Struggling with Caregiving?

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”.  Habakkuk 3:17-18

Greetings readers!

Are you struggling with caregiving? I learned some  caregiving  principles when I  recently read a book that I am going  to share with you called, The Art of Caregiving.   I lost my mom to cancer some 15 years ago .   This book gives valuable tips in caring for those with cancer.  It was written by Michael S. Barry in 2007.  He is a Reverend who also spent year ministering to the needs of cancer patients and their loved ones.  Even though the focus is  on caring for loved ones with cancer,  the principles and ideas he shares can be used with a loved one going through any type of debilitating disease, as well as the big ‘C’.   Many of our loved ones that we care for do have diseases or conditions like that, therefore I found this advice and insight very encouraging and enlightening to hear.

ATTITUDES TOWARD CAREGIVING

A few chapter names so you get an idea of what’s in this book are for example;  Principles of Caregiving, the Roles we play, When its Hard to Focus,  Flow into Joy, and Boundaries in Caregiving.  They actually cover more material than I can possibly mention, but I touch on these few to give you an idea.

When the author starts talking about caregiving,, he discusses what a privilege it is and how our attitudes toward caregiving or ‘the patient’ will greatly affect the quality of care we give.

Caregiving is more than an act of love; effective caregiving is an art of love”

Caregiving is a great privilege, and it is as demanding as it is rewarding.  To do it well requires us to examine our own attitudes.  We need to assess our beliefs about disease and discomfort and how we face difficulties in our own lives.”.

This is very true. If we don’t feel good about caregiving, then it will come out in how we do it.  If we feel great  about it, are glad to have the privilege to do this; it will more of a blessing for the ‘patient’ as well as for the caregiver.  Make no mistake, caregiving is difficult and at times seemingly has little reward, but if there is anything one can do to make it more life-giving and enjoyable, then we should focus on that because when it is more enjoyable, it still isn’t easy, just easier.

PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF CAREGIVING

As the book progresses, he goes into the more practical aspects of how to give active care and support to the one you care about.   In the chapter about Being a Real Friend, you would read something like this:

“It is fundamentally impossible to worry while at the same time trusting in God.  Complete trust in God dissipates worry; they are mutually exclusive. “

While there are always things to be concerned about, we also need to have a certain amount of faith.  If we are lacking in faith, then it definitely will not help in trying to life the spirits of the one we support through this battle. The caregiver must also take care of his own needs to better be able to assist his loved one. The author then gives practical resources and tips to look into for support and professional help for the caregiver and the  one with cancer.  A couple of those sites mentioned are:  http://www.ourjourneyofhope.com/     and   http://www.caregiver.com/.   On top of that are ways to deal with stress and boundaries in caregiving.   We definitely need to know our limitations, and what only God can do when trying to encourage the one with cancer.

I found this book to be a valuable resource.   It is not dogmatic in insisting there is only one way to do things because there really isn’t.  There are different cancers, different treatments, and different people respond differently.  It is great to explore different options, and to be able to use different methods of caring also.

The Art of Caregiving definitely encourages all this.  I just wish I could have had a resource help like this when I was caring for my mom with cancer.   I think I might have been able to handle things a bit differently.  Truthfully, when I first started reading it, I  wasn’t looking forward to finishing it.  When I finished, however, I felt very encouraged and  blessed.  Hope, joy, encouragement and a positive outlook were woven throughout the book. I trust many of you would benefit from reading it also.

One more tidbit to end this post:  “The goal of caregiving is to create a physical and emotional environment where, in spite of the possibility of death, the order of the day is joy, not sadness.  Hope, not despair.  Life and living, not fear of death and dying.”

“A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions.”   Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

 

 

 

 

Preparation for Surgery

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16.

PREPARATIONS FOR SURGERY

 

Preparing for mom’s Surgery:

Since I have been through the experience recently, would like to discuss some points on better preparing for surgery.  When I took my mom to her exploratory surgery, it didn’t seem like it was a big deal. I don’t remember doing much preparation for it. They knew she had a tumor, but they wanted to explore and see if maybe that one had come from somewhere else. They decided they needed to explore her lungs since she seemed to have a lot of respiratory issues.  I don’t remember her being offered anything else, scans or CTs, or anything like that. She’d had some other tests and they knew about a tumor there, but they wanted to be sure what they were dealing with. I had kids at home, hubby was at work and no other siblings were available to help. I took her to the hospital and we checked in.

When she went back to prep for surgery, she assured me she was ok. I left to go home and check on the kids. After making sure everything was running smoothly, I left to go back to the hospital(thankfully it was close by). I saw people checking in and out and after an extremely long time, I went and asked again. Finally someone went back and checked, my mom was done, and they called for me earlier to tell me?  I didn’t think they could possibly have done it the brief time I had gone home, but surgery was finished. She had bled a lot(she had anemia) and that worried them so they had tried to call for me; but hadn’t found anything else suspicious. I was thankful she came through it alright; but it still worried me.

Preparing for hubby’s surgery

More recently, my husband had surgery…I remember it seemed to take a long time.  We read, followed doctor instructions, took tests and made arrangements ahead of time. On the day of, only a few people were in the waiting room so there didn’t seem like there was a big backlog or anything, but waiting seemed forever.  I had gone to the bathroom, walked down the hall a couple times, gone and looked at the farmer’s market outside the building, and even been to Starbuck’s to coffee with a couple friends who came to visit.  When I went back in, I saw other people go in to see their loved ones.  I busied myself looking at my kindle as I sat next to my daughter and son.  I was thankful that they were there.  It was comforting not to be alone.

