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 "Maintenance Is Required" 
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post "Maintenance Is Required"
This article from the latest issue of "Neurology Now" magazine is directed at caregivers. The author asserts that we all require maintenance. She encourages caregivers to recognize:
* the importance of taking time to understand how the changes in life brought on by caregiving are affecting one's emotional and physical health; and
* that taking care of oneself as a caregiver is crucial to being able to take care of someone else. ... _of.1.aspx

From the Editor
Maintenance Is Required: Caregiving demands taking care of yourself, too
Neurology Now
November/December 2010 (Volume 6, Issue 6)

My car warns me when the time for maintenance is approaching. At first, the message—“Maintenance Required Soon”—appears only when I start the car, lasts for a few seconds, and then fades away. If I ignore the message past a certain point, it stays on all the time and changes to “MAINTENANCE REQUIRED!” Having this emphatic warning staring at me while I drive is unnerving, and I usually take the car in soon after.

The last time this happened, I commented to my husband, Steve, that I take better care of my car than I do myself. While this is a problem for most of us, with everything that tugs at our time and attention, for those with the added responsibility of caregiving it can be especially difficult.

Having the responsibility for the health and well-being of another person changes your life, sometimes for the better. In this issue of Neurology Now, we learn how caring for a mother with Alzheimer's disease brought the Eikenberry-Tucker family closer. The family faced a very difficult emotional situation, but by openly acknowledging their feelings, they enhanced their relationships with each other and with Jill Eikenberry's mother.

Those of us who are parents know that balancing our own needs with those of our children can be like walking a tight rope. Maintaining good relationships with our friends and spouse takes more work and planning than ever before. As your children grow up, new priorities and routines continually emerge. Change can be stressful, but we can take a lesson from the Eikenberry-Tucker family: Recognizing the stressors and talking honestly about the effects they are having on us with family and friends can make an enormous difference in the quality of our lives.

Several years ago, my husband and I experienced another life-changing shift in our roles as caregivers. Our girls were on their own, but Steve's parents and brother moved from another city to live near us in San Antonio. All three have significant health problems that require my husband's involvement on a daily basis. It sometimes seems as though our world revolves around providing this care.

Steve's dad has Alzheimer's disease but is spry with a great sense of humor. His brother suffered a serious head injury as a child that left him with weakness and balance problems, but he is caring and always looks on the bright side. His mom, a caregiver all her life for Steve's brother and other family members, is now battling the final stages of cancer. But her biggest concern is that her husband and son will be cared for after she dies.

It has taken us time, tearful discussions, and lots of support from our friends and daughters to adjust to life as we know it now. Caregiving may be hard, but it also comes with enriching experiences and enhanced relationships that may not be possible any other way.

Thank goodness for that message from my car—and the Eikenberry-Tucker story. It helped me recognize the importance of taking time to understand how these changes in my life are affecting my emotional and physical health. It also helped me recognize that taking care of myself is crucial to being able to take care of someone else. If you have wisdom to share about caregiving, please let us know by emailing us at And remember: Maintenance is required!

Take good care,
Robin L. Brey, M.D.

Copyright © 2010, AAN Enterprises, Inc.

Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:01 pm

Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:53 am
Posts: 969
Location: Ocala, FL
Post Re: "Maintenance Is Required"
The author has presented a problem... but the question remains.... and he offers little in the way of solutions. What and how much maintenance is required for my health?

If I go to the doctor, what do I do with Dale during that time? He already has one or two doctor's appointments per week. They take huge amounts of time and energy because getting Dale ready and into the car is a big deal! It's a half day exercise each time and then it means getting him home to bed to rest.

I do get to my nails, hair, and teeth appointments.... but like many of us, I ignore the physical pain of care giving. All these recommendations for counselling, etc. leave me cold .... because there is no time.

We still need to pick up the medicines, shop for groceries, put gas in the car, tend to pets, do the laundry, and load the dishwasher... to say nothing of planning and preparing 3 to 5 meals per day.

When do we have time to do MAINTENANCE for ourselves? In what world does the author live?

Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011

Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:20 pm

Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3441
Location: Vermont
Post Re: "Maintenance Is Required"
Good questions, Leone, and ones that probably every CG asks. When I went for a cardiology checkup this week, he wanted to know why I was several months late making an appt. When I explained that I was always on the road, being with my dad, taking care of his house, and then by the time I'd get around to setting up an appt. I was gone again. And I wasn't even the 24/7 caregiver. I don't know how to fit in system maintenance, and obviously I have been pretty bad at it. Even now that my dad is gone, I am having a hard time fitting in exercise time because my energy level is just so low that I don't feel like doing ANYTHING right now. It stinks.
Pat A. has some great ways of exercising at her home with videos and other things. I think she does a great job of somehow fitting it in (when she has a back that hasn't gotten strained!!!) She's the 1 person who actually seems to have some specifics that we can all learn from. Lynn

Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.

Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:29 pm

Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:53 am
Posts: 969
Location: Ocala, FL
Post Re: "Maintenance Is Required"
Of course, it's all about choices. For me, a good practice session at the piano is better. :P I manage to get that in several times a week.

And some actually do gardening!

Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011

Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:13 pm

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Re: "Maintenance Is Required"
Certainly those things are for your mental health, and it's great you still take time to do them.

Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:39 pm

Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
Posts: 3213
Location: WA
Post Re: "Maintenance Is Required"
Thanks for the 'plug', Lynn! :lol: I exercise--when I can!--for three reasons:
1. It reduces stress.
2. It keeps my body strong, which caregiving requires.
3. I'm still somewhat vain about my figure and want to be able fit into my clothes. :P
Caregiving makes getting outdoors for long walks nearly impossible and the stress of it makes me want to eat more, especially sweet treats. So I need it. Maybe others don't, who are naturally slim, fit and have strong self-discipline. I don't fit into those categories.

Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.

Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:17 pm
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