about writing and life and God

Dementia Diary 2: Take Care of Him

on September 1, 2012

I said I’d explain why the working title for my new book is ‘Take Care of Him’. Here’s the answer:

For most of our loved ones there comes a time when we cannot look after them appropriately or safely on our own at home. For some of us, our own health breaks down (that’s what happened to me) and help is crucial. Bringing in a paid carer or having a loved one go into residential care can be very painful. It feels like disloyalty. Admitting defeat. Failure. There’s guilt and lots of other negative feelings. But when we get to the stage where simply saying to ourselves or a friend ‘I just can’t do this any more’ and the main feeling is relief –  then it is time for a change in the way our loved one is cared for.

Having us struggling on when we’re way past the end of our strength is no way to provide good care. It’s a hard choice but for the best if our loved one will receive better quality care from someone else. This is not us giving up – it’s us wisely delegating.

And this is where the title comes from – the story of the Good Samaritan:

A Samaritan… bandaged his wounds… Then he put him on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will pay you for any extra expense you may have.’ Luke 10: 33b-35

Like the Good Samaritan, our love and care continues, but in a different way. Notice the Samaritan didn’t stay on at the inn for as long as the injured man needed him. He did the initial bit, then he paid for continued help which he planned and supervised. This now becomes our role, and it is just as important as the hands-on caring we used to do.

A prayer at this time: Dear Lord, help us to know when it is right to bring in other carers or make the move to residential care. Guide us to the best people, the best place for my loved one. Go ahead of us and smooth the way to make the transition as easy as possible. And comfort us as we let go. Amen.

And a self-care suggestion: You may find yourself moping and not knowing what to do with your new free time. Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a kind of grieving as you let go and deal with the change in your relationship. Use some of the time to get some real rest. Don’t tackle long-ignored chores! Rest, nap and sleep are a priority. Treat yourself like a convalescent till you start to feel more like yourself again. It takes time but it will happen.

(This appears in my first book for carers: One Day at a Time, published by SPCK in2010, and will appear in the new one. I do hope it helps other care-givers. As I said in a previous post, I find it hard to think up good self-care suggestions. One goes at the end of each meditation and I need 40 for the new book, so I’m asking for help!

Please send your suggestion, maximum 50 words (sorry, 150 was a slip of the finger!) as a Comment to my blog and I’ll choose one winner each month for the four months till I have to deliver the manuscript to the publishers at the end of this year. The prize is a copy of One Day at a Time. I’ll give a full credit to the writer of any I use. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!)


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