At last the nurse came out and said the doctor was ready to talk to me and I went into the meeting room.  He came out and told me everything had gone fine with the surgery, but had my hubby been complaining of his other hip yet?  I told him, yes, he had but it wasn’t that bad yet. Anyway, he told me the surgery was fine but his left side was actually shorter than his right and they tried to make up for it by making the part a little bit longer also.  He should be okay, he probably won’t even notice.  I thanked him and had to wait a little while before he came out of the anesthesia , but I was relieved that at last it was over and everything went well.

It took him a while to wake from surgery so they awoke him and transferred him to another room.  There they took his vitals and ordered him food.  He couldn’t eat much so he gave it to my son.  A physical therapist came in and helped to be able to get up and go to the bathroom.  They explained about his medications and gave instructions on what he should to do at home to care for his wound, and his mobility limitations. When he was able to take a walk down the hallway, they said he could go home.  It was about 4:30 pm after being there by 6 am. It made for quite a day. The healing process was about to start.

In thinking about those two different experiences, I realize there are things one can do to be better prepared for surgery, or help their loved one be prepared.  Sometimes it happens suddenly in crisis, but when it is planned; we can take steps to get ready for it. There is a very good chance that as we get older, we will be facing surgeries of one kind or another. Let’s look at some points to prepare for surgery.

  1.  Pray for wisdom and guidance.  Don’t neglect getting divine wisdom and guidance, it could make all the difference in the world.
  2. Inform yourself. Find out as much as you can about your surgery. What will happen before, during, after surgery. Get information from the doctor. Look up information online, watch videos if possible. Find out about any other options available to you and what results to expect.
  3. Talk to others who have had the same or similar surgery. Find out what went well and what helped them make it through.
  4. If your surgery involves a limb like shoulder, knee, hip and it is possible; then do exercise to strengthen it as it will help the recovery period go much quicker and easier.
  5.  Make arrangements to have someone to take you,be there with you for support if possible and be able to take you home. Follow doctor instructions as much as possible.
  6. Lastly, have some prepared meals ahead of time to cook if you have no one who is cooking for you and/or for taking you to post check up appts. if you cannot drive yourself.

Beyond all these points, be prepared to wait.  No matter who or the type of surgery, waiting always part of the process. Thanks for reading my points on ways to prepare for surgery. I hope they will help you the next time you may face surgery.  Feel free to leave on comment on anything else you did to prepare, or how these might have helped you.

Free share:  Pinterest post with my favorite Bible Reading system.  Take a look, try it!

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.   Martin Luther King, Jr.

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To Exercise or not to Exercise?

To Exercise..or Not?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” ! Corinthians 6: 19-20

Hello Colors of Sunset readers,

Recently  one morning I woke up as usual, and my knee was so stiff and sore, I could hardly move it. What’s the deal here?  I don’t consider myself a ‘couch potatoe’ or anything  and didn’t remember having done anything out of the ordinary. Physical activity like going to a gym is something I have always enjoyed.  So why all of a sudden do I have difficulty getting out of bed and just taking a step? Someone told me it was all part of the normal aging process. That may be, but not all older people have physical ailments, or do they?

I was considered somewhat of a tomboy when I was younger. I much preferred to be doing something active to sitting around playing with dolls or putting on makeup. In high school my sisters and I always earned those Presidential Awards for physical fitness that were offered as incentive in our PE classes. After college, I took up jogging and got a gym membership for a short while. I jogged during most of my first pregnancy and after that it was basically walking with the kids or doing work out videos at home. Now with kids grown I have joined a gym again but the monthly payments are much too expensive. Since we need to start saving more for retirement, we need to look for a less expensive gym.

Another consideration is that naturally as my hubby and I get older, we try to remain in as good as health as possible and take care of our bodies so we live a long healthy life. We don’t want to be a burden on others. Be that as it may, I’m finding out that my body does not seem to want to cooperate as well. It seems that even doing the most routine type of exercise that I am accustomed to, the body protests the next morning with aching stiff joints that will not move as easily as they used to.  No one in my family has knee issues, back issues yes, but not knee problems. The doctor gave me the news that my knee caps don’t stay centered and there is no more cartilage in my knees; so the ultimatum was exercise or surgery. Ugh!

Hubby just had hip replacement surgery which went well and he has recovered nicely. My knees decided to act up because I was doing extra work at home helping hubby recover. So what is the best way to keep shape for an aging body? What about the Silver Fit or SilverSneakers programs? Some health insurances will pay for gym memberships to seniors 65 and older in good health or under 65 with medical disabilities. Or perhaps get your own treadmill or cross trainer machines to help you exercise at home. If you have a pet, walking your dog daily or twice a day is good for you and your pet. But then I have also seen a lot of seniors at the gym who go to classes there together or exercise together. It seems going to the gym has become a great way meet others in the same boat.

I know of some other friends who have started doing races where you walk/run for certain distances, 5K, 10K, half-marathons, or whatever they can handle. They can support and encourage each other and it is more fun to do it with someone. You even get to practice to help each other get in shape. You can encourage and support each other in the process and build relationships. Even Park and Recreation sites or Senior Centers in the city offer classes that don’t cost too much, like tennis or swimming, even dancing. My 80 something year old dad learned dancing that way. He is in pretty good shape physically to the point he still mows his lawn and walks his dog regularly.

What do you do regularly for exercise or how do you keep physically fit and active?  The more I look, the more different options I find that are open to seniors and if one doesn’t work, then find another. What works for you or do you just exercise at home? There are many ways to get exercise and be able to spent time socializing as well. Happy exercising and maybe I’ll see you at the gym!

It is never too late to be what you might have been. George Eliot

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