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AARP Caregiving Summer Break Contest

 

Summertime often means taking breaks and planning vacations. Both of these can be a bit tricky while caring for a loved one.  Have you traveled with your loved one recently or are you planning to?  

Share your experience here and you will be entered in our Caregiving Summer Contest 2018 and could win one of the weekly $100 gift cards or a chance for the overall winning prize of $500 gift card. Your story may be advice or inspirational!

Review rules here:  https://community.aarp.org/t5/Caregiving/AARP-Caregiving-Summer-Break-Contest-2018/m-p/2023713#M67

AARPTeri
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Hi,

 I never thought caregiving would be this hard. I have been taking care of my Mother for the last 6/7 years (really almost since she retired).

At first it was just the usual, picking up meds taking her to doctors appointments and shopping.

But last year everything horrible changed, Mom had two strokes and gallbladder surgery.

So now I’m giving meds, I did that before but now it’s a fight.

 I’m cleaning her, feeding her and trying my best to exercise her. I have family members that should be pitching in to help but all I get is text asking what am I doing for her care not even how I’m holding up or what does Mom need to make her life better.

 I’m doing this all by myself.

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@MillicentD73018 wrote:

Hi,

 I never thought caregiving would be this hard. I have been taking care of my Mother for the last 6/7 years (really almost since she retired).

At first it was just the usual, picking up meds taking her to doctors appointments and shopping.

But last year everything horrible changed, Mom had two strokes and gallbladder surgery.

So now I’m giving meds, I did that before but now it’s a fight.

 I’m cleaning her, feeding her and trying my best to exercise her. I have family members that should be pitching in to help but all I get is text asking what am I doing for her care not even how I’m holding up or what does Mom need to make her life better.

 I’m doing this all by myself.


Hi Millicent, I'm sorry i didn't see this post. There are other threads of conversation where you might get more response. And i hope you see this and that it helps. First let me say that it's bad enough that other family members are not helping, but to basically demand info on what you're doing as though to critique???? Good grief. Is it every possible to have a family meeting? Say to the other folks, if you're going to add your 2 cents, then come see how it is before you add your advice or criticism: let's all sit together and figure out how we can ALL help her out. 

 

Did your mom give you power of attorney? Is she still able to do that, to name you and sign a document that names you? All you need is a form called health care power of attorney, free on the web, and 2 witnesses who aren't related to you, to witness her signing, and then they sign, and you're good to go. There's an expert series on this happening, with advice by Amanda Singleton: i plan to keep track of it and learn a lot. 

 

Does your mom have savings? Can she afford to hire help, even for one day a week? have you found out what is available for free in your area? Look at www.eldercare.gov and type in your zip code, then call the agency that pops up. 

 

How ARE you doing?

Write more? 

A big virtual hug to you, Millicent. Your mother is a lucky woman. And please take care of yourself. I know it's hard to do sometimes.

Jane

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As some of us know, we became caregivers without really knowing that caregiving would be part of our next duty in life.  Each Caregiving Experience is unique according to the city their in along with preparation for such occurrences.  However, it is so very important that no matter how hard it may be, but to always take time for themselves so they can be more attentive to the individual.  Foot messages are always in order, not to mention the hands and neck, whether by Caregiver or a professional.  I recently saw my mother and my aunt, who uses a walker, off to the airport to visit their sister in New York.  I found getting up before everyone & making sure they had something a little hearty on their stomachs, bags were packed in advance, left hours before flight time to allow for wheelchair services along with possible traffic delays, and thank God! all went well.  Even on their return letting Guest Services know what baggage carousel to wheel them to.  All went well to the point of me having a nice meal prepared for them when we arrived home.  Preparation can be a caregiver's best friend.

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@ChristinaD996445 wrote:

As some of us know, we became caregivers without really knowing that caregiving would be part of our next duty in life.  Each Caregiving Experience is unique according to the city their in along with preparation for such occurrences.  However, it is so very important that no matter how hard it may be, but to always take time for themselves so they can be more attentive to the individual.  Foot messages are always in order, not to mention the hands and neck, whether by Caregiver or a professional.  I recently saw my mother and my aunt, who uses a walker, off to the airport to visit their sister in New York.  I found getting up before everyone & making sure they had something a little hearty on their stomachs, bags were packed in advance, left hours before flight time to allow for wheelchair services along with possible traffic delays, and thank God! all went well.  Even on their return letting Guest Services know what baggage carousel to wheel them to.  All went well to the point of me having a nice meal prepared for them when we arrived home.  Preparation can be a caregiver's best friend.


