Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Caregiving: Tradition! Tradition!

“You may ask, "How did this tradition get started?" I'll tell you! 


... I don't know. But it's a tradition...”  (Tevye)


Holiday traditions can drive caregivers and challenged people bonkers. Undoubtedly the able bodied have similar pressures and even though I have one foot in both worlds it has been a long time since I shared the holidays from a ‘totally able bodied’ perspective.


Holidays pull families and friends temporarily together for hours or even a day, yet good well-intended people hosting under pressure can develop a tunnel vision of festive fascists.


To care, and caregiving can put you on a collision course with ‘tradition’.


Caregiving is an unbalanced environment driven by unpredictable care needs. The person needing attended care must be the focus if only to improve their safety and stability. The bigger picture MUST adapt. That is challenging for family gatherings unfamiliar and uncomfortable with daily caregiving needs and demands.


To caregivers who have had to rush, push, or shove the square peg into the round hole it sure can feel like you are outside looking in.


In our story with Patti non-ambulatory and Multiple Sclerosis related bladder and bowel incontinence, Depends require changing at least as often as an able bodied person would visit a rest room. Changing an adult is weight lifting time and takes a customized room.


Christmas Day ‘visiting’ was a 10 hour outing full of good times (and more). Patti was exhausted as was I. My caregiving day ended waiting for the dryer to finish the third load of related laundry.


My day was mild contrasted to so many caregivers out there. … The elderly lost in thoughts of would they see another Christmas. … Family members with dementia blocking or erasing memories and even names of the family around them. … Children with physical and or cognitive challenges trying to grasp even the concept of Christmas.


Thank you all for being out there in the world.


"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”  (Francis P Church)


Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer


  1. Dear Patrick,
     I hope this Christmas held many more happy memories than challenges. It was our first Christmas that we weren't able to be with Tracy since she lives in Australia now, so some traditions seemed lame without her. And as you know, Christmas can be overwhelming to some so we had to take breaks with Nikki. I hope you, Patti, and Megan got all your Christmas wished fulfilled.

  2. I can well understand what you are saying here.  I have the priviledge of being on call, and have been for the last month, to help relieve the problems that carers face when they cannot cope. This Christmas has been no different from others as we receive calls from those at the end of their tether, with no family or friends nearby to help out, so they have to contact our charity.  It has been a exhausting few days for me, with 40 - 50 calls made either to us, or by me to track down carer support workers who can help out, and one lady admitted to residential care because her carer cannot get out of bed due to back spasms. Of course that staturory services are closed over the bank holidays, and emergency duty service in our area refers people to us if the carer needs someone to call on them to help them out.

    Mind you, try explaining to others around you what is going on when the phone interupts you for the umpteenth time in a day (and this morning even before my alarm went off.


  3. Sometimes in the past, I had wondered, 'Is it worth it?" Of course, the answer is (or was) YES! It is exhausting.

    Three loads of laundry? You're a good man, Patrick Leer.


  4. so glad you and Patti got to spend Christmas together with family:)


  5. Despite the challenges, it sounds like you had a nice Christmas with Patti and Megan.   This reminds me of some of the Holidays that were never quite as perfect as "his" family expected perfect Holidays to be.  I actually dreaded the holidays.  Enjoy every moment you can.    
                              Have a blessed New Year,  Leigh


  6. I am sure you made the holiday the best possible for those dear to you.  And the reason for the season is giving love to family and friends.  You made others happy and in doing so made the holiday good but tiring for you.  May your new year have fewer loads of laundry ( just kidding, because I understand a busy washer and dryer!);

  7. I'm glad you got to spend the holidays with family with all the challenges involved, there is still nothing like family; I learned that this past Christmas.

    May you all have the happiest of new years!


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