I Am a Rock

A few years ago, I shared with a friend that I was going through one of those "challenging times" that life throws at us. She looked at me and said, "You don't need to be a rock you know."
I replied, "Yes, I do. I'm the Queen of Rocks."
A brief argument ensued about which of us was tougher.
I've been trying to write my February article all month but it has been difficult. My mom passed away peacefully on January 18th and I had the honour of being with her. I was her caregiver for over 8 years.
Today as I think about most of my close friends, I find I am surrounded by "rocks".
Linda's mom is in hospital awaiting placement in a nursing home. She has dementia and is in kidney failure. The doctor is not pleased that the family has decided against a pacemaker for their elderly mom.
Lisa and Tom are caring for three elderly parents. They've just moved Lisa's dad to assisted living. Tom's mom and dad are in the same facility but his dad is in deteriorating health with dementia and Parkinson's.
Judy just lost her 66 year old husband to cancer after two years of treatment including stem cell transplants that required them to live in another city for months.
Sharon's dad has terminal cancer and is now at home with palliative care. He has been caring for her mom who has dementia. Sharon goes over at least twice a day making meals and checking in with her parents and staff. Sharon herself has recently been diagnosed with MS.
Catherine has been her mother's caregiver for six years since her dad passed away. Her mother is legally blind and is in early stage dementia. I'm particularly concerned about Catherine because I see the signs of a serious depression common in long term caregivers.
But we are not rocks. We are human beings. When the weight of love, duty, guilt, and responsibility becomes too much it is NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS. It's just time to call for reinforcements. Talk to your friends who've been there. Join a support group. Find a counsellor. Tell your doctor. Don't try to go it alone. Ask for support before you are crushed.


Don't Miss This!
Caregiving With Confidence Conference  January 23rd.
Register now:


What is RLCS? 

I heard a story the other day about Gayle, a woman who contacted Rupert's Land Caregiver Services for help. Her husband, Warren, loved to walk their dog Taffy, but as his dementia progressed Gayle became increasingly concerned that he might become confused in the neighbourhood. Rupert's Land found a solution. John, one of their wonderful volunteers, was willing to accompany the two. Their walks continued for many months. Warren and John enjoyed each other's company. Taffy got her exercise and was happy to spend time with her master and his friend. Gayle had some time to herself knowing Warren and Taffy were safe and happy.
When Gayle had her initial meeting with Rupert's Land Caregiver Services, she asked why her name rather than her husband's was written on the file. The answer was, “There are other supports for your husband. We're not here for him. We're here for you. "
Rupert's Land Caregiver Services is  located in Winnipeg. It is Manitoba's non-profit caregiver support organization.
Services Offered
·         Time-out for Caregivers: A volunteer trained as a respite companion comes to the home for a few hours so the family caregiver can have a break
·         Telephone Support: Providing information, support and encouragement for caregivers
·         Ring-A-Ride: Assisted transportation for caregivers and recipients anywhere in the city limits by prior arrangement. Note: Ring-a-Ride users must live within postal codes, R3L, R3M, R3N, R3P, and part of R3T.
·         Support Group for Caregivers: Rupert’s Land Caregiver Services hosts a support group every second Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at 168 Wilton Street.
·         Information & Referral: A resource bank of information about services not available through Rupert's Land Caregiver Services
For more information call RLCS at 452-9491

Keeping a Caregiver's Journal

I  recently received this email. It is always great to hear about strategies that work.
Wendy,  in your class you said to do up a book with information in it, so did one for my husband with his prescriptions, test results, medication changes, etc. I had already kept a spreadsheet from 2006 with his appointments, so added that as well. This year he had tons of doctors' appointments and results/letters from specialists, etc.
Every time we went to a new specialist, I was able to show them the previous treatments and results. Had it all listed. They were all amazed at it. Business cards included. Doctors at the Victoria especially. I take it to every appointment and update it every time. Who can remember all that stuff!!!??? Not at MY age!

Thank you for this essential, informative idea!


December 2014

A Gift of Memories -Reprinted from December 2013

When I was a child we walked two blocks to my cousins' house for Christmas dinner. There were aunts, uncles and grandparents but no great grandparents. We all lived in the same neighbourhood. Our moms didn't go out to work.

Today is different. Mom is in a personal care home and only knows who I am some of the time. My brother lives in BC. My son and three grandchildren live on the other side of the city. The last time my mom came to Christmas dinner, I drove across town to pick her up, helped her dress and looked after her at my son's home while helping to cook dinner. When the day was finally over I realized that I had spent almost no time with my own grandchildren.

Duck Pond 1949
I will see my mom on Christmas day but we will have a small family event at another time. Too many people and too many gifts are confusing and stressful for her. We usually have only one gift for her to open but we honour her by donating to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in her name as a way of carrying family memories from past generations to future generations of our family.
I have pictures of myself as a little girl feeding the ducks at the duck pond.
 I have pictures of my son as a little boy at the zoo. There are pictures of my grandchildren in the new children's' Nature Playground. Perhaps there will be pictures of their children with the polar bears.

My mom no longer has her memories. I carry hers and mine. These memories and new ones that we will build together are gifts I can pass on to my grandchildren. I can honour my mother (my past) by building the family memories of the future.

I hope all of you have a place that may pass your family's memories from yesterday to tomorrow.