Question: Dear Luise: I’m in desparate need of deliverance from negative thinking about my husband’s senility and my role as caregiver. I am not a sweetness and light type but I’m doing my best in a far from positive environment. He is in his late eighties and can’t remember anything on a short-term basis. He asks me what day it is and a few minutes he asks me what day it is. He doesn’t know when he has bathed or if he has eaten. Yet, in the “now” when we have a conversation, he is very present and capable of being both interactive and contributive. I take him out and it takes him so long to eat, I think I will go crazy, and when he goes into a public bathroom, he stays so long, other people pile up at the door if there is only one uni-john. That’s very common in the small town where we live. I try so hard to imagine how I will feel when it’s my turn…(I’m sixteen years younger). And I promise myself I will be patient and kind. Lots of the time I am, but not always. Help! May
Answer: Dear May: First of all I want to emphasize that you need to get help before you can find deliverance from negative thinking. You are in a very difficult situation. You just can’t do it 24/7. If you have no relatives to spare you, there are day-care centers in lots of towns and part-time caregivers you can hire or that come for free for low-income people. Arranging time off for your self is number one, get on it…right now.
I read something recently that states that many aging patients outlive their live-in caregivers. Don’t let that happen to you. I live in a retirement center where I often see such martyrdom evident. There’s an ethic that says, “I promised to be all and do all ‘til death us do part.” No one can be all and do all, indefinitely, and survive.
There are support groups out there as well as private counseling. Go looking for professional help with your situation. It’s normal to sometimes get angry and feel put-upon and to fall into a vat of guilt as a result. Talk to others who are in the same boat. Your best is not supposed to be perfection. Not even close! Remind yourself of that on a regular basis. And your best can fluctuate. There are good days and bad for both of you. The way our minister once put it is that it’s normal to want to push someone off a cliff, it’s just not normal or acceptable to do it! I found his attitude very refreshing.
You are asking for help with deliverance from negative thinking, when what you need is help with a situation that has many, very real, negative factors. You are wonderful to be providing the care you offer, and you matter…a lot. Be kind to yourself, first and foremost, and you will find positive thoughts will return. Blessings, Luise