Family Caregivers

Help in the Trenches

I’ve written before about the need for help when you are caring for someone with dementia.  I told you how very much I appreciate all of the staff at Gentog for the loving care they give my Grandma.  I bragged about my brother who continues to call EVERY day at 6pm to take Gram away from her troubles…she spends 20-30 minutes every evening just talking and laughing with him right in the middle of what can be a really tough time for people with dementia.  His phone calls give me a chance to finish my work during the week, and they give my mom a break on the weekends.

Today I want to tell you about how my immediate family helps me every day. We have an intergenerational household.  Gram is with us 5 nights a week.  My adult children live with us.  My first (and most perfect!) grandchild also lives with us.  There are 7 people in this household…and 6 of us work together to care for Gram.  Here is how…

First thing in the morning, Gram gets up, puts on her bathrobe and finds her way downstairs to the kitchen, seeking coffee.  Thankfully my husband is an early riser.  That coffee maker is already on and full of the comfort she seeks.  Jim is there to share the Today Show with her while she drinks her coffee and I steal the time I need to shower and get ready for the day.  He’s even taken to making her toast recently, so when I get downstairs she is ready for her morning pills.

When my daughter isn’t working, going to class or dancing, she’s also up in the mornings, greeting Gram. IT was Ebony that noticed  Gram’s shoes were wearing out, and it was she that bought her new ones.  She carefully chose just the right “grandma” shirt and necklace for Mother’s Day.  If she’s up in the mornings, she helps make breakfast for Grandma.

Alex has always been the “mellow fellow” to my Gram.  There has always been a special place in her heart for him, and she still brightens when he comes in the room.  He is gentle with his answers when she questions him about where her room is (for the 25th time).  Yessenia married into our family 14 months ago, and I love her dearly for her soft, kind responses to Gram’s fears and questions. One recent morning she found Grandma leaning against the rail, looking so sad.  She sweetly asked what was wrong, and Gram said she just did not know where she was, and it scared her.  Yessenia gently reminded her where she was, and guided her downstairs.

And then there is our baby boy.  Braylon does not yet speak (he’s only 3 months old!) But you cannot imagine the joy he brings to Gram just by being in the room.  He’s learning to smile, making their interactions so much sweeter.  Just seeing a photo of him can bring Gram from an agitated state to calm.  Baby magic is something to behold!!

So as I continue on this caregiving journey, I thank God daily for my wonderful family.  Their help with Gram is the greatest gift they have ever given me.