It sure as heck is not Summer any more. I'm grateful you posted this, and as it turns out, it's Thanksgiving Day. You certainly did prepare them for the trip. And you are a gift to your mother and your aunt. I hope you get enough breaks and nourishment of body mind and spirit to sustain you. 

 

Jane

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Hello,

My name is Donna and I have been caring for my parents for 6 years. My father was the first to start losing the uphll climb but we had many laughs, at his expense, because he had dementia. I loved walking into a room and getting the big hello as if I had just arrived there with a cup of coffee in my hand or right after we had dinner. I would ask him hw his dinner was and he would say it was great then I would tell him I made it.. nice of you to bring some over. Then there were days he would forget to put his pants on and stroll through my daughter's house bare butt. We would laugh, because my father was such a modest man if he knew, well we would find his pants and put them on him. When the time came for dispoable pants they were a chore trying to keep on since he ripped them off within  an hour of having them on, good things we always had blankets. Dad feel quite ill and within 7 weeks he died, 2015, I then moved my mother back to our home state. When we moved she was doing quite well and had the ability to walk and carry on conversations. Now she does neither and caring for her full time is becoming, well,.... draining. I feel as though I am losing myself. I get 6 hours of care a week from the visitng nurses, but honestly it is not enough. Medicare does not provide long term health care which I think is a shame considering we pay into it all of our working lives. Caring for my mom is very different then caring for my dad. She needs constant cueing and she cannot get up without her gait belt  and hands on supervision so I am always on call. My debt has gone up considerably since the expense for her needs have risen and now I am totally broke. I cannot afford to hire someone to care for her inorder for me to have a weekend away.  I spend everyday here in the house without much conversation. My life is nonexistient and I need a break. I know there are many people with similar stories and wish we could alll win. I plea that people, after reading this, see that a woman of 60 is losing the battle and needs a reprieve. 

Thank you...

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My name is Hope and I want to talk about my oldest Son David.  He has been my other son caregiver since he was a 14yrs old. He left my house to take care of his own family. When his brother was in a group home..He decided to take him in his home to live with him and his family.  He gives him 24/7 care which means bathing,feeding(he has a feeding tube)buying all he needs.  He never goes out to places because he does not want to be to far from his brother.   I thing he needs a weekend of rest of an gift certificate for all he does.       Thank you for listening to my plea. He does not know what I am writing about him. I am 68yrs old and he looks out for me too,God Bless Him.

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Periodic Contributor

Your son sounds like an amazing man.  You must be an amazing mom to raise such a caring son.

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Hello,

 My name is Roberta.

I'm 57 year's old.

 I take care of my two grandson's Little Carlos ( 6 year's old ), and Abraham ( 4 year's old ).

 We like to play monster's, we chase each other around the house saying Rah, rah, growl, growl!

 We also play bucking horse they ride around on my back, and try to stay on.

 Other thing's that we do is go to the park, swing, teeter totter, merry go round, explore the woods for bird's, or bug's.

 We also like to go to the swimming pool one or the other will hang onto my neck while I swimm around, we also play water polo, and various other game's.

 Sometimes we go to Chuckie Cheeses.

 On some day's we watch different family movie's

 When it comes bed time we'll read a story.

 Thank you for reading my Care Giving Summer Story.

Sincerely, Roberta.

