May 20, 2012


"The research states clearly that we are not able to divide our attention as well as we think we can." Scientific American Mind magazine March/April 2012

Caregiving, especially hands-on caregiving, requires that we multitask continually.  There was never a moment, whether I was with Dwane or not, when part of my thoughts and mental energies were going toward:  was he safe?  were things all right?  I was hyper-alert for danger, and I got way too good at smoothing the way for him.  That is why - in my opinion - he is now, into the second month living at an assisted living facility, experiencing frustration and discontent.  Professionally I have very good skills at creating an environment that prevents problems, and I implemented that in my caregiving.  It certainly was not wrong to do so, but - now that this preventative approach is no longer smoothing the way for him, he is having difficulty reconciling himself to his limitations.  The multitasking and hypervigilance was killing me . . . .literally.  And, while it made Dwane's way smoother for several years, now he has the opportunity to come to grips with life when someone is not doing that for him.  It seems it would be good if there were a handbook to tell us how to proceed once the decision is made that assisted living is necessary.  But, alas, there is not.  Each of us needs to traverse this path on our own.  There is reassurance, however, from our own observations and those of the personnel at the assisted living facility.  I took Dwane out to hear a speaker last night.  With a bit more respite from the 24/7 caregiving, I could see he has more trouble walking now (shuffles more noticeably) and looked more disheveled, without me to be there to help him with grooming.  Both he and I need to know that it is what it is.  We are dealing with a terminal and progressive disease process.  It is necessary that he make his way in this, and that I make mine.  I can no longer smooth the path before him.  That does not mean that I no longer advocate for him; I do.  But, I cannot be there to prevent problems for him.

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