Monday, October 29, 2012

The Lord Will Provide

One of the most discouraging aspects of caregiving for family members with a terminal illness is witnessing the continual deterioration of their bodies. When my husband was first diagnosed with his neurological disease (multiple systems atrophy type c) in 2006 he was still able to work for awhile. After he quit working he gradually moved from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair, and then finally I had to use a lift with him the last months of his life.

The last months and perhaps weeks of my husband’s life the progression in his disease seemed to take more rapid dives downward. One good thing at that time was that I was able to rent a sit to stand lift. Someone from the office of aging and disability told me about this possibility, and so I pursued this. So in late October of 2010, my son and I went to take a look at this sit to stand lift at the HomeCare Resources store in a local town. A few days later the lift was delivered.

It took me a couple weeks and a couple demonstrations to begin to feel comfortable using this product. After I had all my questions answered about the proper use of the product and I had practiced using it for awhile, I felt fairly comfortable using it. With the lift I could get my husband transported from one of his chairs to the toilet, to bed etc. right on target. It was awkward using this lift and it involved some heavy pushing. It was doable, however.

Those days were difficult, but when I look back I am amazed at God’s provision step by step. I am amazed that God provided this lift so that I could keep Wayne out of the nursing home. I am amazed that I learned to use this device by God’s grace. I am amazed that God provided my C N A lady who helped some evenings and my son to help me during those last months. My house at that time began to look like a nursing home with all the disability equipment standing around, but the Lord provided.

God never promises us a life free from trials. He does promise to be with us each step of the way, however. I have a picture in my kitchen which says, “The Lord Provides.” He surely does provide. Whatever heartaches and challenges you are undergoing, dear Christian caregiver, know that the Lord is indeed with you step by step. He will provide.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Keeping Your Eyes on the Lord

As we discussed in our last post, life is like a race. It is often a difficult race filled with obstacles and challenges. It is a race of faith. It is important that we keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus. This is especially true of the caregiving race.

Dear Christian caregiver, keep you eyes on Jesus and not on others as you run with faith the caregiving race. If you look around at others it will discourage and distract you. If you concentrate on another’s race, it may seem to you that their life is much easier. First of all you do not know the struggles they may be facing. Secondly, it may cause envy in your heart. God has assigned you the race that is meant for you, and that is the caregiving race.

Or perhaps if you concentrate on others you may see others who seem to be “holding it together” better than you are. Again you do not know their struggles. Concentrating on others will only distract and discourage. It will hinder you. Concentrate on the Lord instead.

Also dear caregiver, do not look inward. If you focus on your limited resources and strength and your own issues you will become very discouraged. You may even want to give up. The truth is that we are very weak in ourselves. We are totally dependent on the Lord.

I remember those days during my caregiving years when I felt, as if I could not go on one more day. That was a good place to be in a way, because it made me realize that I was totally dependent on the Lord. Do not look inward, dear caregiver. Look to the Lord.

Finally, dear caregiver, do not look back. It is tempting during caregiving days to look back with longing to the way things used to be. As I saw my husband deteriorate before my eyes step by step, I grieved each step backwards. I also sometimes longed for days past. That really serves no useful purpose, however, except to discourage and impede.

Dear caregiver, God has assigned you the difficult but vitally significant job of family caregiving. Trust Him to give you the strength to run your caregiving race, and run that race with your eyes focused on the Lord. Don’t look back. Focus on Him.


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Caregiver's Race

Living life on this earth in many ways is like running a race. In fact, the Bible refers to our lives as a race which must be run with perseverance. I think this is especially true for caregivers. Caregving for a family member with a terminal or long term illness involves a determination and perseverance not found in many other of life’s experiences.

Running the caregiving race requires energy. It is demanding, emotionally and sometimes physically exhausting, and something which is never ending. To run this race successfully caregivers needs to rely on God Himself to supply them with the energy and strength to carry on day after day. Caregivers often feel low in energy, but God has promised to supply the strength to continue. It is also so important for caregivers to feed on God’s Word, so that they will have the spiritual nutrients to continue the exhausting caregiving race in which they are participating.

As we mentioned before running the caregiving race also requires perseverance. It requires a consistent determination to keep going even when tired or when uncertain where the road ahead will lead. This race can also feel very lonely to caregivers. As a caregiver for my husband with a long term terminal illness I so remember those feelings of fatigue. I also remember those feelings of fear and uncertainty about the future and the loneliness.

