A day in a life of a caregiver

Friday night

6:00 p.m.

  • Conversate and engage my grandmother. One would think this is obvious but I could easily just sit on the couch and zone out to decompress from my full day at the office. So why is it important to talk with my grandmother? Well, because she is there waiting and wanting to be engaged. I need to make sure her mind stays active and prolong the affects of dementia and her dying mind. And who doesn’t want to be acknowledged? So of course I talk with her about her day.
  • Exercise. This can be in the form of structured exercises or putting on some music to get her up to dance and move her legs. She sits for over 90% of the day. Who could possibly sit that long and not go stir crazy?

7:30 p.m.

  • Bathroom break. This can take anwhere from 10 – 20 minutes even on a good day. There have been days when this takes even longer. Because my grandmother is also incontinent and suffers from dementia, she either cannot feel the sensations most of us do signalling the need to go to the bathroom or she does not know how to interpret those signals. Now this takes time. I have to help her undress from the waste down, help her sit down and I patiently wait. Sometimes, I even have to remind her of what to do so that she can fully go to the bathroom and relieve herself with minimal pain. Most times, she doesn’t recognize the discomfort as her body wanting to relieve itself so she holds that discomfort in. When done, I have to help her stand, clean her, put her clothes back on, assist her in washing her hands and then lead her out. Note that after every time she uses the bathroom, the bathroom is cleaned from the floor to the toilet to the sink.

8:30 p.m.

  • Get ready for bed. Now this doesn’t mean my grandmother actually goes to bed. Anyone who cares for someone with dementia knows that (s)he hardly ever sleeps through the night so having my grandmother sleep too early means she’ll be up earlier than the rest of us the next morning. Getting ready for bed means soaking the dentures, giving her some relaxing “Zzz tea” as we call it and taking her away from her drawing so that her mind has time to relax a bit.

9:30 p.m.

  • Time for bed. I help her get into bed as she has problems getting her body in the middle of the bed and tends to sleep right on the edge. Definitely not a good place for anyone to sleep during the night. I stay with her until she falls asleep. My leaving the room before she actually falls asleep will keep her up as she is frightened to be alone and waits for me. I wonder if that’s the case for most folks with dementia and that’s why they can’t sleep through the night?

7 thoughts on “A day in a life of a caregiver

  1. Thank you for this! I saw how difficult this was when I visited my aunt and uncle (they took care of my grandfather who had Alzheimer’s). But this post made me more aware of how many things need to be cared for, and the importance of motivation (be it for any job) and the need for well deserved wages… I could sense the exhaustion just reading this, I cannot imagine how tiring it would be everyday… you’re doing a great job! Being able to love your grandmother everyday amidst all of this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for following and reading! It is definitely tiring but it is definitely worth it. I guess, to a certain extent, it’s like what parents feel like raising children. And I just keep thinking, “what if it’s me in her shoes one day”, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow seriously reading all the things you have on your schedule everyday with your grandma is exhausting. I definitely don’t know how you do it. You truly have a heart of gold and so much patience. As I was reading I was suddenly reminded of how much you needed this trip right now. It’s a mental wellness trip bc you need a break and just be ‘Missy’ and ‘Missy and Alex’ right now. You are so strong. Can’t forget that you also have a senior diabetic dog to take care of too. I can’t even imagine. Fighting my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this post. My husband and I care for my father who is battling Stage IV Prostate cancer. He is now on hospice and we receive help from nursing staff 3 times a week. I admire your strength and your ability to take on each day with a fresh perspective. But I totally understand the days when it is tough just to get through each minute. I get it. I understand. And I will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you for writing with vulnerability!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow! Good on both of you for taking on that level of care. It’s amazing how we can get renewed strength despite thinking we are at our lowest with nothing left to give. I wish the government would give us all more days of care from nursing staff. It’s great to have 3 days but seldom do people realize just how intense and draining (emotionally and physically) it is to care for a parent. You and your husband are beautiful souls indeed. Thank you for finding the time to read and comment. You all will also be in my thoughts and prayers. It takes a village, right? I’m glad to know we are not alone.


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