“I Just Can’t Seem to Get on a Good Schedule,” Finding a Caregiving Routine that Works for You

May 2, 2009 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment

Are you the “put-it-off-til tomorrow type?” Or are you the “get-it-done-now” type of caregiver?
It’s okay to be either way. Caregivers and families come in all types.

I worried if I really could take care of my mom properly. She had Parkinson’s, heart disease, and later, Alzheimer’s. Those are some tough diseases with lots of medication and physical needs.

I’m a laid back kind of gal and I wondered if I “had what it takes.” On top of that, my mother didn’t mind telling me what to do…every day, all day long. Her personality was at the other end of the spectrum. She used to say to me, “I can do it while you’re still thinking about it.” I had to learn that each of us have gifts, and all our gifts are needed.

My mother’s medication schedule and doctor appointments ruled our days. I needed some “me” time–time to journal, to stretch, to call a friend, and to be with my husband or just take a bath. Figuring out how to put “me” on the “to do” list wasn’t going to easy…

I had to find a system that worked for me. I knew that if I cracked the whip and forced myself to get up at 5am that I’d be fussy and miserable, and I’d crack. I read up on my mom’s various medications and came to the conclusion that as long as I was consistent, it didn’t matter when I started or ended—every four hours was the important part.

I knew that my mom couldn’t walk well without her Parkinson’s medicine in her system and so I learned to appreciate our routine. Staying on schedule with her meds and exercise benefited both our lives. I wanted her to be able to walk. I wanted her to feel good and move easily. I sort of struck a compromise and created an 8, 12, 4, and 8 schedule of meds that allowed me a few precious hours of sleep in the morning. That helped because I usually got up with my mom 2 or 3 times a night. I encouraged her to prop herself up in the bed and spend the first few minutes in the morning relaxing and letting her meds “kick in.”

I came up with a sneaky plan to slowly “trained” my mom to sleep in a bit later than she was naturally used to. That meant backing it up and limiting her afternoon naps and getting her in bed for the night at about 8:30. Even getting my mom out each day to sit in the sun would help to set her circadian rhythms. She fussed at this, but once I got her out the door she loved sitting in my garden.

Isn’t a bit too bosy to give your mother a bedtime? I wish someone would give me a bedtime, make sure I’m bathed, tucked in cozy and kissed goodnight! Besides, her body needed one, and most definitely, her daughter needed her to have one. What if she woke up 6am? II made a plan: I kept a small container of crackers and a sippy cup of water near her bed—and made sure she could reach the remote control. Some mornings it actually worked!

Have you found a routine that’s working good at the moment? \

I hope you’ll leave a comment and offer your suggestions to fellow caregiver.
It’s so great to get a tip you’ve never thought of.
In the meantime, don’t give up, plan your day to match your natural rhythms.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving, sundown syndrome. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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