Laudable Linkage

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I don’t usually do these two Saturdays in a row, but I came across a lot of good reading this week.

When Control-Craving Hearts Get Angry.

Why We Don’t Need to Fear the Moment of Our Death, HT to Challies.

Embrace the Life You Have.

In Defense of the Unspoken Prayer Request.

Which Bible Woman Are You Like?

Advance in Favor. Sometimes an “I don’t care what people think” attitude helps when standing for right and truth when others are not. But the Bible says Jesus increased in favor with God and man. I appreciated this article on what that means.

Don’t Hide Those Grey Hairs.

Infuse Your In-law Relationships With Grace and Love. I am happy to have good relationships with both my mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.

If I have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?

At the bottom of the above link is this video, worth the 12+ minutes to listen:

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Laudable Linkage

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It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to share some interesting online reads with you. Here is my latest collection:

Behind on Bible Reading? Sometimes our Bible reading plans from January have fallen by the wayside by this time. This is some encouragement to pick back up where you left off: “The point of reading daily is to continuously stay in the Word so I might better know and worship the Lord, not to be legalistically bound to a calendar.”

5 Ways Porn Lies to You. Much of this is true for other sins as well.

God Is Much Greater Than Her Experience of Him.

It’s Not My Place to Judge.” What’s right and wrong with this sentiment.

Yes, You Can Please Your Heavenly Father.

God Will Open Doors For You to Serve.

Manoah’s Wife.

Blame Your Parents?

Parents, Take Time for the Tender Moments.

The Surprising Power of Little Things. HT to Challies.

No, “Saul the Persecutor” Did Not Become “Paul the Apostle.” I would have sworn this was wrong, until I read it.

When Should Christians Use Satire?

Solomon’s Twitter Guidelines.

No, Stay at Home Moms Do Not Waste Their Education, HT to Challies. I have felt this way but hadn’t put in into words quite like this. Very much agree that “Education is not just a synonym for job training” and “Education helps people do a better job at any task by helping them discover how to think, how to learn, and how to exercise the self-discipline necessary for achievement.”

A couple about missionaries:

5 Things Every Missionary Wants You to Know, HT to Kim.

Praying Biblically For Your Missionary: Clarity.

And a couple of funnies found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

 

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Laudable Linkage

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This is later in the day than I usually post these, but, looking at my list, I wanted to go ahead and post what I had instead of waiting for a week and having a longer list. If you’re like me, the more there are, the more I get kind of lost in them and lose interest in looking. I found these all thought-provoking in one way or another: perhaps you’ll see something of interest as well.

Irritability. HT to Challies. This one hit me right where it hurts. “Life is never lived in the sterile confines of a sinless, utopian laboratory well-removed from the Curse’s numerous provocations. This side of heaven, we are either about to be provoked, being provoked, just having been provoked, or some combination of the three. Everything inside and outside of us has the potential to provoke in one way or another.”

When They Walk Away, HT to Challies.

Words Matter: Recovering Godly Speech in a Culture of Profanity

Synonyms For the Word of God. Have you ever wondered, especially in places like Psalm 119, what the difference was between a statute, testimony, precept, etc., or whether they were all just synonyms for God’s Word? This article explains the differences.

4 Things to Remember When Thinking About Curses in the Psalms, HT to Challies.

The Threat of Joy in Ministry – one time Jesus tells us not to rejoice.

Creating a Church Culture That Invites Children Into Worship.

Do Children Have a Financial Obligation Toward Parents?

The Craft and Courage of L. M. Montgomery. I was surprised to learn a few years ago that the author of Anne of Green Gables was not happy in her personal life, in contrast to many of her characters.  This was a good perspective.
My Oath of Office. Good no matter who is elected.

Frugal Grocery Shopping Strategy. I need to do better at this.

A couple about writing:

3 Simple Ways to Create Memorable Lead Characters

What Being an Editor Taught Me About Writing, HT to Challies.

And this is all too true these days:

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Have a great weekend!

Laudable Linkage

This is my first chance in a couple of weeks to share noteworthy reads discovered around the web in that time. Enjoy!

A Case For Christian Magnanimity.

