Caregiving For All: September 3, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister
As you already know, I too am a caregiver for my wife, and for a 96-year-old woman without any family nearby. The week of July 9-15 was tough for me, and it made me think about all the things we have talked about. In a conversation I had this past Thursday with my pastor, we talked about those caregiving issues and my spiritual experience preparing for the service I did last Sunday the 16th.
The first issue, of the second week of July, was struggling with the beginning of my sermon for July 16. Next, the 96-year-old, who is in memory care, was very upset about her money. She wanted to spend most of it for not an appropriate reason. I have no legal authority to handle any of her finances, or medical decisions; nor do I want them since that would go against my ministry responsibilities. A financial guardian takes care of those issues. I do communicate with those people and can see her medical files to help her. For a while, she thought I took her money and spent it. I tried to explain to her that she needed money to pay for her nursing care. I sent a text message to her financial guardian saying that person that the senior wants to spend some of her money, and also wants bank statements. As soon as I left, I immediately sent another text message telling her to ignore my previous message and to call me when they could to discuss. There is more background information that I can’t share. A few days later she changed her mind. Unfortunately, today she was back to giving her money away again. Some of you have noticed that having memory issues can create difficult situations. I would say this is an example of where those little white lies can be helpful, rather than creating animosity and bad reactions. To be honest with you, this is what has motivated me to share help and guidance for other caregivers, not necessarily because of all my wife’s issues.
Friday, July 14, was the day my wife had her 4+ hours at the Muscular Dystrophy Coordinated Treatment Clinic. She sees all the different therapists and her neurologist. Luann doesn’t like to have me there because I am honest and say what needs to be said. She gives me her Italian Evil Eye, and I’ve learned to be quiet until the next therapist or doctor comes in. It was sad to hear that she has lost most of her strength in all her extremities, and also has three fingers that won’t bend anymore. She had decided she couldn’t do the exercises at all back in November. We had agreed about two years ago that she would tell me when she was too tired to keep exercising, and doing things that kept her strong. This spring I had trouble lifting this petite woman because of my back and told her that she needed to get back to doing exercises, or we would have to start looking for a care facility for her sooner than we wanted. She did start doing exercises again, but the time away prevented her from getting the full benefit. Now we need more help with equipment to keep her at home. Unfortunately, more in-home aid is not available because everyone is short-staffed. I’m tired of that excuse. I have hired a friend to come in once a week to give me a chance to do something I need to accomplish, and Luann a break from me. Let me be clear, Luann continues to do activities in the building and enjoys her iPad.
Last weekend, I felt guilty that I had let her down, and not pushed to keep her exercising. Don’t let yourself get caught up in guilt. All it will do is interrupt logical thinking and make you worry about things out of your control. Guilt can be a determent to both the caregiver and the care receiver. We cannot play the game of “Should have; would have and could have.” We must realize that we are doing the best that we can. Letting negative medical and physical changes take over our lives creates a situation where we may second-guess ourselves. It can slowly eat at us until we don’t know what to do with the ones we love so dearly. Admit you made mistakes if you must. Then let them go, and never hang onto them, or keep bringing them back to burn deeper into the brain. It is OK to make mistakes. We all have made them since the day we started walking. We are human and will always have the curse. It’s what we learn from our mistakes that makes the biggest difference. How many times have you told that to your kids? We have to love ourselves and make peace, that we are doing the best that we can.
This is important because as time passes the decisions become more difficult. Take care of yourself. If you make a mistake and can correct it, do so and give yourself credit for recognizing and making a change. Most often, we won’t be able to change it much in these situations. Use it to grow.
I know that God walks with me and gives me the strength to get through these difficult times. I guess God gave me an extra dose of humor. We need to include God, not only when we make mistakes, but all the time. Give God the credit God deserves. In Micah 6:8 it says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
You don’t have to worry about whether you are making the right decisions, or not if you have included God in your plans.
Please excuse my editing mistakes. As a writer I usually have someone proof my work. I have a mental block for the endings of words like ed and ing. I read it as if it is there. I blame it on being Norwegian.
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