Two big changes are on the horizon. I am not looking forward to either of them. One is going to happen quickly, like flipping a light switch off, and the other one is more like a dimmer switch, being turned up and down erratically. The instant change is going to happen in about 2 weeks. The other one has already begun.
Change Number One:
Our dear Jason, who has served us so unselfishly for 6 months, is going to be leaving. His work needs are changing, precipitating his move back to Florida. I can't say enough about his kindness to us by doing all the "heavy lifting" for me. His jokes with Gary, his professional care for him, and the laughter will be missed. He has become like one of our own. If you haven't read the amazing story of how he came to us, Click HERE.
Change Number Two:
Gary's needs are changing too. Alzheimer's Disease is different with everyone. With Gary there have been some plateaus, but mostly it's been a steady progression of decline. As the years have rolled on, (7+ now) the progression seems faster. It has been a month since Gary has said anything to me. He rarely looks at me. He is only awake about 6 hours a day. But the worse thing seems to be his balance, and maneuverability. The mobility issues are having the biggest effect on me. A person alone has a very hard time walking Gary from one room to another or helping him get seated. Standing him up is lifting dead weight. Once on his feet, he can go for a walk with support on each side, but inside the house, it's all scissor steps, distractions and confusion so a single person has a difficult time walking him.
So Now What?
The caregiving is going to look different and the team is going to be bigger. ("We're gonna need a bigger boat" JAWS) I'm using the last couple of weeks with Jason here, to try several things. He is helping me with the transitions. We have new equipment, and procedures that I must get proficient with. We are trying new schedules, by condensing activities. I am trying new "locations" for Gary during the day. Ironically, by trying out new methods, I'm getting sore muscles, or feeling overwhelmed because of all the wasted motions, or wrong way to do things. I'm learning though, by tweaking HOW I do things, and in what order I do them, it's getting easier every day.
Figuring Things Out
I thought some may be interested in the process so I'll try to share some of it with you. If you have a loved one in an advanced stage of dementia, you may find it helpful, and if not, please pray for Gary and me. I am in great need of wisdom and grace.
This is a Hoyer Lift. It's the first one I've ever seen. If I can get proficient using it, work out the logistics of where to keep it, how to move it around, and how to place Gary in just the right place on the "hammock", then I (or any caregiver) can use it to get Gary into and out of bed, and into a wheelchair. Without it, you need two people. (Tried it again this morning and it was much easier than last time!)
Gary's hospital bed is on the right. He has actually had it for awhile, but now it's getting more use. Giving him dinner in bed eliminates the long difficult walk to bed at night when he's sleepy. I am learning to use the controls and the side rails to my advantage, to protect my back, and Gary as I help him with various things.
This is a bed table. We watch a movie, or live streaming with our dinner on the laptop. Well, Gary listens, and I watch while I feed him, because he has his eyes shut during meals. Don't know why, but I suspect it's too many senses going at once and he can shut out sight easily. After he eats, he usually watches with me for about 30 minutes. I treasure this time with him because we are doing something "together." After I brush his teeth, I sit next to him on my bed, and work on a project or read till he falls asleep at about 7:00.
This is my pile of notes. After a family conference a few weeks ago, we decided that I need to tackle 3 areas.
1. Gary's well being. What must be done, to promote his...
PHYSICAL comfort and safety
MENTAL stimulation, security, and relationships
2. Laurie's well being. What must be done, to promote my...
MENTAL stimulation, security, and relationships
3. The finances needed to pull this off! The Guys (sons-in-law), will help me figure this part out.
Next, I put an activity with each section. For instance, for Gary's Physical comfort he does best with at least one 15 minute walk each morning, certain foods, and lots of naps. To keep him safe, he can't be left unmonitored ever, and must always have 2 helpers for walking, etc.
Time and schedules come next. Once all our needs were written out, I needed to lay out a weekly schedule fitting caregiving into time slots. I've been brainstorming with our existing caregivers, about the changes I'm trying before I settle on a schedule. My goal is to have the schedule figured out in a few days, so I can start lining up more help.
All For Good
We recently had a short visit from our daughter, April. It was a precious time. I don't know what I'd do without the help and encouragement of our family. I am not in this alone. I am confident that ALL these changes will work out for good for us. I'm reading a great book on Romans 8:28 and plan to write a review for my Blog soon. Being in the hands of God is a good place to be. I'm just doing the next thing, which right now is to get Gary moved to the bedroom. "Hoyer Lift, I will take charge of you!"