The Hero of the Story Is Always God.

Why Doesn’t Our Faith Move Mountains?

The Providence of God in History.

5 Christian Cliches That Need to Die.

When Does Old Age Arrive? I’m facing a milestone birthday next year, and I found this very encouraging.

Mothers in the Church.

Learning to Let Go. “Even though a parent’s spiritual influence is so important, I was never meant to fill the place that only God can in my daughter’s life. He is a better teacher, protector, and guide than I can ever be.”

Which Expired Foods Are Okay to Eat.

And a few concerning the holiday season:

Evangelism, the Holidays, and My Atheist Grandpa.

5 Ways to Make the Holidays More Peaceful.

Navigating Family Tensions at the Holidays.

The Problem With Our Holly Jolly Christmas Songs.

No wonder our pets get confused sometimes. 🙂

dog-under-tree

And finally, this brought a smile that I am sure my fellow Southerners will understand:

honey

Happy Saturday!

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Laudable Linkage

Here are some helpful reads discovered in the last couple of weeks:

God Actually Spoke to Me. Yes. God’s speaking to us through His Word is no less personal than His speaking to us orally.

Stubborn, Ceaseless Civil War, Part 1 and Part 2, from a former pastor about the battle with what the Bible calls our flesh.

Love and Marriage: The Narrowing.

10 Reasons Why You Should Underprogram Your Church.

How to Capture and Save Great Quotes, HT to Challies.

Never Underestimate the Value of a Power Edit.

Happy Saturday!

Middle Child and Other Syndromes

My middle son like to tease about having “Middle Child Syndrome.” Recently he shared this:

Middle child

It’s true that there is such a thing as Middle Child Syndrome, with middle children feeling often overlooked between the oldest, who did everything first, and the youngest, who is new and cute and takes the focus off the middle one. But, really, each position has its problems and could have its own syndrome. I have always loved Erma Bombeck’s piece to each of her children and why she loved each one “best.”

The oldest is the guinea pig. Usually parents are most cautious with their firstborn because everything is new to them and they’re not sure what to do. That cautiousness usually rubs off on the child. Or, more rarely, I think, first-time parents are too sure of what to do and then have to find out the hard way that they’re not always right. Perhaps being surrounded by adults also usually makes him a little more serious and introvertish. He might have the biggest shock to his system when the next baby comes, compared to other children, because everything was his and only his before – his parents’ attention, every toy, piece of clothing, etc. Now it all has to be shared with a newcomer. The oldest also has a built-in set of responsibilities. He usually has to help mom and dad in various ways when another baby comes, has to watch them at times, has full-blown baby-sitting responsibilities when he’s older. Because the parents are usually just getting started and then having more children, money is tighter, so there may be fewer opportunities available. When the kids as a group get in trouble, he’s often held to a higher standard because he’s older and should have “known better.”

Middle children can indeed feel like they’ll never stand out because they’ll never be the first to walk, talk, etc. But their parents are usually a little more relaxed with them: the firstborn didn’t die from their mistakes, and they’ve learned that some of the things they worried about were not that big a deal after all. That in turn helps the child to be a little more relaxed. Middle children are usually more sociable and make friends more easily because they’ve been around other people near their age since birth. Middle children are said to be peacemakers: I didn’t see that in my own middle child growing up (or in my siblings, either), at least not with his brothers, but I do see it in him as an adult. Middle children have the advantage of seeing what’s involved when the oldest starts school, tries out for a sports team, starts piano lessons, etc., and that may work hand in hand with their more easygoing nature to make them less afraid to try new things.

