Caregiving has many facets. It can range from helping with grocery shopping and taking a loved to doctor’s appointments to full-time 24 hour care. In a way, it’s a journey and the landscape gradually changes. But sometimes a sudden drop-off appears, and your find yourself teetering on the edge of a cliff.
Many caregivers turn to prayer, hoping for a miracle. The Holy Spirit will dump a truckload of patience into my heart or tell me what to do next. It’s not that God doesn’t do those things, but many times his help is a little more worldly.
I’m reminded of the man sitting atop his roof while flood waters rise to the second floor of his home. He prays for help, and while he waits for God’s intervention, he turns down three good Samaritans in boats. He refuses help because he is convinced God is going to save him. When he drowns, he asks God why he didn’t help. “I sent you three people in boats, but you refused their help,” God said.
Here are three caregivers, in different situations. In each case, they are heading for a caregiving cliff.
Hannah’s husband is growing more confused by the week. It seems only a few months ago he was lucid 95% of the time, but lately, he has “spells” of confusion. He also tells of events that never happened, and the other day insisted he had to get to his university to take a final exam.
Hannah tries to deal with his confusion, but quickly becomes frustrated and raises her voice. Not that talking louder will make anything clearer. Afterwards, she feels guilty for raising her voice to the poor guy. It has come to a point where she no longer feels he is safe alone. She has become a prisoner in her own home. Yes, friends help when they can, but she doesn’t want to take advantage of their kindness. They never had children, so it’s just the two of them. What if something suddenly happens to her?
Fran’s father has stage four pancreatic cancer that has spread to his liver. His oncologist suggests another round of chemo to slow the metastasis and give him more time. The last series of chemo treatments gave him an upset stomach and diarrhea. He lost ten pounds, ten pounds he could not afford to lose. They never discussed his wishes before. Fran doesn’t want to scare him, influence his choices, or make him feel worse than he does already. The oncologist has nothing else to offer. How can Fran help her father decide what to do?
Joe, Jane, Mom and Pop
Joe and Jane looked forward the visit with his parents who live in Florida. The four always got along, and Jane loved Hank and Mary like her own mom and dad. At first all seemed well. They enjoyed dining out in their favorite restaurants and leisurely breakfasts in the Florida room.
Then Jane noticed her mother-in-law was having difficulty talking late in the evening when she was tired. She frequently dropped items and once almost fell. Joe could tell Hank was worried and he brought up the subject while the two were fishing off the dock. Turns out, Mary’s health has been slowing declining. Hank thought she needed help but was not sure what kind of help. He was doing all he could, but it was wearing on him.
Joe and Jane did not want to return home, leaving his parents to continue to fend for themselves. Something needed to be done, but what?
Good Samaritan in a Boat
These three caregivers could use help. Their loved ones aren’t in dire straits — yet. But they soon will be. In my next caregiver blog I will introduce you to a healthcare professional that could be a lifesaver for Hannah, Fran, Joe and Jane, and their loved ones. And mostly, perhaps, you.