Solo Caregiver

Original painting about changing your attitude toward being a solo caregiverAs of today, I am now a solo caregiver again.  We took Larry’s brother to the airport this morning.  He wanted a “drive-by” drop off because he knew it would be emotional and it was.

We haven’t been alone in the house in about 50 days, because of the people who came to visit and help  before he went in the hospital and those who have come to help since.

I’ve been worried about this day for weeks.  Others have worried for me.  Yes, Larry is greatly improved since his hospital stay.  He only needs two breathing treatments a day.  But he’s weak.  And his disease progression makes it impossible for him to do any of the ADL’s (activities of daily living) alone.

In retrospect that worry was wasted worry.  I was borrowing worry – stressing in the past about something that was happening in the future.  Stressing about being overwhelmed by so much on my shoulders (literally – as he puts his hands on my shoulders to balance, and figuratively.)

I’ve decided to change my attitude.

I read that happiness is 50% your nature (your genes), 10% your circumstances, and 40% your thoughts, attitudes, and actions.    I found a happiness survey online and took it.  Turns out on a scale of 1-5 I’m at 2.83.

But hey, I have a 40% chance to feel happier, right? It’s only 10% circumstances.  I can improve my quality of life, myself.

I took another look at my circumstances, at my solo caregiving life.  (Maybe my gratitude list helped, too. )  I’m looking at my thoughts, attitude and actions.

Thoughts:  In a whole day, how many minutes am I actually caregiving?  Not all that many minutes compared to the whole day.  Of those caregiving minutes, how many are doing things I find distasteful and how many are either neutral or enjoyable?

Most of the day is fine. I enjoy quiet time with Larry.   Yes, there are a lot of caregiving interruptions, but just a few minutes.  When I was a business person my day had loads of interruptions.   Yes, I’m very tired at night, but so what?  When I wake up tomorrow the sun will shine and I will be rested.

I don’t need to let the moments of caregiving dominate my thoughts all day.

Actions:  Yes, there’s a physical reality here.  He needs a lot of help to move from bed to wheelchair to recliner to wheelchair to toilet, etc.  With the hospice CNA coming two days a week for his shower, at least I don’t have that transfer to do alone.

We have a physical therapy consult tomorrow through hospice to see if there are more efficient ways for us to do the transfers so maybe that will help me be a safe solo caregiver.    Maybe having his hands on my shoulders as we take a few steps isn’t a good idea because it raises my center of gravity and puts me off balance.  Maybe they can show me another way so I don’t have so much weight on my shoulders.

Attitude:  In some ways, I’m looking forward to being alone with Larry again.  It takes effort to have people in the house.  It multiplies my need to respond.  Now, I’ll only have Larry.  I don’t have as much to take away the focus my attention. (Although alone is relative because we got home just before noon from the airport and then the hospice social worker came, and now the hospice massage therapist is coming.  And tomorrow is the physical therapy person.  And Friday is the CNA.)

Okay, so I’m a solo caregiver again.

But I’m not alone.  Larry’s here.  We can go back to being a couple.    With lots of support.  From people who live in their own homes.  Our home is our own, again.