Caregiving Tasks Fluctuate between Urgent and Necessary

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by Ray Burow |

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One of the greatest privileges of my life was to care for my mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease. However, I was constantly fighting an internal battle. A feeling of inadequacy always bubbled beneath the surface.

Many caregivers fight similar battles. This is why I wrote the following, which is an excerpt from a yet-to-be published book for caregivers. The excerpt has been lightly edited for this column.

Managing feelings of inadequacy

Often, caregivers of elderly loved ones must manage other ailments, while also managing dementia (as if we could). My mother was a diabetic. She thankfully was not insulin dependent, but we had to pay close attention to her blood-sugar level. Her blood was sampled at least twice a day and her diet was closely monitored.

It is imperative that diabetic patients avoid wounds. For this reason, my mother saw a podiatrist once every three months. Her toenails were trimmed and her feet checked for dead spots. The health professionals in the office were caring, gentle, and proficient. However, on one particular day, the doctor mentioned that her feet were dry and needed lotion. This was not the first time he had brought the subject of her dry feet to my attention. I presumed he thought I had ignored his previous discussion on the subject, because her feet were dry on that day.

The tyranny of the urgent

“It is within your mother’s best interest that you lotion her feet.”  I immediately felt guilty and inadequate. I don’t think the doctor intended to accuse me of being inattentive and borderline negligent to my mother’s needs. But his words threw me into a tiny tailspin. I went down hurt, but came up angry!

Within her best interest …” I did not rip off a litany of responsibilities that were “within her best interest.” Yes, her feet were dry, but dry feet were on the low end of the totem pole of responsibilities for that particular morning.

The day before, her feet were treated and soft as a baby’s bottom. That day, however, there were more pressing tasks. “Within her best interest …” Didn’t he know that EVERYTHING was within her best interest? It was within her best interest that she was clean, her hair and teeth brushed, and nails neat and manicured. More importantly, she was fed and given her medicine on time to ensure that she didn’t lapse into a diabetic coma.

Caring for someone who needs constant attention requires the caregiver to choose between what is urgent and what is necessary. I hope that you’ll be encouraged to know, dear caregiver, that you are within your loved one’s best interest.


Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s Disease.


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