The tethered caregiver
Imagine that you are the primary family caregiver for a loved one with dementia in your home. You have no time to yourself while in the house so how can you possibly find the time to leave your loved one alone to complete some pressing errands?
But you do leave the house and you do leave your loved one alone at home, because you haven’t figured out how to get someone else to do those errands for you, or you don’t know how to secure someone else to watch your loved one while you do the errands. I favor the latter option because a 24/7 caregiver absolutely must get out of the house and feed her soul while crossing items off her To Do list.
I went to Staples office supply store yesterday to pick up three items for my writing quest: a new thumb drive that I can trust to store my magnificent masterpiece of a manuscript; a new mouse pad because my right wrist and hand have worn out the previous one; and a ream of lined filler paper for taking notes and drafting new ideas.
Because it is currently back-to-school shopping time, Staples was crazy-busy yesterday. The checkout line was very long and directly behind me was a young mother with a shopping cart filled with supplies for her two school-aged children. An older woman with two items asked if she could please go ahead of her because she had a sick husband at home; the young mother graciously agreed to let her do so. When it was my turn at the register, I turned to the older woman and asked her to go ahead of me to which she responded, “Oh thank you so much, you see I have a situation at home and I need to get back quickly.”
Have any of you been there – done that?
Do you know someone who has?
The following advice goes to those of you who know someone in a similar predicament as the woman at the Staples store: be the respite that person needs. Don’t wait for them to ask for help – they won’t ask you; you must make the first move. Put yourself in that someone’s shoes and imagine racing through your errands, all the while freaking out wondering what’s going on in the house while you’re away: the person with dementia wandering away from the house or falling down in or around the house, turning on the stove or running the water without turning either off, or letting someone inside the house who should not be inside the house.
Now it’s your turn: imagine the worst-case scenario and apply it to this situation.
Now do something about it.
Other articles to inspire you:
Solo Caregiving; Helping an Alzheimer’s Caregiver; Caregiving: Grief, Guilt, Exhaustion, and Discrimination