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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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AARP Expert

@maryo569401 You are so lucky to have him! You sound like an incredible team, taking an amazing journey together. I hope you and he both find a lot of support here in the AARP Online Community and in our Family Caregiving Site.

 

Best of luck to you both! 

 

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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My mother won't leave the house, although she could. I am home-bound with her and it wears on me. I treasure the small breaks I get, when I can find 2-3 hours to get out of the house to do something I enjoy.

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My daughters and husband went to see their grandma for a few hours. Grandma wasn't in the mood to do anything but dictate of what needed to be repair or replace around the house. My daughters begin to play cards ask grandma to join in but she insisted of not playing. The girls didn't take no as an answer and persuade her. They played  a few games  and she loved it. Laugher and giggles were in the air. 

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Hi, 

My mom has severe mobility issues and dementia.  It is difficult not only to get her out and about for a break, but for her to be out.  We have found the best places to take her for a vacation are places familiar to her from her childhood or places we lived or vacationed when we were kids.  Sometimes her memories are scrambled up, but she almost always has a good memory. So even if the details aren't quite right, what matters is it's a good momory for her in that moment.

 

Good luck to all of you in the challenging journey forward.

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Contributor

Caregiving for my mother is a privilege; she is a beautiful and bright 80 year old who always has a friendly smile and hello for everyone. Although she has some physical issues and has trouble getting around, she rarely complains. 

It was wonderful to take her on a short vacation to Lake Geneva area. It was important to call ahead to the hotel to make sure that we got a room with handicapped accessible bathroom and room area. We also called ahead for the Lake Geneva cruise tour to make sure that they had accomodation as well. Both hotel and cruise tour were very helpful and made sure to make my mother feel welcome and even pampered. 

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Newbie

hi

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Newbie

It's hard to do it sometimes. But if you really want to be the very best, like no one ever was, to catch them is your real test. To care for them is your cause.

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Newbie

I remember we planned for a much needed vacation while school is out for summer but the thing is we also take care of my two old in their 90's in laws. They said go ahead and they can survive without us for few days but of course we cant let them stay on their own so we research places we can go that allows wheelchair and something that everybody will enjoy. The kids absolutely enjoy having them around because of all the stories and experiences they shared to us in long hours of driving. 

 

Based on that experience we always think of taking them every where we go whether its short or long drive because we found out they like to get out of the house and they can still do it as long as there's way for wheelchair to go and they will be comfortable throughout the trip.

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I do my best caretaking for my husband.

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Newbie

Thank-you for sharing all these wonderful stories!

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Contributor

I love summer and vacations.

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Contributor

I would call this story "Buried Treasures."

 

Last summer I was caregiver to a friend's mother--a woman over 100 who stood about four-foot-nothin'. She still possessed some of her life stories yet told the same ones every day, until....

 

There was an oppressive heat wave one week. Glenda, weighing perhaps 80 pounds soaking wet, of course thought this heat was a marvelous thing, even in long pants and shirts with long sleeves. Meanwhile...I melted...my energy zapped. Needing AIR, I asked how she felt about going for a ride. Oh, she was on it! She grabbed her little wrist purse and started for the door.

 

"Where are we going?" she asked. (This was after I pulled out my medical step stool for her to use to get in my Jeep, which she pushed aside, stating she didn't need it...which she didn't. I did, though. Sigh.)

 

"On an adventure," I told her, not even having a clue if I would turn left or right out of the driveway. More so, I didn't know the town or surrounding towns at all. Thelma and Louise--step aside. Glenda and I would be their 2.0 version, geriatric-style. Buckle up, baby. The road is ours.

 

Day One: We ended up at an old barn that had been turned into one of those trash or treasure places. As Glenda walked around, certain old things--items she hadn't seen in years--sparked a memory here and there. Glenda was finding new stories to tell!

 

(And while I was concerned she'd trip on something in the over-stuffed barn, I was the one who did, knocking over a display. "Are you all right, dear? You have to watch your step.")