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My husband and I care for his 86 year old father.  We have been doing this for over four years now since my mother-in-law passed away.  My father-in-law still lives in his own home, but we are only 10 minutes away.  He was diagnosed with Alzheimers shortly after his wife passed.  Every other day we go to his house to clean, take him to the bank and the grocery store (he can only use the microwave as he has forgotten how to use the stove or oven) and then out to eat.  We also bring him to our house once or twice a week for a home cooked meal.  Our 23 year old son also lives with us and is a single parent to our 1 1/2 year old grandson. So we not only have my father-in-law to care for, but we also have our grandson while our son works.  Some days are extremely hectic with a screaming baby at the grocery store and also having to look out for my father-in-law so that he doesn't mow people down with his motorized shopping cart.  Or it may be at the restaurant where the baby is screaming and throwing food while my father-in-law keeps asking if he ordered yet, and if so, what did he order.  We patiently listen to the same stories over and over again, acting as if it's the first time we've heard it. Sometimes it can be annoying, other times it just feels sad.  Keeping two homes clean and managing doctor appointments for both my father-in-law and the baby is a lot of work. Not to mention paying his bills and worrying because he tells every telemarketer that he's 86 and lives alone.  And since we also call him every night to make sure he's OK, at least once or twice a month my husband had to make the trip to his house because the phone has been left off the hook but we are imagining that he has fallen and only made it to the phone but could not call.  It's constant stress. So we have decided to make our lives even more hectic.  We live in Wisconsin, but my father-in-law was born in Olean, NY.  He begged us, saying it is his dying wish to go back to Olean and see what it is like.  So next week, we are boarding a plane with my father-in-law and flying to Buffalo then renting a car to drive him to Olean.  An entire week with every waking and sleeping hour with my father-in-law.  Ever since we purchased the non-refundable plane tickets, we have wondered how we are going to survive this trip.  But we will survive and we will have given an old man his dying wish.  He is so excited.  He's been looking at his high school year book to see who he can look up when he gets there.  He says he just hopes the hotel will have a phone book!  Even though we have told him at least 50 times that we are leaviing on the 23rd, and even though I have circled the date on his calendar with a red sharpie, every night when we call he asks "Are we leaving tomorrow?"  He has even said that it would be funny if he died in Olean since he was born there, and to be honest, that is a concern.  Are we doing the right thing?  Is this trip going to make him worse somehow?  But we are going because when you love someone, how can you deny them their last wish?  I'm fortunate enough to be retired now.  I can help both my father-in-law and my grandson.  And just for fun, on our way back to the Buffalo airport, we are spending the day at Niagra Falls.  Here's hoping that everything goes well for all of us!  

 

Lisa Garr

lgarr99@aol.com

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My husband is unable to travel now.  He is rarely even able to get up & go sit outside anymore.  My daughter had ordered a gait belt to be sent to us when he first started having mobility issues.  Together with a transfer board, it has been a huge help to us. 

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very nice

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When planning a trip to the beach / lake, we have to take a lot into account.

Walking difficulties, hills or steps, asthma, arthritis, and a bad back do not make a good combination. And the distance to the nearest restroom can be daunting.

On our last vacation, we stayed "within walking distance" of the lake. Apparently, we were on the "wrong side" for my mom to get down to the beach. The stairs were too steep for her, so I drove her around to the other side. The stairs weren't as steep and there was actually a path beside the stairs that she could navigate easier than the steps themselves. Since there was no parking nearby, the kids went down with her while I drove back and then walked down myself.

Luckily, there were restrooms up above on the side she could navigate. When it was time to go, I went back and got the car to pick Mom up. Everyone had fun, and Mom enjoyed spending time with the kids in the water where her difficulties seemed to melt away.

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@CarolynE960730 You are an amazing daughter and your mom is a lucky woman! Thinking creatively ahead about all of the details that need adjusting to make that kind of a trip work isn't easy (I know - I had many trips and outings when caring for my sister and both of my parents for many years). And no matter how much we plan there is always some unforseen glitch that throws things off - that's why flexibility is such an important trait to have when caregiving! Kudos to you! What an impact those trips have on your mother's quality of life...and so many good memories with grandkids...and the healing water. I'm sure it's worth all the effort, right?

 

Hope you have many more joyful moments with your mother in the future! 

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and

Color Your Way Content When Caring for Loved Ones

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It is SOOO worth it. She married my dad when I was 7 (married a guy with 4 kids). I was a handful - a tomboy in the 70s who wanted to play sports with the boys. It did lead to a little trouble. She was there for me through every surgery and hospitalization, broken fingers and toes, sprained ankles, cracked ribs, a sliced open finger... everything.
Then, when I was in my 20's, first she had a compound ankle fracture. It required surgery and rods being inserted. She couldn't use crutches, so was wheelchair bound for 3 months. A few years later she had hairline fractures of her C-3 and C-4 vertebrae and a broken collarbone in a car accident. We got her through that. A few years after that, she had hernia surgery and ended up with a major infection (ecoli and salmonella in the wound) that almost killed her... we got her through that.
Then she had some pretty good years, but has arthritis in her neck, back, and ankle. She uses a walker 60-70% of the time, but loves swimming.
The girls love her so much. We try to visit at least once a month and every year, we go on vacation and the lake or someplace with an accessible pool are our first priority. It is what works for us.
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Sounds like you lucked out with her! And you were a handful 🙂 I love hearing that you so aware of what she did for you and that you take such joy in doing for her. Really - the fact that you identify what she loves and make sure she can do it - priceless! That is love in action!!!

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

 

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I am traveling to Disney with my family this Novemeber and am glad to have AARP backing us.

