I know I’m not alone in this business of caregiving but it can be a lonely life. I fight to stay out of that hole of despair. It’s not good to look back on ‘what might have been.’ Those days aren’t going to happen and I must close the door. I need new and realistic dreams. My dreams must have the possibility of coming true.
Seventeen percent of all caregivers in the U.S. are caregivers of Veterans. Seventy percent are women caring for their spouse or partner while one in four cares for their Veteran son or daughter.
It wasn’t until tax time this year that I added the miles we drove for Tom’s medical appointments. I found it hard to believe we’d driven 30,000+ miles within a 60-mile radius when I added the 2016 numbers. I can’t seem to shake the idea that 30,000 miles would make a magnificent vacation.
The issue with Tom’s many appointments is that it tears up my entire day and I accomplish nothing else. Unfortunately, there are the daily living requirements that go
undone. Sometimes pumping gas for the car seems like one task too many. Preparing another dinner, doing the laundry, paying the bills and other household maintenance requirements overwhelm me.
Tom now has 37 chronic conditions monitored by 15 specialists and while I’m happy with his medical team, it still means we touch base with each of them every month. Physical therapy adds on 3 days a week.
Along with Tom’s many medical appointments, he was hospitalized for 182 days in 2016.
Caregiving doesn’t stop and with each new decline, I find myself taking on new and unexpected roles.
I used to be the princess that never had to grocery shop or cook or pump gas or so many other mundane tasks and now, they all fall under my domain. The princess went to a job she loved every day without a single thought of what all went into the maintenance of a well-run home.
There are many aspects of caregiving that require extra time. I miss blogging. I miss talking with my blogging and other friends. Being a caregiver can be isolating and it often seems my whole life has been taken over 100%.
One of my main sources of enjoyment has always been reading and that pastime has virtually been absent the last year. My ability to concentrate is gone and I want it back.
This world of caregiving I’ve entered with Tom’s physical ailments is totally different from the caregiving responsibilities I had as a mental health caregiver. They each present different challenges.
In the upcoming months I’ll be talking more about caregiving and hopefully pass on some tips you’ll find helpful. In the meantime I’ve taken positive action that qualifies us for more assistance through the VA.
In January 2015 I began the process of going through 50 years of Tom’s medical records. This included all of his active duty records and all medical records for the 30 years since he’s been out of the military. I spent 12 hour shifts going through the records, combing out anything that could possibly be active duty military related. It also included the worsening or degeneration of any condition Tom had when he discharged from the military.
After a year of consolidating the records into appropriate categories, I contacted doctors for specific statements as they related to Tom’s treatment and current condition. With letters and supporting medical records compiled, we submitted the disability claim.
After a number of months my hard work paid off and Tom’s increase in disability rating provided us a few more benefits in the home. These numbers determine our eligibility for:
- Respite care in the home for 6 hr increments up to 40 times per year.
- A respite aide visits the home twice a week for 2 hrs to help Tom in any way he needs assistance.
I’ve finally agreed that I can’t do it all and have set in motion 3 game changers for myself:
- I’ve hired a professional to mow the lawn.
- I’ve hired professional housekeepers to deep clean once every three weeks.
- I’ve hired a team of professionals to help me redevelop my many gardens into the same number of gardens but all requiring minimum care. My desire is to stay on my feet and
not fall this year as well as be available when Tom needs me. I also plan to find reading and gym time among the many hours I used to spend among my flowers. I anticipate it will be a tough transition.
I can breathe now that I’ve recognized I can’t do everything myself and frankly, others are well trained to do tasks I always required of myself. We have fabulous friends willing to chip in and help but they have their own lives to care for. We’re all reaching that age when we can’t do what we were once able to accomplish.
For blogging, I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I want to blog again on a regular schedule. But to me that also means I not only visit your blogs and read plus comment but also reply to whatever you may comment on my blog.
Do you struggle with staying caught up? Do you have a magic answer?
I love you all and so appreciate your ‘likes’ and ‘comments.’ I hope to see you around and thank you for reading with me.