Youngest children are accused of getting away with everything. If that is true because the parents are getting tired, distracted, and lax in their discipline, that is a definite problem. But often it just looks that way because the parents are even more relaxed, have more of a handle on what works and what doesn’t, what is concerning and what isn’t, etc. The youngest is usually even more sociable and makes friends easily, again, perhaps because he has always grown up with other people around. Youngest children may feel like they are never taken seriously, like their family will always see them as the baby. They may feel “picked on” by their older siblings. They may have unfinished baby books and the fewest baby pictures because the parents were busy with a growing family. They may get tired of hand-me-downs (or they may look forward to them: mine was delighted when his older brother game him a bunch of toys he had grown out of). The financial situation of the family can go two ways: if the older children have moved out on their own, there may be more money and therefore more stability and opportunities for the youngest. However, if older children are in college, etc., and the family has to care for grandparents, time and resources might be tighter for the youngest. I’ve felt bad for my youngest that he doesn’t remember a lot of the family trips and activities we participated in as a family because he was so young, and now, with his older brothers moved out and Great-Grandma moved in, there is not an opportunity for a family vacation in the sense of all of us going somewhere together. In his mind we “never” took a family vacation. But we have taken individual days to do fun things together in recent years. The parents of youngest children may be transitioning to empty-nest mindset while he is still there: my husband is the youngest of four, and when he was a teen-ager, he was often out for school or youth group functions or work during dinner time. His parents had gotten into the habit of eating dinner in front of the TV, and when he came home, they were distracted. He told me when we were first married that it meant a lot that I stopped and greeted him when he got home. The youngest also has parents who are older – which is better in some ways for their wisdom and life experience, but perhaps they might not be up for more physical pursuits. Siblings may be harder on them. They’re often not quite as sensitive as oldest kids because they’ve had to take a lot of flack from siblings as they grew up. I don’t mean not sensitive in a bad way, but in that they don’t get “crushed” when other kids say and do stupid things because they’re used to a certain amount of that from their own siblings. Youngest kids can feel loneliness as older siblings leave the nest – he may feel the most upheaval from the family constantly changing.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of birth order traits – there have been whole books and many articles written about them. These are just some thoughts that came to mind from my family’s experience. There are exceptions, of course, to every list of traits: in the articles I have read, no one list fits everyone in my family in its entirety (either my siblings or my own children).

The main thing I wanted to consider, though, is that God uses everything, even our place in our families and the good and bad parts of that experience, to shape us and to make us the kinds of vessels He wants us to be. Sometimes it’s even the very thing we most thought unfair or most felt we lacked that helps us focus on handling things differently with our own children. I am the oldest of six, and there were times I hated having to be “the responsible one.” Once when my mom called me her “built-in babysitter,” I wanted to stomp my foot and say, “I am NOT a baby-sitter! I am a daughter!” But I wasn’t allowed to do things like that. 🙂 As an adult, though, I am glad that sense of responsibility was forged into my character. Sure, I was overcautious and fairly tense, but God paired me with someone who is the youngest of four and much more relaxed. I didn’t even realize that about myself until after we had been married for a while, so I wouldn’t have thought to look for someone to offset that trait in me. I am thankful God did that for me. 🙂 And a cautious outlook is not entirely a bad thing, unless it’s paralyzing. Every trait has its good and bad sides. My more cautious nature has held me back sometimes but it has kept me out of trouble other times.

In the article The Secret Powers of Middle Children, the authors point out that “They achieve because of the way they’re being brought up. They develop strategies and skills that stand them in good stead as adults.” I didn’t agree with everything in the article, and not all of the traits mentioned are ones I have seen in my own child. But it was an interesting overview of middle children. Some of the very traits that middle (and oldest or youngest as well) children most disliked growing up go into making them the adults they become.

My own middle son was the first to spend an entire summer away from home, the first to travel to another country, the first to marry and have a child. I don’t know if any of those were done specifically in order to be the first at something or if they just happened that way – I think the latter. But I think it is an illustration that we don’t have to be bound by our birth order.

I chafed a bit at the article’s suggestion that middle children are “neglected” by parents. It may actually help them that they are not under the microscopic focus of parents like the oldest was. Personally, I was glad that I had some alone time with each child. My oldest was almost three when his brother was born, so I had those three years with him. Then when he went to school, I had a lot of alone time with my middle child until his younger brother was born when he was six. Then when my middle child went to school, I had a lot of alone time with the youngest. But I think even in families with more children than that or closer together than that, they strive to have some personal alone time with each one.

I also resented a bit the article’s assertion that “Middles have lower self-esteem than other birth orders because of their lack of uniqueness and attention at home.” We always felt that each child was unique and enjoyed finding the personality traits of each one, and, as I said above, strove to make sure each one had attention.

