifted with everything I read from you; and that such valuable information is presented within the beauty of your prose is just our special treat. God bless you, Kathleen.

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