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my mom could definetly use a break she takes care of my father who has been recently diaognosed with dementia. she does her best and she does everything to take care of him. it would be wonderful if she could just have some time to herself. i love her oh so much and she is the greatest person i have ever have the foutune of meeting

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Getting away with a loved one is always a special time even if your their caregiver. Just remember patience it's not always easy but time is so short and every day could be the last. Cherish every memory even if it's hard getting the accommodations for the trips is well worth it. I cherish every moment with my mother in law. 

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We are planning to go to the Redwoods before summer ends. Some people in my family have difficulty walking/hiking so we plan to take in the sight seeing slowly and enjoy every step of the way that we have together. Can't wait to take photos~!

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Every summer we take my mom up to New Hampishere where she grew up.  She still has a friend up there and we make sure she visits there.  When we go it take more time because we have to stop every hour so she can get out of the car and walk around because of all her arthitis.  We also make sure everyone goes to the bathroom.

 

While up in New hampishere we stay in a cabin and take all our food and we have a kitchen, so we can eat in because she gets tired easily.  We do a activity every other day and then take a day off and it helps that we don't have to go out to eat all the time.  I precook everything and just heat up when we get there.  We usually stay a week and it is nice and relaxiing.  

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My wife and I coordinate with two of her siblings so we can take a break with peace of mind for the care of her father. Although there is a grandson whom also live there, caregiving is a 24/7 job so one sister-in-law oversee the care during the week and one brother-in-law take over for the weekend. My wife for years make sure there are two filled pill box containers at the house at all times. She also have two filled pill boxes at our home so if anything was to happen to us, family would be able to come to our home and get the reserve pill boxes so Dad would still have continuity of his medications. She also text all the siblings to make sure everyone is aware of Dad's needs during the time we are gone. I hope this help someone but pre-planning ahead of times for the unexpected is our key for taking time out for ourselves without the guilt.

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we went to ocean city, maryland.  

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Taking care of my mother was not the easiest task.  She had a lot of problems breathing so planning for her oxygen and how she was going to get around was very important.  It took planning and attention, but in the end, really, thats whats important.  She wanted to spend time with us and she wanted to be included so that was what we did.

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Me and my husband had to retire early due to some health issues. We also care for our special needs Grandson Anthony. Due to our early retirement we live on a tight budget and it also forced us to move from our beloved city New Orleans to Alabama where my husband is from. Anthony had always wanted to go to the beach. With the right budget we have to live by and no help at all from Mom or Dad, we haven't been able to fulfill his dream of the beach and collecting seashells. Maybe we will win a little something in this contest so we can fulfill a wonderful little boys dream. If not, no matter what we will get Anthony to that beach no matter what it takes. We will do without our medicine and other things to fulfill our promise to him.

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I could really use a break as well.  My husband has been struggling with health issues from a broken femur, to being diagnosed with black lung  over the past 5 years.  He has been in and out of the hospital many times.  I am all alone in caring for him.  he is the love of my life, but sometimes I feel so busy that I forget that I am even a human.  

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I would load up my wife and all my grand kids and take them on a vacation. They haven’t ever been on a real vacation before. 

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Never had kids of my own, but started fostering a couple kids in need.  Hard to travel, but my life is so much richer now than it ever was.  Wouldn't give it up.

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My husband and I don't have vacations due to all the complications and constraints involved with his paralysis which put him in a wheelchair and my own health issues. We do, however, go on day trips with a fully charged chair and some emergency supplies (i.e. bottles of water, wipes, meds and a urinal) in case we get stuck someplace which has happened. We are usually less than 50 miles from home. We recently had a ramp attached to the back of our van to travel with the wheelchair. In February we went to dinner and the Shriner's circus at the fairgrounds. We had a fantastic time and didn't need to use the facilities. It was bitterly cold and snowing that evening and it took me an hour to get the chair on it and strap it down. I hope we can go again next year in nicer weather. It now takes me less than ten minutes to strap the chair down.

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My husband and I don't have vacations due to all the complications and constraints involved with his paralysis which put him in a wheelchair and my own health issues. We do, however, go on day trips with a fully charged chair and some emergency supplies (i.e. bottles of water, wipes, meds and a urinal) in case we get stuck someplace which has happened. We are usually less than 50 miles from home. We recently had a ramp attached to the back of our van to travel with the wheelchair. In February we went to dinner and the Shriner's circus at the fairgrounds. We had a fantastic time and didn't need to use the facilities. It was bitterly cold and snowing that evening and it took me an hour to get the chair on it and strap it down. I hope we can go again next year in nicer weather. It now takes me kess that 10 minutes to strap the chair down.

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