 

Day Two: When I showed up, assuming we were going out again, she had a shirt all picked out. Again, she hoisted herself up in my Jeep in a way that made me both envious and giggle-y. This time we ended up eating ice cream cones on the shore of a lake. Once again, the change in environment fueled her brain. She found more stories she'd forgotten...fishing with her father and brother; her brother, a bit on the naughty side, tipping the boat over; her mother watching from the shore, waiting with a picnic basket. She got a little teary, but I think she felt more joy than sadness over unearthing the buried memory of that day over 90 years ago.

 

Day Three: We went to a small park where we would stroll, sit, stroll, sit. This time, watching a woman walk her dog, she talked about a yellow dog named Toby she had as a little girl. Toby had been quite the comedian, and made her laugh as she recounted his antics.

 

(On one of the strolls, she also talked about her age and death, telling me she didn't know why she had to live "so god-awful long." She stopped and looked me square in the eye and said, "Can you tell me why?" And let me tell you...it was not meant as a rhetorical question!)

 

Day Four: Glenda asked if it was okay if we didn't have any "adventures" today. Sure....but within the confines of those walls, her memories were confined to the same stories she had before we ventured out to play. And she continued to tell each one as if it were the first time--and that's okay, because we can't miss something we never knew (or can't remember), but we both had three days of the (warm) breeze in our hair while she dug up some buried treasures in her mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My name is Andrea Barrett. I am a retired Columbus Police Officer and retired Transportation Safety Supervisor for Columbus City Schools. I have 2 sons, one of which has 2 autistic children aged 5 and 10. The 10 year old has Sturge-Webber Syndrome as well as other maladies. The 5 year old was a premature birth with some things underdeveloped. Both are the love of my life. Taking care of the children goes "above and beyond" for autistic children and double that with 2 children. My son and daughter-in-law do it without apologies or regrets. Because of their love, devotion, and true care for their children, I take it upon myself to give them a "respite weekend" once a month, so they can regroup, refresh, renew, and regenerate. Every caregiver deserves a "respite". It is a small sacrifice for the wonderful work they do with and for their children.

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Caregiving is not an easy job, but it is rewarding in the sense that you know that your loved one is properly being taken care of.  We have been blessed to have my 87 year old mother in our care for the past seven years.  Mom had several strokes two years ago and currently has two clogged arteries in her brain that are inoperable. When mom had the strokes, they sent her to a nursing care facility for three months, where she sat in wet diapers for hours, amongst other things that were not acceptable to us.  The facilities comments to my complaints were that they were understaffed, and this may have been true, but was not acceptable that mom was not properly cared for.  This is when we decided that we would never send her to any facility for caregiving, as long as we were capable of taking care of her.  It is crucial that caretakers find ways, to make time for some relaxation, enjoyment and stress relief.  Because of moms inoperable clogged arteries in her brain, she is unable to travel by airplane, so we had to work around that issue.  We decided to take mom on a cruise, this would eliminate me having to make decisions on what to cook, shopping for the meals and cooking them, cleaning the house,  changing bed sheets and doing laundry for at least ten days.  Yes, I still had to change moms diapers, dress her daily and feed her at meal time but what a blessing to eliminate all the other routine chores.  This decision proved to be a good choice for us and mom,  great food, wonderful accommodations and planned entertainment.   Even though we weren't able to take any shore excursions, we were blessed to relax and enjoy beautiful sunsets and sunrises.  We even pushed mom in her wheelchair around the outdoor track so we could get fresh air, exercise and enjoy the calming effects of the ocean waters together.  We 87also received and added blessing from so many strangers, they would talk to mom and us,  several would touch her (touch is so important) and say what a blessing she was with her beautiful smile, which made her smile even more.  When it was time to leave the cruise ship mom said, "can't you sell the house and we just live on this ship," refreshment and renewal was had by all!   

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.