Another factor here, though, is that every parent will make mistakes, have blind spots, overlook or miss cues, etc. Even when parents strive to be the best, most attentive parents they can, they’re only human, and sinners as well.

But whatever our place in the order of our families, the type of families we have, the amount of parenting we did or didn’t have, and any other trait that went into our growing up – God uses all of it to develop in us traits we need. He can make up for any lack and pitfalls and help us to balance out in the areas we need to.

Strands of stray thoughts

Thanks for your responses to my query about whether ads were appearing here. It sounds like it’s not often. I really don’t want to have to move to a paid host – or really to move at all – so if they’re not bothersome or many, I think I’ll leave things as they are. Please do let me know if they become a nuisance or if you see anything objectionable.

I keep a list of possible topics to blog about as they occur to me so I won’t forget them, and then work on them later. I haven’t been in a malaise, exactly, with blogging this week, but as I’ve looked over those notes, so far I haven’t seen anything I wanted to develop, and I haven’t had anything burning on my heart to write about. I’m making progress in a few books but likely won’t finish any of them to discuss this week. So I’ve been getting some other things done around the house, and that’s been nice.

I’ve done some preliminary work on a possible writing project that I am excited about. If it comes to anything, I’ll let you know. 🙂

We had a very nice 4th of July, which I’ll say more about on Friday. Our neighbors used to host a major fireworks display but haven’t in the last few years since the last ones caught fire in four places in our yard. But this year some guests of neighbors started shooting off some pretty big ones, and, unfortunately, weren’t being very careful. Some fell over and shot down the street, some went off too close to the ground. They got too close to our cars and house at one point and my husband had to speak to them. I used to hate fireworks laws because we grew up with them and most people knew how to handle them safely, but since we can’t count on that any more, I’ve come to appreciate them. In our part of the county they are legal, however. I was very thankful that we’d had rain off and on that day and the week before. We have some dying trees that we’re going to have removed this fall, and they’re very dry, so if any stray sparks or fireworks debris had caught any of them, that could have been a disaster. But as it was everything was pretty well soaked, thank the Lord.

Pinterest used to be one of my favorite places on the web. I used to liken it to friends sitting around looking at magazines, telling each other, “Ooh, look at this!” But with the proliferation of “Picked for you” pins and “Promoted pins,” it’s not  cozy gathering of friends any more. Plus some of the “Promoted pins” (the ones paid for by businesses) have content that I don’t want to see. There is a little x beside them you can click on to hide the pin, but still, I really only want to see the pins of the people I chose to “follow.” If I want to search for recipe, craft, or decorating ideas, I know where and how to do that: I don’t want them to do it for me. One day I did start clicking on things and found a place on Pinterest to leave feedback, but I couldn’t tell you now how to find it. But there was a place to click on why you didn’t like Picked For You Pins and Promoted Pins (one of the reasons being only wanting to see pins from people you follow) and a place to leave a comment. There was a separate place for each (one for Picked For You Pins and one for Promoted Pins), so if you can find it and express your opinion as well, maybe there will be enough that they’ll go back to the way things used to be. I know they have to make money on the site some way, but the Promoted Pins are an annoying way to try to do it, in my opinion.

On to something more positive…

Our little grandson Timothy is about fifteen months old, and is such fun His little brain is developing so fast. It’s amazing to watch the wheels turning as he tries to figure things out. We have a TV cabinet that has glass doors, and my husband put some of those child safety locks on them. Timothy has tried pulling on the knob, turning it, and recently when he had his daddy’s keys, he tried poking them in the door to see if that would work. Cracked me up! Of course, one consequence of his curiosity and desire to explore and investigate things is that he’s figuring out how to get around some of our barricades, so he has had to start hearing the word “No.” He used to cry whenever he heard it, even though it wasn’t said loudly or sternly. But now he has lost a little bit of that sensitivity. It’s so hard when that clash of wills starts to crop up, but it’s a necessary thing to deal with, for their own safety and for planting the seeds of learning self-control. He’s pulling up with ease and side-stepping while holding on to furniture or pushing things, but hasn’t stepped out on his own yet. A couple of times he’s almost forgotten himself and done so. I don’t think it will be long!

