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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
I am the caregiver for my mother and husband both. I get so overwhelmed at times, but then I know most of us do. My mother was in an assisted living facility, but it is not close to home (a couple hours away). I am an only child so it was up to me to make sure she was taken care of as well as spending time with her. I would make the trip multiple times a week to see her. But now with my husband being ill, I moved her in with me so I can spend the time with her that we both need. I am going to try to take them to Branson as it is a place with all used to enjoy. Our daughter has agreed to meet us so I will have help taking them to shows that would make them feel alive again.
Visiting relatives in Matamoros, Mexico (we're a Hispanic family) in May (pretty sure that's summer) is a typical yearly outing for my family. Our mother is getting in her ripe years, but goodness at least she isn't in a wheelchair yet.
It's a only a four hour drive from where we live but we have to make sure she doesn't get too hot from the weather and water her like a sunflower xD
Love her very much!! The look on her face and the sound the family makes when we all arrive will be worth it every year ♥
My Grandmother was my only living relative. I was nine years old when she came to the orphanage where I had been placed after my Mom died. She looked frail. I was told she was recovering from a stroke. When I found out she wasn't taking me home with her, I was upset. "Expecting life to treat you fair, is like expecting a bull not to charge, because your a vegetarian.." she had said. "I'm a vegetarian, cause I hate plants!" I snapped back.
Years later, my Grandmother contacted me. She was recovering from her second stroke. I was financially struggling as a single Mom. She needed a caregiver, and I needed to be cared about, so my son and I went to live with her. My Grandmother, known for wit loves playing word games. Word games frustrate me. "Horticulture," I said hoping this would be a word to end the game. "You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think... " she said with a smile.
2015 was a horrible year for me. A drunk driver killed my child. Two months later, while visiting a friend, I was a victim of a home invasion. I was beaten up, put in a coma for a month. My Grandmother was at my bedside when I awoke from the coma. Depression and anxiety now filled my everyday life. There wasn't a day or night that I didn't cry. My Grandmother gave me two months before she snapped, "Don't walk around with a T-shirt that says, I give up, on the front and, I never started trying on the back! People bring you down, situations happen, YOU feel like life is the **bleep**tiest thing to deal with. BLAH BLAH BLAH.. If you're walking through Hell, keep going! Everyday face it, deal with it, move on! To every problem, there is a solution. Time for a new game! It's called take over the world! WHOOOP WHOOOP!!"
She booked our first vacation. Grizzly Bear Watching in Alaska. Our Alaskan adventure also included zip-lining through an Alaska forest, and suspended bridge trekking. On our way home she said, "Have you ever noticed, ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision?"
I was terrified, staring at my Grandmother. Was she affiliated with the antichrist? Why is she so calm? Three planes, miles through the Norwegian ocean, surrounded by imposing glaciers, and at this moment we are being readied to be loweredinto the icy water to swim with orcas and humpback whales...! "We are so lucky" she had said. I only felt terror, not lucky. I tuned in to what she was saying to an environmentalist, with whom she'd entered into debate, "Earth has been through a lot worse than us! Earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, comets, asteroids, meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, poles, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages, nuclear radiation, bombs. Plastic bags and aluminum cans will not cause Earth's destruction. Earth and plastic will be here for a long, long, time. " Then she glanced over at me. "Don't be pushed around by the fears in your mind dear, be led by the dreams in your heart" she said. As we were being lowered into the water, the enviromentalist got on one knee in front of my Grandmother, "Darlin, can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?" We swam alongside the immense killer whales and humpbacks. No one got hurt, and none of my imagined fears came true. We spent the evening watching the breathtaking dancing aurora borealis.
