Resolve to Maintain a Sense of Humor

Denny

Somehow in the midst of caring for three elderly members of the same family, Denny and Judy have been able to find the endearing and funny moments in their difficult lives. They have been caring for Denny’s mother, Eileen, for four years in their own home, but they also cared for Eileen’s two siblings who are now deceased. They are very isolated as they have to plan everything around Eileen’s schedule, and she sleeps the majority of the day. They also operate their own business from their home, which eases the boredom but also contributes to the isolation. Their meals out of the house are typically at Burger King since that’s the easiest. There is just no way to plan anything, socialize, or have people over.

Denny exclaims, “It’s similar to house arrest!” They try to focus on the few and far between humorous situations. They even write down all of the funny and endearing comments and pull them out when they need a laugh. For example, Eileen’s sister, for whom they also cared, once said to Judy, “You are my bestest somebody!” Another charming statement was “Life is wonderful some of the time – but not too often.”

Denny says his wife has been incredible at caring for all of them, but they are his family, and he feels guilty because she didn’t sign up for this. All three of the family members have suffered from depression, and one had the added burden of dementia.

One thing that has helped tremendously is the dog, Gracie. The exercise of walking the dog is a great stress reliever for them, and Eileen greatly enjoys the dog too. Research shows that animals can be a huge source of comfort.

At times they get discouraged and feel they’ve had enough. While they were caring for his mother’s other two siblings, they constantly received calls from the homes they were in because of problems and had to move them several times. Three people in one family is a lot for two people to handle; however, they are not angry at his mother or her siblings, but at the situation itself!

But they haven’t let the situation defeat them. They retrieve past funny and sweet comments when they need them. Humor has been their salvation throughout all of these trials.

What Can I Do This Week?

  • Read a funny book or rent a comedy and share it with the family member.
  • If you don’t own an animal, consider getting a pet or have a therapy pet visit.
  • In this New Year, try looking for the lighter moments. Try not to take yourself too seriously.
  • Make a point of writing down funny or sweet comments when they happen.

Scripture Verse

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to not take my situation too seriously. Let me cherish the funny and endearing moments. Help me to laugh often, relax, and know that You are with me all the way.

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Finding Serenity, Acceptance, and Courage

Anne

While living in the same home as her parents and the only sibling of five living in the area, Anne became the caregiver, along with her mother, for a father with pancreatic cancer and congestive heart failure for two years. When her mother was exhausted from taking care of her father’s needs during the day, Anne stepped in during evenings and weekends.

Anne said, “You put your feelings aside when you’re in the midst of this. I felt that it was my duty to take care of him just as he had taken care of me when I couldn’t care for myself.” She usually took the night shift so that her mother could sleep, and then she got up for work the next morning. Even though it was difficult and exhausting, work was her savior – a retreat from the situation during the day.

Anne gives this advice, “You learn to be very observant to the ill person’s body language, almost like sign language. You have to be very flexible, but you need to put your foot down when necessary. You must recognize that everyone deals with this differently.” There were many reasons to worry about him, including worrying about him drowning in his own fluid due to the congestive heart failure. But she didn’t let worry consume her.

Anne also cared for her mother in her final days. People who know her believe she would have been an amazing nurse. She was a dutiful daughter who put aside her own needs to care for her parents. Despite exhaustion and fear at times, she was always there when they needed her.

What Helped Her Cope?

Anne taped the serenity prayer to her mirror at work:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. 

What Can I Do Right Now?

  • First, I can accept my situation just as it is.
  • I can reflect on what changes I could make to improve the situation.
  • I can decide what things I can release to ease my exhaustion.

Scripture Verse: Mathew 11:29. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Prayer: Dear Father, help me to turn to You when I am tired and burned out. Only You can give me the strength I need to continue. Help me to surrender the situation to You so that You can provide what I need. Grant me wisdom and courage in my caretaking.

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