Being a Tri-Fecta of Caregiving

cartoon_christmas_card_01_vector_181412     You are most likely asking yourself what in the world is, “The Tri-Fecta of Caregiving?”  Well, easily put the Ti-Fecta is when someone is (1) a Caregiver, (2) a Co-Caregiver and (3) a Caree and yes in this day and age it is very possible is be all three of the above and I am just that.  What I am hoping to do here is explain what it is like to be each of these three people, their ups and downs, their trials and tribulations, if they have them and of course these will be different for each and every person and the situation they are in the person(s) they are or are caring for.  Please sit back, open your mind and thoughts to what I am about to say and I hope that after reading this you will have a different view of your caregiver, co-caregiver or caree which ever he or she maybe.

The Caregiver definition I found at several internet sites basically define a caregiver as an unpaid relative or friend of a disabled individual who helps that individual with his/her activities of daily living.  The issue I have with this very limited definition is that, we are so much more, we are our caree’s friend, loved one, taxi driver, legal aid, file clerk, delivery person, aid, nurse, supporter, psychologist, physical therapist, note taker, maintenance person, laundry aid, house keeper, and so much more and of course all of these depends on the capabilities of your caree.  In the past four years I have had weeks were mom had 9 appointments in a week for physical and speech therapy, neurology, primary care physician, lab work and various test.  With this much going on you usually run across meal times so your also spending those with them also and during these you get to talk and find out more about your caree then you thought you already knew.  Our days ran any where from 4-5 hours to (at times) 6am – 6pm with maybe 2 hour of that free for meals, the rest was in the car driving, waiting rooms, or doctors offices.  This went on for 2-1/2 years.  Since then as mom bounced up/down with her conditions we now normally have 3-4 appointments a month and the majority of those she can take herself, for now.  So as you can see being a caregiver you become more to your caree and they to you than one can ever imagine.  Over the past few years I have learned more stuff about my mom, my family, my childhood that I never knew and probably never would have if she had not had first her stroke and heart attack (same week) and then her heart and lung issues.  Its weird to say it this way and you do hear it from people when they are in this sort of situation, but mom’s life threatening health issues brought us closer than we ever where.  In a recent caregiving.com radio blog with guest Bob talking about his caregiving relationship with his wife, he mentioned that “He is there because he wants to be not because he has to.”  I feel this of all caregivers, this position is a choice not a requirement.

Caregiver or Co-Caregiver

The Co-Caregiver definition I was able to find was, “None.”  But between us adults we can pretty much agree that a Co-Caregiver is one that works with a caregiver as a partner to provide additional aid when necessary to a relative or friend of a disabled individual who helps that individual with his/her activities of daily living.  There is usually one primary caregiver out of the two because someone has to have the lead if the caree is place into a medical emergency, it is best to have this determination made prior to arriving at an emergency room or doctor’s office so the main focus can be on the patient.  In my family, I am my mothers primary caregiver and I would have to say moms sister Susie would be her co-caregiver.  The reason I say this is usually it is one of the two of us who is taking mom to the ER if she needs to be and we are the ones who go with mom to doctors appointments to make sure what is being said is first, understood by mom and second, is relayed to the extended family. All of the duties covered by a caregiver are covered by the co-caregiver when not available.  If I were to make a list of the top duties that fall on a Caregiver and Co-Caregiver;

1) Listen     2) Be Informed     3) Be On Time     4) Be Supportive

    5) Ask Questions       6. Don’t Take It Personal       7) Take Notes

8) Understand   9) Don’t Take It Personal   10) Treat with Respect

Caree’s definition does not even exist in any of the four dictionary’s I researched or on the internet, so here is what I would define a caree as (and this is coming from one).  A caree is someone who for whatever reason is in need of assistance which varies from caree to caree.  Caree’s can range from needing minor (1%) assistance to those that are bed ridden and require full (100%) supervision.  Which category 1-10 (1 minor assistance to 10 full assistance) does you or your caree fit into?  My mom is near a category 4, where I am more near a 2, currently I am more my caregiver with Trish being my co-caregiver, I know she monitors me a lot without being asked and questions me when she feels the need and usually she is right.  A caree needs to trust that their caregivers are doing what is in their best interest.  They need to understand their pain and by this I mean if they were to keep a journal of their days, which should include their highs/lows, good/bad times, time woke up and time went to sleep, activities done or attended with amount of time spent on each, you will find that they had a period of extreme over exertion, mine was between 4-6pm my body is done at that point or at least needs a refresher which could be a nap, meditation, closed in a bedroom, 20-30 minutes alone whatever does it for the caree.  You will also notice periods were more medication may be needed, I stopped taking a pain pill at noon and moved that to 2pm because that is when the mid-day pain hit.  You can learn a lot about a journal, try one.  Here are what I would would have to say are the top duties of a Caree;

1. All the Above, plus     2) Take It Easy     3) Routine

4) Exercise      5) Understand Your Pain

 

Being a Tri-Fecta Caregiver it gives me a unique look at all three sides and with that I am able to see and accept that when in caregiver mode, I know what, and I’ll use Robert as my caree (since he is) what he is going through with his emotions, pain, etc. and what I can better do to work with him.  As well as when I am in the caree mode or even just in extreme pain, I know what Trish and those around are going through and what I can do better in both these situations to help them with their care of me.  I would say most carees are going through pain of some sort and I will give you a hint, so is the caregiver, they are going through pain by just watching their loved one going through their issues and knowing there is little to nothing they can do.  The pain is a shared one among family members, just maybe not as painful to some as to others.  Finally, remember that with the caree being where they are and the pain their in what they say or do is most likely not personal, there were times I could not control or didn’t even know I was being such a pain in everyone’s rear and there were probably times I didn’t care because of the pain and that was before I found the doctors that suggested the internal medicine pump.  Now I look back and realize what an ass I was and how it has affected my relationships with my kids and family.  If things just don’t seem right with your caree or you the caree talk with your doctor, explain what is going on and be afraid to ask for a change in medicine, medical test, anything that can help you or your caree, you are a team and need to trust each other, that is requirement number #1.

December 15, 2013

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