Grandmother was reading a book from the National Institute of Health. "The Benefits Of Fear - When we are fearful, we imagine all sorts of outcomes and scenarios. Sometimes the fear can be so intense, it can cause inaction. Fear heightens your senses, awareness, focus, concentration, helps to quickly identify choices to evaluate the best course of action." This information led to our next fear-based vacation, at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. This gateway to the Rockie Mountains hotel, was Stephen King’s real-life inspiration for the movie, 'The Shining.' We clung to each other as we walked slowly through a creepy underground tunnel beneath the hotel. We nervously had drinks and watched a piano occasionally play itself in the hotel's bar.
In the car, as we headed home, she
pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket, and began reading it to me. "People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway. Anything you want, that is good, you can have it, hard work works. Working really hard is what successful people do. When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up. Each one, teach one.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to fail. When you fail, fail forward. Reggie Jackson had the most strike-outs in the history of baseball. Twenty-six hundred strike-outs, but people only remember his home runs. Accept that you will fail, you will lose, you'll embarrass yourself, you will suck at something. It’s inevitable. Life should not be a journey into the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body. Better to skid in, broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow! What a Ride!”
I no longer needed to hear my Grandmother say, 'Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.' The words that have the power to change people's lives for the better, words which heal wounded hearts no matter how in ruines the relationship is. The right words matter, like the difference between a lightning bug, and lightning. The saddest tears over a grave, are for words left unsaid. Say them now. Use them freely. Resolve the unresolved. Do not wait for the last second, or it could pass you by.
I am the caregiver of my mother, who has a myriad of problems and is currently addicted to pain killers because of them. I have been trying to get her to address her problems for years but she seems much happier popping a pill every 4 hours and zoning out. We finally convinced her to make an appointment with senior services to get grief councling so I am excited to see if that will pain into anything.
took my mother to visit her grandchildren, thats when we discovered that she cant sit for very long without her legs cramping up so we had to change our plans and stop every half hour for her to walk around. slowed the trip but gave us a lot of time to reminisce.
I take care of my 83 mother. Since my dad was killed in an auto accident 18 years ago she moved in a trailer in our yard.Or I should say we moved her in our yard. She was so spoiled she coldn't change a lightbulb. She can't cook, clean, not anything. I am a 6 year cancer survivor and my husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma 3 years ago. I also have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndorme. I tried to take my mother to the beach last year and this year and my 3 children and their families came so we could all be together. It was a total disaster both years. She complained both years about everything and we were all miserable. My kids and families ended up leaving early and she said she was glad they left. I cried the rest of the time and told the kids I would get somebody to sit with her next year and we come by ourselves. I need the break anyway. She is such a difficult woman. Nothing I do is ever right. I get cussed out every time I turn around. I have a sister that lives 15 miles away that neverdoes anything but she is going to have to start. I need a break. I wish I had some of the happy stories some of you had. It would surely make life easier.
@carlund1 Thank you for sharing your story and for reminding us that it doesn't always work out. I'm so sorry to hear of all your stress. I'm glad to hear that you are reaching out and getting more help. Having a heart to heart with your sister will hopefully get her more involved. I know it's so easy to be angry at siblings who aren't helping, but I've learned that coming at it with love vs. anger tends to yield better results. 🙂
This article written by my colleague Dr. Barry Jacobs might have some helpful tips for you! When Caregivers Dislike 'Loved Ones' They Are Caring For
Hope your next vacation/respite trip is wonderful, refreshing and fills your tank!
Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert
Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and
I hope this is the correct area to enter into the contest! Just wanted to encourage those who are out there caring for their parents and/or loved ones.
My mom was a Type 1 diabetic and that posed some issues with taking road trips and vacations. When you have to eat on a schedule, it can be hard to go sightseeing as your regular meal times may not synch up in another time zone. Thankfully, more places are becoming more aware of the need for rest and food - and I have found that calling ahead works wonders!