Feeling the raindrops

Feeling the raindrops

I’ve been in something of a rut with dinners lately. Everything seems too involved or too hot to make. What are some of your favorite quick and simple summer dishes?

Hope your summer is going well so far. Can’t believe we’re through June and now a week into July already!

Laudable Linkage

Here are some thought-provoking reads from the past couple of weeks – maybe you’ll find one or two of interest:

My Father Killed My Mother. “How am I supposed to keep the command to honor my father when all I really know of him is that he hurts people to the point of shattering the very next command about murder?”

A Pastor’s Response to the Death of a Childhood Abuser.

What Missionaries Aren’t Telling You (And What They Need From You)

When Your Heart Isn’t In It. “Do you really think that avoiding worship will be the means by which your heart will changed, prepared to engage in worship?”

How Much of My Sinful Past Should I Share With My Children?

The Duggars and the Evil Outside, HT to my friend Ann. You may be getting tired of all the posts about their situation, and I have been mainly staying out of it since I don’t watch the show and only know what I’ve heard, but I thought this made an important point: We can try to shield children from all the evil “out there,” but we still have a sin nature in our own hearts that we have to learn how to deal with. Then just this morning I saw an article on an interview with Jill and Jessa Duggars that “The media coverage has been 1,000 times worse than the incident.

Korean Artist Beautifully Illustrates What Real Love Looks Like. These are sweet.

And, finally, I think I may have posted it before, but I saw it again recently and it still cracks me up:

Laudable Linkage

Here are some posts I found worth reading and sharing over the last couple of weeks:

The Dead End of Sexual Sin along with some advice from John Owen about overcoming sin of any kind.

Providential Dullness: An Easter Meditation. We give the disciples a hard time for missing that Jesus said He would rise again, but Luke 18:34 says, “this saying was hid from them.” Why would that be? Some good answers in this piece.

The Ones in the Front Row.“I cannot control the reception my children’s God-given callings receive out there in the wide world. But I can raise them to be appreciators of beauty, loveliness, and skill. Then, maybe they will be the ones in the front row, clapping their hearts out, whistling, standing and cheering at all the beauty the world holds for them.”

Thanks For Raising the Man of My Dreams! I hate mother-in-law jokes and did long before I became a m-i-l. I did have  relatively good relationship with mine. Here are some good thoughts to enhance that relationship.

10 Ways to Create a Home of Warmth and Grace.

How to Get Published.

For those who like Christian fiction, especially free Christian fiction, there’s a Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt going on this weekend with a possibility of winning 17-34 books from 30+ authors. Some of the individual authors are hosting their own giveaways as well.

Happy Saturday!

Adventures in Elder Care: Caring For a Parent at Home

Eldercare

Some years ago I heard that one of the most delightful older ladies in a church we used to attend in another state had developed Alzheimer’s and that her son and daughter-in-law were caring for her in their home. One time when we had occasion to go back and visit, I asked her daughter-in-law how caring for her mother-in-law was going or what it was like. She smiled beatifically and said, “It’s our privilege!” I could only think, “Wow…she must be a better Christian than I am, because I think that would be hard.” It’s not that I wanted the nitty-gritty details, but I did want to know how God had given her grace for this ministry in case I ever had to do the same.

Our only experience with having a parent in our home for an extended time was when my dad came years before and got sick and ended up in ICU. I believe he was with us for about six weeks. He was not a Christian then (though he became one during that time), and he had lived alone so long that he had forgotten the give and take that there has to be with a number of people under one roof. I don’t mean to dishonor him by saying so, but he was quite cantankerous, especially when Jim was not home. The tension was so great that Jim said afterward we would never have a parent live in our home.

In my post on making decisions for elderly parents’ care, I mentioned that there are some relationships that thrive better when there is some distance. I share the experience with my dad mainly to say that I do understand it can be stormy to have a parent in the home, especially when age and dementia remove some the natural inhibitions. Some elderly parents can be abusive, and we heard enough even in assisted living places to know that bringing some parents home would be quite stressful. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to advise someone in such a case, especially when there don’t seem to be any other options, except to pray for a lot of grace.

