Many people think I am Superwoman, being a wife, mother of 3, caring for my dad and running a business while trying to fit in friends and working out. The fact of the matter is, I could do everything, but not do it well if it weren’t for outside help. When my father came to live with us, someone said that it must be too much for me because I was hiring help. The fact of the matter is, unless there is absolutely no alternative (and there are creative ways to get help), nobody should be a caregiver all the time – 24-7. It is too much for anyone!!! Think of having a newborn with you on your hip all day long, all the time and never getting a break? Now, I know Dad is not the same as a baby, and comes with unique circumstances being an adult with Alzheimer’s Disease, but everyone needs break. One would never want to resent the person they are caring for because they do not get some personal time.
At this stage in the game, dad requires 24-7 supervision. You never know what he is going to attempt to do when you are not looking. Preventing him from falling or hurting himself somehow is of the utmost importance. Thank goodness for the bed alarm, or I would be sleeping in the room with him every night! As I’ve said before, seems Dad has his own superpowers when nobody is looking. The few misses on the alarm and he has amazed me with the things he does!!!
The week Dad came to live with us, my friend told me of a lady who cared for her PawPaw and MawMaw (thanks Michelle) and was going to see if she was available. Dora, the most amazing woman you ever met, walked in this door a stranger and is now part of our family (whether she like it or not). After a couple of weeks of having her around, my nurse told me to stop bathing my dad and let Dora do it. She said that she knew I could do it, but that I needed to let others step in and help (love you Dayna). That was tremendous help and some of the best advice I got so far.
Next up I tried a couple of agencies as I knew we needed more help. Driving kids around in the afternoon, cooking dinner, an occasional date with the most wonderful and supportive husband in the world were real tough to juggle. It is not an easy task getting dad in and out of the car or getting things done when he sometimes demands your undivided attention. A couple came and went and it seemed like no additional help was in sight …sigh… Then I was in the grocery store talking to the cashier and turns out she used to work in an Alzheimer’s care unit. Along comes Gwen, she only has a couple of days to offer as she works the rest, but she too is a blessing. Lastly, Dad’s OT recommended someone (thanks Faith) who had done personal care before. She said he had a crazy schedule as he was a fighter but would be willing to work when he could. Then there was MMA fighter Tim Ruberg (8-0 record), who dad had an instant bond with. Tim works here and there in his training schedule and has filled a tremendous needed gap!
It may seem crazy to think that a team of people is needed to care for one grown man, but it is. I am truly blessed to have a loving husband, great kids who help out, super friends such as Toni, Leaf and Jennifer who have filled in some gaps here and there. And no – I do not have a cape and certainly am not Superwoman. Just a woman with a lot of great support who makes makes taking care of her father easier and more enjoyable. And I am also blessed that Dora is obsessed with laundry. I finally got the laundry fairy I always wished for!