We are continuing our June Blogger Series and exploring what a day in the life of a caregiver who cares for a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Today’s guest blogger is Kirsty , she is a full time independent caregiver (not a LivHOME Caregiver or Care Manager) for her grandmother in the UK. We wanted to give you a glimpse into what a day in her life is like helping care for her ‘Nan’ across the pond.
Here’s Kirsty’s story:
This is about my day to day life caring for my nan with dementia. I am currently in my early twenties, and quickly learned that partying 24/7 is not a viable life option while caring.
The morning starts with nan getting washed and dressed unaided then prompted to take her medication, then tea and toast. Ideally I would like for this time to be silent, so I can gather my thoughts for the day, but unfortunately it is the time of day when nan seems most wired, so we chat about plans for the day, the weather and the pets. Then it’s straight into chores for the day, be it washing nans hair, housework, ironing. Although nan may not remember to these activities herself, she likes to be invited to help so I try to include her as much as safely possible. Thankfully nan seems to enjoy ironing, so I fold and put away (allowing me to keep an eye on her in case she endangers herself). While undertaking chores we will discuss the weather, the pets, plans for the rest of the day.
Then we catch up with the news and nan’s lunch gets delivered. Pudding does come delivered with dinner, but nan always feels the need to have another so we have bought some low sugar jelly pots to ensure she is not harming her health. Over lunch we discuss the weather, the pets and the plans for the afternoon; which is our bonding time. We go through old photos, old family videos, collections and I try to encourage nan to remember something significant. Sometimes this is successful and I discover something amazing about nan, others it will drag nan into a silence as she feels unable to communicate what is in her head. Once nan falls silent I have found it is best to let her gather her thoughts, rather than try and prompt her out of it.
Late afternoon nan enjoys television so I use this opportunity to go upstairs for some me-time. During the news we discuss the tragedies in the world, the weather, the pets and the plans for the evening, including what to prepare for dinner. Throughout dinner we will talk about the pets, the weather and whether or not I have plans to go out that night. (This is unlikely as I have been out, maybe 5 times in the 10 months I have lived with nan). Then the soaps come on. This is my least favourite time of day. Nan enjoys them, or at least she would if she could remember who any of the characters are, or the storylines. So, I have to remember every character, their family and relationships and histories. Then at every scene change I answer nan’s questions, while still trying to keep up with what is going on, on screen, ready for the next round of questions.
After I have sorted out nan’s night time medication, I retreat upstairs to wind down for an hour. Then come back down, watch the news headlines, discuss the tragedies of the world, the weather and our plans for tomorrow. Once the news is over it is time to encourage nan to go to bed, lock up and discuss the day while she gets herself ready for bed. We then have a goodnight cuddle and once I can see nan is in bed I go back upstairs, make a list of things that need doing tomorrow e.g. pick up meds from pharmacy, book appointments, food shopping list, chores. Now I try to relax, destress and sleep, sometimes 6 hours, sometimes 3. However crappy I feel I’m up the next day using as many stress relief techniques as possible to get me through the day without bashing my head against a wall. Occasionally though I will get a special moment with nan that I know I will treasure, and that makes all of the repetition, the stress and the lack of youth/freedom worth it.
Thankyou for reading, if you enjoyed it please check out my blog to learn more about my thoughts and experiences in caring for my nan at www.livingwithdementiablog.wordpress.com