In my mother-in-law’s case, we had been talking ever since we moved to TN about moving her home, because now we had a house with no stairs, and we had a room that would work well for her care (some of you may remember my talking about Jim finishing off a room from our L-shaped garage. My son and daughter-in-law lived there for a while when they first moved here, and ever since we had used it for Jim’s office and as a guest room). There was a small drop-off from the house to the garage for which we’d need to build a ramp, and we’d need to figure out shower issues. I was intimidated at first, partly because of my own health issues and partly because of the level of her needs: at the nursing home she had medical help right there. She is what the therapists call a “total assist”: she can’t walk, feed herself, go to the bathroom on her own, turn herself in bed, etc. At home it would be more complicated, and it would have a major impact on our lives. But as she seemed to sink lower and lower, we really felt the best alternative was to bring her home. So we got the room ready, the social worker at the nursing home set us up with renting a hospital bed, air mattress, and a Hoyer lift for transferring her. She also arranged for physical therapists, an occupational therapist, and a once-a-week RN visit, plus they had a couple of home health agencies they could recommend. Medicare wouldn’t spring for a Broda chair, but my husband found one on Craig’s list in a town 3 hours away for a good price.

So we brought her home at the end of July. Jim told me later he really thought we were bringing her home to die, because she had been at such a low place in the nursing home. But she has been thriving under one-on-one care. She had gotten down to 90 lbs. in the nursing home but now is well over 100 lbs. We have a home health aide here most of the day from M-F, and from 8-2 on weekends. The one who is here through the week is great: she has a lot of initiative and does a lot with her, makes sure to turn her every two hours to avoid bed sores, and they seem to get along great. She and I work together to give her a shower twice a week (actually she does the showering part, and now that we have done it several times, I’m more able to help with getting here ready for it and helping afterwards).

The physical and occupational therapists and nurse’s visits only lasted a number of weeks (about six, I believe.) The therapists told us that because she had been left contracted for so long in the nursing home, we would likely never get her straightened back out again, but doing some exercises with her would help stave off further contracting so we could dress, bathe, and move her.

The advantages of bringing her home have been:

• She’s thriving under one-on-one care. She gets more attention, time with meals to make sure she is eating adequately, stimulation of conversation and interaction with others.
• Since she has the same caregivers, they get to know her and her “quirks” as opposed to a high turnover in other facilities and having different people cycle through.
• We don’t have the long drive to see her (it had been about 20 minutes one way).
• We can see her more often through the day.

There are, of course, disadvantages, and I don’t share these to complain but rather just to be honest with anyone else reading:

• You can’t go anywhere without working around having someone else here with her.
• Caregivers cost $17 an hour with the agency we work with (more on that in a moment), so we can’t use them much more than we already use them. Consequently we rarely get to go out as a family to eat or to an activity.
• Caregivers are a big help, but the downside is having a stranger in your home (especially for an introvert like myself). Though none of the caregivers we have are strangers any more, it still feels awkward sometimes. I don’t want them to feel like they are servants who have to stay in that one area of the house: they do come into the house to do her laundry (I felt awkward about that at first, too, thinking I’d rather do it, but there is not that much for them to do since she sleeps a lot, so I relented), bring her lunch tray back, get water, go to the bathroom, etc., and everything except the bathroom involves coming through the areas where I usually am. Our regular weekday caregiver is very much a gregarious extrovert who I am sure has a hard time being in a room all day with someone who doesn’t say much, so she comes over just to chat sometimes. It’s funny – if I am up and around doing something, she doesn’t usually say much, but if I am at the computer, I guess it looks like I am “not doing anything,” so she is more inclined to come over and talk then, when that’s the time I would least like to be interrupted because I’m often trying to think through a blog post or writing a newsletter. But I’m supposed to be hospitable, so I try to be, and usually I don’t actually mind, but it’s just hard mentally to get some things done. There is one kind of freedom of having someone here and knowing her needs are being looked after; there is another kind when the caregivers are gone for the day and I feel like I can relax.
• When I am alone with my mother-in-law, there is often a certain amount of tension or pressure just in wondering if I should be over there with her if she looks like she’s awake (we have a video baby monitor). If I go in to feed or change her, I usually stay in there with her until she goes back to sleep, but often I still feel like I should be in there all day when it is really not necessary since she does sleep quite a bit.
• Changing her every two hours to avoid bedsores includes the nighttime hours, which Jim has taken on.
• If one of the regular caregivers can’t be here for some reason (going out of town, illness, etc.), there is not always a ready replacement, or we might not choose to use one because we’d spend so much time showing the new person what to do that it wouldn’t be a help to us.

