By Barbara Ivey –
I never cared for my mother during her Alzheimer’s.
My dad considered Mom’s care to be his duty as her husband. To Dad’s credit, he took full command of Mom’s care and served her with honor.
Still, from the start, I knew there were ways I could contribute. My challenge was to figure out how to do so, from where I lived ninety miles away. Having had remarkable results using Lean in my consulting practice, I wondered how I could apply those principles to this situation.
In Lean, processes can be improved when defects and other kinds of excess are identified. I set my mind to contributing in different ways and learning from the results.
Defects in the contributions I made were easy for my dad to spot and point out. I overstayed my welcome several afternoons, unaware that Dad was clearing the decks before Mom began sundowning, and Dad exploded in anger. I pushed Dad to consider care options that he had yet to believe would benefit Mom, and Dad pushed back.
Each time, I improved on the defects that Dad identified, and tried again. Each time, the lessons I learned by identifying and addressing the defects were treasures. I learned that at times my father knew best. I learned that at times I knew best. I learned that Dad needed more patience, more compassion, more forgiveness, and more love during caregiving than I ever imagined. And I learned that at times I needed the same from my husband as he supported me in my unique brand of caregiving.
The Perfect Thing blog is for you if you are in a similar place in your life. If you have a parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and a parent who is a caregiver. In the blog, I share true stories of family events during my mom’s Alzheimer’s. I share my defects and what I learned by identifying and improving on them. I offer questions you can ask yourself to challenge your assumptions. I share things that improved my family’s journey, or that would have had they been available back then.
In addition to the blog, I also create resources for Alzheimer’s Kids. In my first title, Patterns in Time, you can find answers to questions that come up when a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s: What can I expect? What might happen next? How can I find help? What should I look out for? What do terms like respite and sundowning mean in the context of Alzheimer’s?
In my second title, Patterns at Hand, an overview of Alzheimer’s is shared with a spoonful of sugar to help it go down. In this case, the sweetener is colorful photographs of the granny squares my mom crocheted during her years with Alzheimer’s. My family’s story threads through it and is gently told in verse. The combination of the two is impactful and I hope memorable.
When Alzheimer’s took my mom, my life was spared. Every day I marvel at God’s grace and mercy. Every day I am truly thankful. I believe that the resources I share are Alzheimer’s life-preservers. I believe they might actually help save your life during your Alzheimer’s journey.
Read some of my blog posts and see if they work: The Perfect Thing.
Your Friend on the Journey,