Five days after my last post, my aunt D passed away. She was a breast cancer survivor, but succumbed to colon cancer. It would be interesting to know if the cancer in her colon was metastatic breast cancer that settled in her colon, or if it was a true colon cancer. I didn't realize that cancer could metastasize that way until a friend was told that the tumor in his liver was lung cancer, not liver cancer.
M, meanwhile, is doing well. Her cancer was staged at 2, and she's waiting for results of yet another test, this one to determine if (statistically) she is, after all, a candidate for some sort of targeted chemotherapy.
I spent the day at an Aging-In-Place seminar. It was interesting and enlightening. Thank you, B, for the invitation and the company. It was a good day on many levels.
At the Aging-in-Place: Choices presentation, I realized that my experiences are common. Families that can form a care-giving community fare better than primary caregivers who have no strong support group behind or alongside them. The very elderly are very resistant to change, and don't really want help. Family caregivers need to change the language they use to make changes more palatable. We need to evaluate our needs carefully -- do we need a companion who had do anything that doesn't involve physically touching the client, someone who can help with bathing and dressing, someone to manage meds, or someone to give injections or provide wound care? Do we need someone in the morning, or someone in the afternoon and evening? Do we need routine assistance on a regular schedule, or do we need respite care? Do we need someone to come to our home, or do we need to move our residence?
The second session we attended looked at the characteristics of normal aging. Interestingly, our spacial perception and ability to judge distances is about the first skill that begins to fade. Explains why, as seniors, we have to take a whole new range of precautions when we drive an automobile. Reading is the last skill to fade. That's nice for those of us who are readers -- as long as we can still see well enough to read! Our bones shrink -- including our jawbones. Our kidney function fades, as do our taste bunds and our ability to feel thirsty. No wonder seniors dehydrate to quickly!
The session titled "Tips for Caregivers" was really a sales pitch for a privately operated social services agency. The useful piece that they did offer was a test to measure your stress level as a caregiver. My own stress level? Real. Moderate. Far from no stress, but not yet approaching burnout. Again, it was clear that my stressors are far from unusual, and that I have friends who have greater problems than do I.
Meanwhile, I'm watching the continuing MSN broadcasts on Hurricane Irene. Prayers are winging toward my friends along the eastern seaboard. I know it is unlikely they will be spending time on the computer reading this entry or emails and letting the rest of us know how they are doing, but some time in the next few days they will learn that I was/am concerned for their welfare.
Give thanks for all the caregivers in your neighborhood, in the US and in the world.
Pray for all those impacted by Hurricane Irene.
Don't forget to pray for your own needs.