One of the things I am keen to develop is a team approach to Maureen’s care. I’m trying to work very closely with Chloe, and Gail, our regular carers. In the last week we have drafted some guidelines for occasions when one of their colleagues have to step in. New faces at our door need some ‘handy-hints’ if their sits are to be effective: scanning a Support Plan as soon as they enter the house is not the best introduction to Maureen.
Myself, Chloe, and Gail, are the only people who see Maureen in action: we see beyond the confabulations that others receive. We see Maureen’s increased level of confusion: making a cup of tea, and then forgetting it is brewing, so making another. We experience the difficulty in getting her to shower or take exercise.
I managed to chat to Chloe yesterday about Maureen’s reluctance to go to bed, and wanting to get up very early in the morning. Both of us are familiar with Maureen lacking any concept of time: when it is dark she no longer has any idea if it is early morning or evening. Whenever she wakes up from ‘resting her eyes’ she thinks it’s morning, and is expecting breakfast. Chloe is aware of the shortcomings of a sleep deprived Care Partner. I am concerned that carer burn-out will lead to an inability to look after Maureen. We both agreed that something needed to be done to try to regulate Maureen’s sleep pattern so I can get more rest.
Following my discussions with Chloe I made a few changes in yesterday’s routine. Firstly, I went out for a couple of hours in the morning. I made the Leisure Centre for an hour, and had a relaxing time in the Spa, and Sauna. This gave me some time to think on how to change one or two things at home. On my return I noticed that Chloe had managed a ‘Pamper Day’ and Maureen looked spick and span. She told me later that she had told ‘love lies’ about not being here next week, to get Maureen into the shower. After Chloe had gone I set about changing our routines.
I deliberately served meals later, and encouraged ‘eye resting’ at different times. The evening meal was served later; ensuring that Maureen was awake beyond 8 pm. I parked myself beside Maureen on the sofa to prevent her from lying down. None of this went down well and my disgruntled wife picked at her food pouring scorn on the efforts of the chef: lots of it remained on her plate. As always it was a battle to persuade her that she needed to take her blood thinner but I persevered. Around 9.30 Maureen took herself to bed declaring she wanted to sleep alone. I gave her ten minutes and joined her upstairs to support her bedtime rituals.
At almost 11pm I slipped into bed beside her, and wished her goodnight. We slept relatively soundly together, and I got up 7 hours later to make early morning tea. As I post this blog Maureen is still in the land of nod. Her tea has gone cold: I will drink it later or use it as plant food.
More of the same today me thinks. The one adage in being a Care Partner that always holds: if something doesn’t work try something else. When I think of it that comes from Eric Berne’s ideas on transaction analysis’.