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I absolutely love to travel more than anything I can think of.  I travel all over the world.  I plan at least one big trip every year and would do more, if I could.  On average, I do very little in the way of entertainment and extra curricular activites, so traveling is that shot in the arm for me.  I look forward to it every year.  I'm so geeked that mostly everyone (friends and family) are geeked too.  They all want to know what's the trip this year?  Where are you going and how long?  And they all wait for the travel book that I put together for every trip.  Then the book gets to travel from house to house; to co-workers and people I don't even know on the train.  I'll travel in groups or alone.  It doesn't really matter.  I'm just that travel extrovert, so I can go either way.  In recent years, my trips are getting longer and further away, so I don't get many takers because they can either be gone that long or don't have that kind of money to spend on vacation.  You know the story!

 

Two years ago, I became a full blown caregiver for my mom who will be 80 next week.  She got sick, and I had to cancel my vacation right at the brink of departure.  Thank goodness, I insure every trip, so I did wind up getting all my money back.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that this would be the beginning of the end.  It seems like my "traveling well" has dried up.  I have one older sibling, and most of the time she just lets me carry the entire ball.  No sense to her in splitting or sharing the care.  She seems to do as little as possible.  Whatever is going on, her famous line is "keep me posted."  I said if I outlived her, I certainly would put that famous quote on her tombstone!

 

Long story short, I almost can't go any of the places I really desire because it requires that I be gone longer than I can comfortably stay away with my mom.  I truly love her and want her to have the best of care, but it seems like my life is over!  This is the only thing that I do that makes my joy complete and now it has come to an end.  I just started knocking off the continents on my bucket list.  In 2015, I started my "A's."  I was in Australia and New Zealand a few days short of a month.  I wanted to knock off Asia so bad this year, but it seems like it won't happen.  I feel I need at least 14 days minimally, or it doesn't even make sense for me to pack for less than that.  I'm not sure what happens going forward, but it seems as though I have nobody that I or my mom can trust to let me go.  I try hard to fight depression over this.  Here it is August and the "back to school" announcements are starting.  Then it's fall (if we get one).  I live in the Chicago area, so some times we're thrown full throttle into winter.

 

I don't know what my answer is.  Maybe some of you in the caregiving community have some advice you can give me.  Although I could add a lot more, that's basically my story.  I know others of you are out there experiencing the same or similar things.  Let's help each other!

 

Thanks for listening!

Mz. Dee

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Newbie

great i love the journey

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For 6 years we're didn't go anywhere.   My husband didn't want to do anything.  They had his meds messed up big time. We call them the forgotten years. Traveling was hard. Just recently we've been able to go out to more places. We haven't traveled far but we've gone to a few local places. I'm glad he's able to do more this year. Those other years were rough. 

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Newbie

great

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I had been taking care of my parents over the last 4 years. My mom passed in October of 2016, and daddy passed May of this year. Dad and I could not go anywhere with mom, because she was in the final stages of Dementia. 

This passed year was pretty good with daddy, because he could still get around a little. Our favorite trip was a simple one back to our hometown.  He had the best time telling me where everyone lived, worked and even goofed off. Dad was 86 when  he passed,  but his mind was very sharpe. He pointed out where different places "use" to be when he grew up.  Take your loved ones back to their hometown if anyway possible.  You'll live their life with them.

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I would just love to win this contest. I am an unpaid caregiver for my dad who is technically my grandpa but he adopted me and raised me as his own. He has dementia and he was first diagnosed with it when I was 22 and now I'm 29 and have been taking care of him ever since. He has gotten worse every year and needs more care every year. I don't go over night anywhere, it's been years since the last three years have been the worse. He is not the nicest person and I would just love a break. Me and my boyfriend of ten years have been wanting to go just anywhere for a long time but No one in my family cant help take care of him while I'm gone especially with showering and changing diapers I think they feel weird about doing those things and I don't want to bother them by asking anyways. So I would love this very much, I have been having panic attacks, anxiety  and depression lately and I think it's because of being home too much. I don't think it is healthy. So I would appreciate this so so much. I think all of us caregivers could definitely use a vacation though!  

