How to accept the help you need

Laundry is the enemy. My Gpa has an ostomy, which reroutes urine into an exterior bag that needs to be maintained and emptied regularly. He has a hernia that the ostomy sits on which means the bag does not adhere to a smooth flat surface. The results of all of this is lots of leakage. Every Saturday I would haul at least 5 loads of laundry to the shared laundry room in his apartment building. It took a lot of time and energy hovering over machines, timing drying sessions, and putting everything away.

I had a moment when I realized I needed help. I sat on my toilet and sobbed one afternoon and then called a caregiving service. Linda started that week.

I do not have any help caregiving with the exception of my husband. Weird family dynamics means I am doing this caregiving job without family support. As my Gpa has gotten older his needs have also increased, but I have not successfully cloned myself. Linda costs $23 per hour, for 4 hours, twice a week. That usually sums up to $736 per month which is a large sum on a fixed income. But even if Gpa’s income couldn’t cover the cost of additional help, I would have paid for Linda myself. Two reasons:

She does the laundry twice a week

I hadn’t gotten an outside caregiver before because my Gpa was adamant about not needing the help or having a stranger in his home. So I listened to him and respected his wishes even though it was becoming increasingly hard on me. What a mistake. I respected his wishes at the cost of my own self-care. I cannot put a dollar amount on the relief I feel not having to do laundry anymore. I can take my kid to the park every Saturday because Linda BOUGHT ME TIME.

I knew that I needed help years ago, but I allowed my emotions to make an illogical choice that wasn’t in my best interest or Gpa’s.

If help is available to you, take it! Expectations and guilt have a way of tricking us into thinking that we do not need help. And honestly, you may not NEED help, but do you want help? It could look like a friend coming over to sit with your mom for an hour or a housecleaning service that cleans for you once a week. It could look like a meal service or transportation service to doctor’s appointments. If help is available do not allow guilt, shame, pride, someone else’s thoughts to dissuade you from receiving help. I knew that I needed help years ago, but I allowed my emotions to make an illogical choice that wasn’t in my best interest or Gpa’s.

I need Linda’s experience.

I need another set of skilled eyes. I listen to her advice, her recommendations, and her thoughts about Gpa’s physical and mental condition. She gives me industry tips and tricks about shower safety, foot fungus cream, etc. Linda is a wealth of knowledge and experience about age related decline and ailments.

Gpa doesn’t like her. He calls her a pest and a “cat lady.” I am sorry that he feels uncomfortable, but I will not go back to sacrificing my Saturday to laundry duty. I understand that it is difficult for him. Her existence in his space implies that he is aging and his abilities are limited; she is a reminder of that. But those are the realities, and in order for me to be healthy, I gladly take the help.

What do you think you could do with an extra 8 hours a week? Could you use that time to increase your self-care? Could you use the time to study? Could you use the time to nap? Marinate on it and take action.

If you are caring for someone in isolation or alone, it can be difficult getting the help or advice that you need. There are many government funding agencies that help seniors or disabled people with meals, transportation, and respite care for you the caregiver. More resources about this are to come.

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