Monday, February 29, 2016

Our Dinner Invitation

This weekend something very unusual happened. Someone actually invited my husband and I home for Sabbath dinner! It was someone whose wife has Alzheimer's. How could I turn it down?

Even though our cook admitted to limited kitchen prowess, he was quite the charming host with his catered pizza and service with a smile. We enjoyed an afternoon of food and fellowship, and it made me feel guilty for depriving Dean of this very real part of our former life.

I can't blame people for not asking us to their home. I have been negligent in inviting people over myself for the last ten years or so. Dean's increased dementia, tight budgets, the added stress--all have contributed to our social isolation.

I determine at the beginning of every year that I am going to make an effort to have someone over for a meal occasionally like the good ol' days, but it just gets harder, the longer I put it off. Surely, opening up our own home to visitors would result in more invitations like the one we just had.

But is this really how it should be? Many of the people Dean would invite home after church were the ones who seldom got invitations. We never worried how it would turn out, whether we'd get invited over to their place in return, what they would think of our humble dwelling, or our simple menu. It was all about caring about others that motivated our hospitality.

And we were never disappointed with our guests and the outcome of our visits. Whether it was our closest friends, a one-time visitor who may have been living on the street, or the pastor's family, everyone was a treat to have in our home.

I am truly resolved now to return to some kind of social life outside simple attendance at church. We must all get back to this very Christian habit of "breaking bread" with each other in our homes. It's personal, it's uniting, and it's fun! Thank you, Clyde, for your thoughtful reminder of one of our very important Christian duties.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Best We Can

We're waiting for the results of Dean's second sleep study. We know in our hearts what the "verdict" will be--they will recommend a C-PAP again. The part I'm sweating about is how we'll ever get him to comply with this extreme adjustment. He has gotten used to wearing one, and I've seen him wear it all night quite often. But as with many of his assistive devices it tends to go through spells of neglect.

The hardest part to admit is that this mirrors my prayer and devotional life. There will be spells of spiritual fervor when I get immersed in the presence of God, but these are interspersed with drought, when I'm lucky to feel even a sprinkling of His blessing.

I must remember this very human phenomenon and know that God mercifully makes allowances for it. I'm sure even the disciples and early church believers experienced ups and downs in their religious practice. That's why God recommended that they fast and take times to separate themselves from the multitudes for fasting, prayer, and spiritual renewal.

I know that wearing a C-PAP for Dean is a very healthy thing for him to do. But just as actively and fervently seeking God is the most "healthy" thing I can do for my soul, God makes allowances for me when my religious zeal is less than robust.

I must not be anxious about Dean, but trust that overall, we are doing the best we can...and that is all God expects of us.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Eternal Respite

A friend and I recently attended a training session for respite providers. I told her later that she was already providing respite for a caregiver by attending the seminar with me, a caregiver.

I'm sure she would be good at providing others respite, or rest, from caregiving too though. She has a friendly, confident, positive attitude that both caregivers and care recipients would love to be around. Just to know Betty is to have respite, in my book. I'm glad she's my friend.

But here's some of the reasons I crave and need respite.

At home...
  1. to enjoy a quiet house (no television noise)
  2. to have more dietary choices (trying to watch his weight and mine isn't easy)
  3. to be able to have an uninterrupted hot shower or phone conversation
Out of the house...
  1. to complete shopping or errands in a leisurely, unhurried fashion (fortunately, I can still leave Dean home alone long enough to accomplish this...most of the time)
  2. to be with friends or groups that allow me to forget I'm a caregiver, at least in the immediate sense (going to our church choir practices or walking at the mall with a friend)
  3. to make me feel like a whole person on my own, with the option of helping other caregivers as I'm able (attending meetings that advocate for caregivers)
I'm so fortunate to have outside care and chore providers for Dean these last few years. He still attends an adult day program three times a week. Plus a bath aide comes to help prevent falls in the shower. And a home health nurse helps monitor his symptoms and manage his medications.

I don't think I could have survived these last sixteen years without the support I've had.

And I don't want to leave out one avenue of support. We all have access to God. His services are free and absolutely essential for handling the daily crises that arise in our very unpredictable lives.

As my favorite verse says, "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." I Peter 5:7 Don't ever feel that, as a caregiver, you aren't cared for too! There is a God who cares for all of us. And His respite will last an eternity.