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Regular Contributor

Bringing a talkative friend along really helps!

As does packing familiar snacks and stuffed animals, CDs of favorite music, DVDs,
an instant photo camera, a sturdy new picture album, scissors, post-its, stickers, etc., for
creating a photo journey starting with a map showing departure home and projected
arrival locations...
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For many, being a caregiver is a selfless act. Through it all, however, try not to forget or lose your “self” because of the need to assist others.
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When my mom was feeling up to it and we had a "good" day I would take a day off work and just go for a ride so she could get some fresh air & sunshine. She would tell me to close the window and I would laugh and say "enjoy the fresh air." Then we would stop and get a cup of coffee & muffin and sit by the nearby lake for a couple of hours and talk and she so enjoyed the sailboats. I know it isn't a vacation, but we both got to relax even just for those few hours.   Carol 

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Towards the bitter end, with literally only days, if not hours, to live, the one wish was for him to go fishing. Well, his wish was our cammand and not less than 4 guys came around and we wheeled him down to a dock which the owners graciously approved and encouraged us to use. It was an epic event and put a smile into his face holding that little himemade fishing rod with a small hook on it and a small dug up worm squirming. No, he did not get lucky as far as a fish goes, but was exhilarated to have been able to accomplish his one last wish. Sadly he passed away 1 day later in the middle of the night surrounded by his loved ones.

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Newbie

This has been a blessing to be a part of. I love being a part of this all.

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I strive to give my dad the dignity he deserves as well as the freedom he needs. We often do road trips and talk about how things used to be. A treasure for me; a mental vacation for him. Sadly, with health issues, he cannot travel far from home. 

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Love the summer get to spend time with love ones nothing like summer time
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Newbie

going to see my grandson. i think. 

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Periodic Contributor

My mom's bucket list trip first took shape as a love letter from my Dad.  He had planned many trips for them over the 65 years they were together so he listened to her wishes and plans and he researched and built a 9 page, highly detailed (with excerpts cut and taped from appropriate AAA guides) itinerary of where to go, where to eat, where to stop and where to stay as they traveled from Florida to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, so close to where she had been born but had never seen.  When he sent the original copy of his plan to me I was overwhelmed - still working full time, disabled husband at home, demanding job.  I wasn't sure what he wanted ME to do with it.  But he knew his hard work would would be safe with me until the plan could fully take shape.  How glad I am now that he shared his work with me because he died unexpectedly just a few months later.  As we dealt with the sorrow and the details of his passing the plan was buried away.  For three long years my mother would not travel or plan or even discuss "her" trip. 

 

Finally, this spring, she agreed to think about "the trip".  I was newly retired and finally up to the challenge of driving the 10 state road trip that would take us to Mount Rushmore.  We poured over an old fashioned Rand McNally road atlas, using my father's notes and plans as the backbone for what we shaped into a two week trip.  We gassed up the car and took off - Mom, my sister, my husband and me.  We visited all of her immediate family, cruised by literally every home where she had ever lived, unearthed memories of her 8 year old self in the Ozark mountains where her father had helped to build Ft. Leonard Wood, ate far too much at wonderful restaurants, laughed a lot, cried a little and and filled her bucket to the brim with memories and love.  We stood in awe at the base of Mount Rushmore, drove through the town where she was born, crossed and recrossed the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and rang every last drop of memory out of her 86 year life in the Midwest  We hugged people I didn't even know we were related to and hugged each other a lot too.  Finally, after 14 days and 4000 miles (almost exactly) we were back home with many buckets of memories and stories to share. 

 

She called the trip "the trip of a lifetime", pretty high praise from someone who has traveled extensively throughout the US, cruised many times and spent time in Europe.  I know that we all have memories that we will always hold close to our hearts.  The 4000 miles flew by as we reminisced and laughed and planned.  Thanks Dad - You did good!             

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