Caregivers: Stuck on Repeat
Caregiving can sometimes be monotonous. Like you fell into a Punxsutawney, Groundhog Day sort of monotonous. Fixing coffee, oatmeal, and bacon for what feels like the four thousandth day in a row, counting out pills that never seem to end, tying a shoe for the millionth time, or answering the same questions every single day of your life can be maddening.
Every day feels the same
My granddad took care of my grandmother for many of her last years. When I was in high school, I went over on Saturdays to spend the day and help with what housework they would allow me to do. One Saturday seemed to blend into the next.
Saturday lunches weren’t time-consuming or extravagant. We’d pop chicken pot pies or the like into the oven. We’d have the same tired little salads of just lettuce and thousand island dressing. We would finish off the meal with peaches over angel food cake. I’d dust and vacuum and watch tv while they napped. I was generally only around for Saturdays, but I’m betting most days were the same for them from day to day and from week to week. Wash, rinse, repeat. However, my saint of a grandfather was generally cheerful and took everything in stride. He even seemed content with the everyday monotony, but he wasn’t blind to it. I do remember him saying with a chuckle, “If it’s not one thing, it’s the same thing.”
My own monotonous routine
I was thrown into my own monotonous routine many years later while caring for my dad. Granddaddy was long gone by then, and Daddy, who had always been his own “Mr. Fix-it” was now the one who needed help. It was my turn to “make the donuts.”
I got up early to make sure Daddy was up and fed and medicated before I went to the daily grindstone. When I got home, I paid the bills. I counted the pills. I made the appointments and argued with the state over insurance problems. I’d feed us supper, go to bed tired, and wake up tired just to do it all again.
You may not appreciate being stuck in what feels like an endless spin cycle. I know I didn’t. I was less content to be stuck on spin than Granddaddy was. You may feel and even look like an exhausted Bill Murray waking up to the Sonny and Cher daily serenade for another mind-numbingly carbon copy of a day.
I guarantee you this, though. You’ll miss it. You’ll miss him laughing at the same old stories and jokes. You’ll miss the incessant whistling. You may not miss the dishes, but you will miss the smell of his coffee. You’ll miss the sleepy, crinkled eyes smiling at you every morning or the joy in his face when presented with a sugary sweet that he should have never had. You’ll miss every mundane detail.
I'll miss the same old things
So, even if the person you’re caring for seems like they are in a scene stuck on repeat, hang in there. Even if you can mouth their words as they say them, or predict every movement, play the part and pretend like everything is bright, shiny, and new. It may be new to them. Granddaddy was right. If it’s not one thing, it is, indeed, the same thing. You will miss those same old things.
So for today, and tomorrow, and the next day, be grateful for the mundane. Take comfort in the routine. Relish the monotony.
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