I mentioned working with a home health care agency. The agencies who provide medical care (nurses, therapists) are different from the ones who provide regular day to day care like feeding, changing, etc. If we hired someone individually outside of an agency, we could probably pay them less while they would get more (I think of the $17 an hour we pay, they only get 10 or so). But we decided to use an agency for several reasons: if there is a problem with a caregiver, we can call the office instead of having to deal with it; if we don’t like how someone works, we can ask not to have that person again (which has only happened with one person); if the regular person can’t come we do have the option of having the agency send someone else out (there is one lady who is good as a fill-in); the agency checks out their background and skills before sending them out.

I haven’t mentioned finances: I can’t say much knowledgeably about them because my husband has dealt with that aspect. But I do know that neither Medicare nor insurance pays for home caregivers or assisted living: they did pay for the first 100 days in a nursing home (after a 3 day hospital stay) as long as there was some kind of skilled nursing going on (physical, occupational, or speech therapy). Once the therapies stopped, Medicare stopped paying. They did pay for the therapists who came to the house. They do pay for some of the equipment, such as the hospital bed. Actually they pay for the rental of it, and if we use it for I think 12 or 13 months, then we own it. They paid for a regular wheelchair but not the Broda chair (which she needs since she can’t sit up straight). They would not pay for the air mattress unless she currently had a bedsore (even though she’s had one before and we wanted one to help prevent another.) If her savings and monthly income were to drop to a certain level, then she’d have access to Medicaid. She receives Social Security, a small pension, and a VA benefit, which have not been enough to cover assisted living or nursing home or home health care costs, so we have had to dip into the savings from the sale of her house.

In fact, her savings has gotten down to a level that we feel we need to cut the weekday caregiver’s hours back. The weekend lady is here from breakfast til 2 p.m. since Jim is home on weekends, but the weekday lady we’ve had here til 5 p.m. To try to manage my mother-in-law’s funds better, we’re going to cut the weekday lady back to 1:30 p.m. We’re hoping that doesn’t mean she won’t be getting enough hours and will have to look for another situation: that’s one reason we haven’t cut back before now.

I’ll have to admit that even though I agree that we need to take this step, and though I can handle caring for her in the afternoon now, I don’t feel as beatific as my friend I mentioned at the beginning of this post. People act as if we’re doing something noble by caring for her at home, but it doesn’t feel so noble to spoon pureed food into someone’s mouth and clean up the other end, and there are some days (just like when a new baby is in the house) where it feels like that’s all you’re doing, even though you know it’s not. As I mentioned in talking about the “empty nest” recently, when your kids are grown and gone, you miss them, yet there is a side of you thinking, “maybe I can write that book now, or learn to quilt, or travel” (for some people – I am not a traveler myself). When a parent is in the home, some of those aspirations have to go back on the back burner.
But if this is God’s will, this is my ministry for now. In fact, the very night we decided that we would need to cut back on the caregiver’s hours, thereby increasing my own, God was so good to have these verses in my evening reading for Daily Light on the Daily Path:

Distributing to the necessity of saints. Rom. 12:13

David said, Is there yet any that is left … of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? II Sam. 9:1

Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matt. 25:34-36, 40

Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Matt. 10:42

To do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Heb. 13:16

God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Heb. 6:10

Another verse that often comes to mind with my mother-in-law is I Thessalonians 5:14b: “comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” And I Corinthians 13 about love applies, too, as well as the verses I mentioned in my first post about our obligation to care for our parents.

I do need to look at it as my friend did, that it is my privilege to care for her. She does make it easy: she is sweet, rarely complains (except when someone’s hands are cold 🙂 ), and smiles and appreciates any little thing that is done for her.

