As time goes by, you will get into a routine. Within a few weeks, your care will get into a system. Of course, some days will go smoother than others. Your patience level will be higher some days. His tolerance for being tormented will be lower on others. His view of what being tormented is, might often be having someone wake him up at a normal time of day. In some areas, you will need to be tough and in other areas, tender. Often, you will need GOD’s wisdom to know the difference.
For those of you not used to caring for people who are sick, remember: We are not being mean when we wake our loved one for medication, meals, and treatments. This is particularly true if they have a tendency to sleep a lot. It is very individualized. Do they tend to stay within the perameters of the schedule and they just had a bad night? Sometimes you can be flexible if they aren’t diabetic. Do they tend to stay up late after it is time to go to bed and they are in danger of throwing off their sleep schedule? Then you may want to wake them up more aggressively so they won’t get off schedule and you have more problems on your hands.
Each day will have its own demands for grace. You will need grace from God to have the energy to do what needs to be done. He will need grace to live with his limitations. You will both need to find places to laugh, show affection, even to cry together. This is especially true if you are married to the person you are caring for.Whatever baggage you had before your loved got sick will be intensified now that you are his caregiver. Click To Tweet
What was your relationship like before this Event?
How did the Event change your relationship?
Depending on what your relationship was before the illness, that will affect the ease with which you will make the adjustment after they are living with you with their new limitations. Has he been able to deal with being weak/sick before? This can bring out very negative behavior, honestly. If he was never sick and now is quite weak, he will not be happy and may be quite depressed! Encouraging walks, interaction with other humans, exercise, etc. will help a lot as they do for anyone who is depressed.
If this is a parent, what was your relationship like before? Did you get along well or did you have a lot of topics you avoided to keep from arguing? Whatever baggage you had before she got sick will be intensified now that she is in your home. You will need to start dealing with it.
Being seen in a position of power may change some of the ways your loved one and others in the family may relate to you now. As a caregiver, realize that you are in a position of power…or might be seen that way. If you are seen this way, it may be shifting the balance of power in the relationship before your loved one was sick. Watch to see how they are doing in relation to this kind of situation. Whether you are dealing with your spouse or parents, it is often helpful to understand this, especially if you aren’t motivated by power!
It might make some of the interactions that go sour, make sense.
When you are wanting to help someone get their shower at 10 AM so they can be ready for a special lunch visit at 11:30 and they get obstinate about it, you need to point out that you are trying to help them so they will be able to do this activity they wanted to do for fun. (That explanation may not help.) Learning how to motivate the person can often be a challenge. They may see someone who is trying to take power and control away from them. What you are trying to do is give them an enjoyable lunch. It might be a challenge to think outside the box…and even more so if her mental acuity is not good.
Finding out how to communicate with them in ways that show you are ministering to them, not trying to take over may be a challenge. It can often be complicated by their weakness, medications, memory problems and/or their grieving over losses they are experiencing. It all gets very complicated. You will need to be in prayer for wisdom, whether it is with a spouse you thought you knew or parents you have never lived with during your adult life.
Learn positive communication skills. Don’t be a stoic! Speak up if they are hurting you. Apologize if you are hurting them.
Find positive ways to communicate with the person you are caring for. Don’t be a stoic. There is nothing Biblical about that! It will eat you up inside. In many ways, it is a very safe way to go. When you keep everything inside, you don’t have anything to clean up. You don’t have to apologize…in theory. But you will find yourself becoming numb at best and resentful at worst. You won’t enjoy the people around you. You won’t enjoy the love and care that comes your way because you have a wall built to protect you from hurt and pain. It also keeps you from feeling the joy and love that is coming to you.
When you have difficulty with your relationships as you give care to the person you love, be open with them to the degree it is possible, given their limitations. Yes, sometimes you have to decide to overlook some things. GOD can help you do that. But when you overlook, that doesn’t include storing it away to hold against them later. Overlooking is a form of forgiving. It is a conscious decision to not hold it against them and to forgive, often because I know they are in a situation where they don’t know what they are doing or may not be responsible. If they are responsible, then it is probably necessary to have a time when you talk to them honestly.
There are times when we need to let them know what the effect of their unkind words is on us.
There are times when it is very appropriate to let them know the effect their unkind words have on you. “I feel…” statements are helpful. They don’t accuse, but state clearly that the effects of their words cause hurt and pain. Some people have been allowed to get away with using hurtful words simply because they are sick, or unhappy, or…. They become miserable and make life miserable for those who have to be around them! An example: “I feel like a piece of dirt on the floor when you talk to me that way. Do you think you could find another way to let me know you don’t like what is happening without saying it that way?”
No, we don’t live in a perfect world. But if someone is living in our home, we want to have it be a place where human beings are honored and respected. We will apologize when we are disrespectful and they will be called on it when they are disrespectful. That can be a rule of thumb. They don’t have to be Christians to behave that way. We aren’t asking for a behavior that is way out of the mainstream. We are simply asking for kinder words to be spoken and we are expecting the same standard from ourselves. These are a few considerations for the early months at home and will set the tone for the months and years ahead.
*This link from Tara Barthel’s blog tells about ingredients of a good apology.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another,
forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
to which indeed you were called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.