Summer is when nature turns up the heat. Here in the Sacramento Valley, we grow some of the world’s best food. It wouldn’t be possible without the long, hot, summer days.
In the caregiving season, the heat is turned up as well. We’re hit with the stark reality that life is changing, and we better get used to it.
“There’s a new dent in the car, Dad,” I said over dinner with my parents. They exchanged a look.
“Well, yes, Dad had another little episode,” my mom explained. “His foot slipped off the brake as he made the turn into the garage.”
“Again?” Uh oh. Not good.
Many years ago, Dad offered to teach me to drive when I reached the minimum age in California. He had lots more patience than my mom. The first time I got behind the wheel, Dad instructed me to back slowly out of the driveway into the street. I didn’t think the car was going fast enough, so I pressed my foot on the accelerator and gunned it. We shot across the street, straight into the neighbor’s station wagon, parked in front of their house.
We jumped out of the car to examine the damage. The neighbor was more gracious than I deserved. He meandered down his driveway, looked at the dent in the door, and commented, “Well, I guess it’ll match the dent in the other side.” Now Dad had matching dents in his car.
Do you remember the story of the frog in the pot of boiling water? The theory is, if you put a frog in a pot of tap water, then turn up the heat, the frog will gradually increase his internal temperature as the water heats. He will literally boil himself to death.
Looking back on my dad’s gradual decine, I was the frog in the water. I didn’t know to ask for help.
When you are easing into caring for your elderly loved ones, don’t let yourself boil. Caregiving is difficult, both physically and emotionally. Reach out for help. Find a support group. Talk to a friend about your journey. Pray without ceasing.
If you search the internet using the words “caregiving” or “caring for elderly parents,” you’ll find hundreds of resources. Here are a few of my favorites:
- christiancaregiversupport.com (Daily devotions, smartphone app for prescription reminders, book reviews) This website has a wealth of information for caregivers
- focusonthefamily.com offers counseling and prayer for life issues such as caregiving
- caregiverstress.com (information on end-of-life discussions with loved ones, home care, self-care)
- AARP.org (Caregiving Resource Center, Care Provider Locator, Long Term Care calculator)
If I had known then what I know now, I would have reached out for help much sooner.
In my next post, I’ll talk about the autumn of the caregiving season, what to expect and how to deal with the new reality. Feel free to connect with me through this blog or on social media.