Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How I cope

Thanks for your comments to my last post. I appreciate the helpful advice. Even tho' I crabbed a bit in my last post, I do take steps to cope.

Here's how I've finally learned to cope with caregiving after 15 years of it:
  • I have a great therapist who has experience with dementia & end of life

  • I take antidepressants

  • I get away for one or two days a month to get a break

  • I get away for a week every two or three months for work and I add additional days when I can

  • I sit in a quiet house and just breath when H is sleeping

  • I have a job that is not too demanding (e.g., I am under employed) that I generally like

  • I have (a lot of) help around the house: cleaning, yard work, and for H: social worker, visiting RN & volunteers, the occasional doctor, caregivers for when I travel

  • I try to simplify everything to reduce stress; for example, bills are on auto-pay (mostly), I use a meal service (thescramble.com) for meal planning & recipes, getting someone else to set up H's meds

  • I get regular exercise, both at the gym and in the garden

  • I eat healthy foods with only the occasional pig-out on ice cream

  • I no longer drink except when travelling

  • I am ruthless about prioritizing my time in this order: me, H, everything else

  • I try not to go to every Dr. appointment with H

  • I piss & moan on this blog, which helps me tremendously

  • Bit by bit, I continue to reduce my expectations for H and my interactions with him

  • I've realized that H is pretty demented and that he won't change; all I can do is change my reaction and approach

  • I have learned to listen first to H, then pause, then think before I speak (he often doesn't mean what he says, I found out)

  • I don't expect H to get better anymore

  • I take one day a week, usually Saturday, and just do whatever I want, whenever I can

  • I fantasize about what life will be like for me after H is gone

  • I'm plotting to complete my bucket list whether H is here or not

  • I fancy myself a single man, even tho' I'm caring for my long-time partner

  • I accept that this situation is horrible for all parties and that H is certainly hurting too

  • I remind myself that I make the choice to be the caregiver for H...no one "makes" me

Now, this isn't about thriving, but about surviving. Thriving is another thing entirely and I'll write about what I think I need to do there some other time.