In an effort to take a “mental break” from the constant bombardment of the same questions that were posed by my Aunt (continuously...God bless her) I wrote “her story” in a small booklet. Whenever, I needed a break, I would give her the booklet so she could read her story (with amazement and delight) that answered all of her routinely asked questions. My favorite part was when she would read that she was 90 years old. Each time (just like most of the women I know), she would deny that truth... “90 years old...that can’t be true” she would exclaim emphatically...I would laugh each and every time! Affording Auntie the opportunity to read her “book” both calmed and entertained her, giving me or other caregivers the mental break that was so needed from time to time. RIP, Auntie Ida!!
@HeatherM512269 This is SO wonderful! I can just see her saying “that can’t be true!” I never took the time to write it out for Daddy (wish I had) but I used to tell him his life story and he’d listen and it always calmed him and he loved it. I would sing songs to go with the parts of his life - he had taught us all of them... his Elementary school song, high school song, college songs, fraternity songs, World War II songs, musicals he had acted in etc. it was a wonderful way to pass the time and very interactive and fun.
There are more good ideas in AARP‘s new Memory Activity for those with Dementia book! https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/books/bookstore/health-food-cooking/info-2018/memory-activity-boo...
Amy Goyer, AARP’s Family & Caregiving Expert
Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and Color Your Way Content When Caring for Loved Ones
My family member that I care for can not be too far from home or the hospital so our summer break is usually going to the beach. We can sit and watch the water and if he is feeling up to it we can take a short walk. The fresh air is needed to stay healthy and being outside with other people even if you are not interacting with them lets you know the world is still turning and we are all living life.
My Mama is 90 and is a rockstar, I function as a caregiver when she needs me and a companion when she needs that and a coordinator when she needs me to figure out who can fix what. However, my primary role in this amazing woman's life is her next door neighbour. . With bridge groups 3 times a week, her volunteer schedule, and social calendar she runs circles around me. If you met her you'd never guess she had just celebrated her 90th birthday (with 119 of her closest friends at a truly elegant seated lunch with wine cocktails and 3 other generations) My only wish...that i can be just like her when I grow up.
I have been a care giver to both of my parents since I graduated from high school. Before then I helped care for my grandmother. I have learned that 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 and with people who love them and that they love. When traveling things can become difficult when you are a caregiver responsible for someone else. It becomes not about enjoying yourselves, but also about making sure that things are in place to accommodate your needs as well as the needs of the people you are caring for. Weather it is for kids or adults you are responsible for their needs as well as your own. Everything has to be in order so that your travels can go as smooth as possible. You need to have your route to the destination planed out so that you know where the bathrooms, gas stations, food places, and emergency care facilities are just in case of an emergency. You have to find accommodation that meets the need of everyone you are traveling with so that everyone is comfortable and can enjoy themselves. You have to rush to get things done and make sure everything is taking care of appropriately so that you can enjoy a small part of the vacation while making sure that all of the people you are a caregiver to is taken care of in all aspects of their day. You need to do things that both you and your family enjoy so that everyone can enjoy the vacation. Yes, vacations and traveling can be a hassle when you are a caregiver to the elderly, disabled, and children but with the proper planning and a little luck vacations and travel can be a fun way to spend time with your loved ones.
Live life to the fullest! I used to think about why I couldn't do things and so I didn't. But recently after almost 20 yrs of caregiving for 2 disabled people (my son & father) I now figure out how I can. Accept it won't be what others get to do on vacation but just go! My secret is go to a familiar place so you know what is available ahead of time, carry a transfer chair (lighter wheelchair) every where you go. I have preplanned the trips even to the point of all family members (even the young ones) or anyone else that comes along to help so everyone enjoys the trip. We work as a team. I was assigned to my son and my 14 year old was assigned to my 80 yr. old father when we took our whirlwind trip to the beach. We choose the one thing most important to do instead of trying to do it all. I drove us 5 hrs to the beach stayed one night and drove home but we still talk about our fun adventure!! We met our goal - feeling the ocean breeze and getting to stick our big toe in the ocean! Life is short, don't expect perfect, plan ahead, be patient with each other, take a photo and laugh together often. And the best part...you get to smile every day reliving and talking about those memories forever!!