A Day Off from the Responsibilities of a Caregiver

Sometimes it seems that I shouldn’t feel so busy and pressured caring for dad.  In fact, he lives in an assisted living facility so I don’t have to watch over him 24 hours a day.  I visit him 4 days a week now, down from the 6-7 days I was visiting before.

Even though he doesn’t live with me, I feel like most of my energy goes into watching over his care.  In addition to actual visits, I oversee all his financial responsibilities (bill paying and planning for caregivers), make sure he has his medications available, make sure he has sufficient clothing for the season, etc.

I made dad’s medical appointments for his ophthalmologist, his urologist, and other specialists and accompany him.  I respond to errors in health insurance reimbursements, regular bills like cable and television, etc.  I purchase all of his over the counter medications and bring them to his ALF rather than have him pay inflated prices for the in-house pharmacy.  And I make arrangements for paid professional companions to visit him when I must be away.

I guess I was looking and feeling so stressed with my day-to-day duties caring for dad that many friends said I needed to cut back and look after myself more.  I made a conscious decision this spring that I would set aside 3 days to specifically NOT visit dad unless there were something that couldn’t wait.

I set aside Mondays to go to a weekly sewing group.  That same day I usually stop at the library and purchase my groceries.  By the time I get home from all that, it is mid-afternoon and I am too tired to do anything else.  Sometimes I sit down and fall asleep!   Fridays there are a group of us who play cards or dominoes at the clubhouse.  I have been doing that for years and continued to do so.  Now however, I don’t try to rush to see dad for an hour first as I used to do.

The only day I leave totally unscheduled is Wednesday.  I try not to schedule any medical appointments for either dad or myself.  I also try not to use that day to pay dad’s bills (which I generally pay when they arrive) or to phone Medco, Blue Cross, the Cable company, the newspaper and others who have all made many billing errors in the past year.)

Sometimes I end up doing something for dad anyway.  Thus a week ago Wednesday was the day I went to visit the small nursing home.  I learned a lot, but lost my “day off”.  I was determined not to do that this week.

I realized that I had to find a new quilt/fabric store.  I had located one two years ago near my daughter’s town.  After I had moved here 3 years ago I needed to find all new stores, libraries and other community services.  But times change – the fabric store I found and liked went out of business.  At first I was too busy to worry about it.

However, this week I realized I needed to get some specific fabric to continue work on a quilt for one of my grandsons.  I have been working on this only 2 hours per week at my sewing group and since I piece by hand, it was a slow process.  Anyway, the first thing I thought of when I finished the main part of the quilt top was: “Oh no!  Now I have to find some border fabric and take the time and energy to cut it out, etc.”

I had become comfortable just sewing along with all the fabric I had cut out before mom died.  I set it aside each winter while I was down south so it lasted until now.  Wednesday I looked up the store on Google and located it on the map.  I printed out the map and determined that I would find it in the town I had not visited before.

It was not that far or that complicated, but since I moved here I tended to stay in the same area and drive the same roads all the time.  I don’t like to venture out to new places when I am stressed and it seems like that has included most of the last 3 years!  So, I drove to this little town that really isn’t that far from my home.  It is just in a direction I hadn’t gone to before.

It was such a small town it had all of about 2 stop lights in addition to the fabric store, the grocery store, the drugstore and a post office.  Still, I was surprised that the little quilt shop was not on a street with other stores.  Rather it was in a sort of warehouse area a few blocks away.  The stores themselves were not on the typical main street either, but were in separate “shopping centers” with huge parking lots and several stores.  I was disappointed because I wanted to park and wander around in a nice little town and see quaint shops.  That wasn’t what I found.  Instead I got my quilt fabric, stopped at the Golden Arches for an early lunch and drove out of town.

From there I decided to drive to the mall that I knew in my own town, not very far from where I was at that time.  At the mall I did some more leisurely shopping and eventually came home.  It was a nice day for me in that I had no place I had to be.  I felt free because I didn’t have to remember to go see dad.

Usually I visit dad for the hour before lunch.  Then I take walk with him to his dining room and say goodbye, reminding him of the next time I will be back.  This time my day was not constrained by having to be anywhere at any specific time.  I was free to go from one destination to the next without caring about the time.

At the end of the day I was satisfied that I had spent the whole day on myself.  I found a new shop in a new town and I was still home by mid-afternoon.  I know I need more days like that, where I don’t feel pressure to do anything in particular.

But in the meantime, I continue my mostly scheduled life, and take time for myself when I can.


About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
This entry was posted in Assisted Living Facility, Caregiving, Elder Care, Eldercare and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Day Off from the Responsibilities of a Caregiver

  1. terry1954 says:

    you sound too much like myself, except my patient is here at home with me, but i do all the things that you say you do. I got my first four hours last week and am looking forward to another four hours next week, to have a whole day to myself is yet a dream…..

    • Every hour counts. Do what you can’t otherwise do that you really want to do. It reminds me of when my first child started kindergarten. I had a few hours a day without my most active child and I tried to make the most of it. I look forward to an uninterrupted day and try to keep it set aside for fun!

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