The Lord has promised to always be with us, however, in all of life’s challenges. As He was with me, He will be with you also, dear Christian caregiver. He will never forsake you. He will help you run your caregiving race with perseverance! Dear Christian caregiver, run the caregiving race keeping your eyes upon the Lord. Do this, for He alone is your source of strength. He also will keep you from quitting the race.

Everybody has a race to run in this life. The caregiver’s race is different than other people’s races. It is the race you have been assigned, however, dear caregiver. Run it in confidence trusting that you will be given the strength and energy to persevere.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Life’s Unexpected Twists and Turns

 By early October of 2010 a few months before my husband’s death my stress level was often extremely high. Things seemed to be getting more and more difficult in caring for my husband, Wayne. We would have some really good days, and then we would have some really difficult days when transfers were very difficult if not impossible.

I would become so weary of these constant highs and lows. I knew God was guiding me. I had seen that over and over, but it was still difficult. In early October of 2010 I wrote, “Frankly, there are days when I am not sure how much longer I can do this. It seems like every time I am at the end of my rope some other help falls into place, however. I will have to keep trusting. I realistically need to also at least look into all the options including possible nursing home in the future. I hope to avoid nursing home if at all possible, but I may not have a choice.”

Then by middle October 2010 life had taken some fairly rapidly developing unplanned twists and turns in just a weeks time. My husband’s motor and processing skills became increasing more limited at a much faster rate. Also my husband’s transfers had become increasingly difficult. Even the CNA lady that I had coming in at that time three times a week had noticed the difference. I had become increasingly concerned, and I had been feeling that I could not do this anymore. In the mix of all this my son who lives near by had lost his job. So in a way we had two families in crisis.

After somebody talked with me at church on a particular Sunday morning around that time showing concern for my well-being in all this, I decided to have a talk with my son and his wife. I told them that I was getting to the end of my strength in physically handling my husband and that I needed to at least check out nursing homes as a undesired but possible option. My son had already started helping me on nights when my CNA lady did not come. I felt that even that was not enough, however, as I still was handling the days alone at that time.

The upshot of all this was that my son decided since he was not working he would come four times a day most days to help me with transfers to the bathroom etc. of my husband. We now had a scheduled plan for this. The idea was that this would buy me time to at least check out other options.

This was definitely God’s timing. A few months after Wayne’s passing on to heaven my son found a new job (another story of God’s mercy and grace). In the meantime God provided me with the help I needed as Wayne’s caregiver. It was such a spirit lifter. My son and I were able to care for my husband’s needs until the day of his death, and my heart’s desire of avoiding putting Wayne in a nursing home was fulfilled.

I would not want to relive those difficult caregiving days especially the last few months. In fact even remembering those days is difficult. God was with me through it all, however. He always provided. He will provide for you also, dear caregiver.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Finding an Oasis in the Caregivng Experience

Because caregiving for a family member can be so intense it is important to take little breaks or an occasional oasis from caregiving. Both in October of 2010 and 2011 my husband and I went away for a few days to the WI Dells with my son’s family. My son’s family went to get lengths including taking out the back seat of their van to accommodate my husband’s mobility equipment or a special chair.

We also always enjoyed our Thursday nights suppers at my son’s family’s home. As long as I was able with my husband’s deteriorating health I also took occasional substitute teaching days, and I helped my daughter-in-law with home schooling our local granddaughters on Wed. mornings. I also sang in church choir and attended woman’s Sunday school.

I further attended some concerts with a group of ladies. About a half a year before my husband died I hired a C N A to help me a few nights a week, so I could attend these occasional concerts. I found when I had these little breaks from caregiving, I was better able to keep things in perspective and keep my spirits up.

Dear caregiver, caregiving for a loved one is so intense and stressful that it is important that you find an occasional oasis from your caregiving. If you can not leave your loved one alone at all, bring in someone else to stay with your loved one from time to time. Also plan and make a little oasis or spot in your home where you can retreat and regroup for awhile. Finally, I found I needed to rise earlier than my husband every morning to spend time with the Lord in prayer and Scripture reading. Finding these moments of oasis are essential to your emotional and spiritual well being, dear caregiver.