by francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Dear Francy; My husband is very ill with a heart condition. He no longer holds a job and is not able to do household chores of any kind. How can I keep him busy?
Well, first of all…all members of a household have to contribute to the home. You just have to get creative about how to keep him involved and not let him fall into the “watch TV all day” world. It will take him and you down to a new low and no one needs to be there.
At meal time, have him set the table. You can keep the flatware in an easy carry basket and the napkins in rings on top. He only needs to take the basket to the table and make place settings for each meal.
You do his wash, take it in to him in the living area and put the basket on a stool and have him do his own folding. If he has to do a walk each day, make sure its to the mail box, with or without you, getting outside is a must. It gives him something to look forward to – or complain about.
Now, there is the problem – complaining. It would be so much easier for the care giving spouse, just to do those small tasks. They get done in a flash when you’re able to multi-task. But guess what? No way. You have to “think” up little things that your senior can do and then make them a must. A job is a job. If you need to put toilet paper out in a bathroom, you hand him the rolls as he leaves his chair for a bathroom break. If its time for garbage, you ask him to carry the small and light trash bin from the bedroom or the bathroom to the kitchen for you. If you are sorting through the bills, ask him to open them- throw out the garbage mail and have the bill and the paid envelop ready for you to put on your billing desk. Keep him involved in your life together. No matter how unwell, little things can be done.
You make the coffee/tea and put the serving pot on the table with the cups and ask him to pour. You have him shine the silver for you – he can do that sitting at the table. You can have him use a small bowl at the kitchen table and peel the apples or peel the potatoes. You bring over the junk drawer and have him sit there and sort and clean it.
You can ask him to find programs for you to circle in the TV section or record on the DVD. And by the way, anyone who watches TV all day, does not get to choose programs at night when you are finally resting and ready to watch TV with them.
Have him gather his clothes for tomarrow and put in the bathroom to ready for his morning shower. Have him mark off his medication or fluid intake. Get him involved in anyway that his limitations allow.
My husband has dementia, he is still able to do projects around the house if they are simple. Like vacuuming, but he does not like it. So there is a fuss each time he does it. Now, I could give in and do it in a 1-2-3- fashion…but I do not. I know that he needs to be involved and I just wait him out. Sooner or later, the vacuum goes on and he gets it done so we can have lunch together! Food is always my draw card for this sort of thing. But really, I now do everything else and as time goes on I will do even more for him. I have to force myself to be strong to keep him busy and be a part of the family life.
The hardest part of care giving is being creative. I say it over and over again. You are tired, you are stressed, you have your own life, your own meds, your own problems and now you take on the whole ball of wax for someone you love. You have to keep strong and make them respect you and the household. Life does not stop because of illness. Weeds have to be pulled, lawns have to be mowed, floors have to be cleaned, dishes have to be done. So, find a place that your senior can do this task or that and make it easy for them by gathering the needed tools into one place. Then set the rules and go for it.
I appreciate what you are dealing with in your care giving to your husband and I thank you for your ongoing gifts of love to him. Please visit my website and get more care giving tips to keep you in the know www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Thank you, francy