Practical helps

I probably should make this part into a separate post as this is getting long, but I think I prefer to keep it all together.

I feel more confident about being able to care for her myself now after having observed and helped the aides with showering, changing, and moving her. I had been afraid of lifting her since my balance isn’t always stable, but with the Hoyer lift there is really no lifting involved. The aides started out using a draw sheet to move her from side to side or up in bed, but now we pretty much just use a large waterproof pad that is always underneath her.

Since she’s been home we’ve discovered a plethora of information available online (including videos on everything from feeding to using the Hoyer lift to repositioning) as well as resources. Just Googling ‘hospital gowns” and “waterproof pads” has led us to sites with those and other supplies. When she was having trouble staying in position in her shower chair, we tried using a gait belt, but that was a little too firm. I Googled “shower seat belt” and found just what we needed.

With other needs, Jim’s skills have been wonderful. I mentioned the shower situation. The therapist had recommended a sliding seat where the patient sits on one end and then is slid into the bath/shower area, but Jim’s mom wasn’t stable enough to do that. We have a step-in shower in one bathroom, so Jim built a platform in the bottom, so it was level with the step, and then a ramp leading up to it. We put her in her shower chair in her room, put a towel over her, and roll her backwards into the shower, then roll her back to her room afterward.

photo

We do put a towel under the ramp to absorb sprays and drips from the shower.

Transportation was another problem. Right after she moved home she needed to be established with a doctor since she was no longer under the care of the ones in the nursing home. Therapists, nurses, etc., make house calls, but not doctors. 🙂 There is a transport system here that can take patients in wheelchairs to appointments, but they don’t accommodate the Broda chair. So for that visit we had to prop her up in her wheelchair, be ready an hour before the time we needed them to pick her up, and be ready to wait an hour after being done with the appointment for them to come back and get her. Jim and the caregiver accompanied her, but it was a very long day, and there was no way to reposition her like we’re supposed to do every two hours to avoid pressure sores. So Jim found a ramp that would attach to the back side of our van, took out the back seats, and found that if he lowered her chair into almost a full reclining position, he could get her into the van, then raise her up into a sitting position. Then he had clamps to secure her chair into the place where the seat that he had removed usually plugged in, and he was able to secure the seat belt over her into the next seat. It’s hard to explain without photos and videos, but it worked very nicely and gives us more leeway in being able to take her places.

My man job since she has been home has been figuring out how to prepare a balanced diet that can be pureed. An immersion or hand blender works better than the big regular-sized blender (the big one works well but it leaves you with a bunch of bulky parts to wash). You can actually probably puree most anything if you add enough liquid, but some things work better than others (we even tried a tuna fish sandwich once. It did puree, but she didn’t care for it. :)). Almost any casserole purees well. Most vegetables we’ve tried work well, too (except corn and broccoli. They do well in casseroles but not so well by themselves, although creamed corn does fine). Canned vegetables and fruits work well. Mandarin oranges just turn into juice. Meats are probably the hardest. Soft meats like Salisbury steak do well. We keep a jar of prepared gravy on hand for that kind of thing. We add something called Thick-It if a food ends up too liquid. Usually we just puree whatever we’re having, but when we’re having things that would not puree well (like pizza and salad), we keep a few frozen and canned items on hand for her. Of course, things like pudding and ice cream that are already soft work great. We do supplement her diet with Ensure. It is probably not as necessary now that she has put on some weight, but we felt it was vital when she first came home and her weight was so low.

I hope some of this has been helpful. Let me know if you have any questions. As I’ve said before, I am certainly not an expert, but if I can share something I have learned along the way that will be helpful to anyone else, I’d be glad to.

Of course, the bulk of our experience has been with a parent who is pretty much bedridden. I’ve had friends who have brought parents home who are able-bodied but with Alzheimer’s or who are in good condition both physically and mentally but for various reasons can’t live alone any more. That would be a different set of adjustments, but it would include the need to incorporate a new person as an everyday family member rather than a guest and to make yourself available to that person. If you’ve had experience along those lines, please feel free to share in the comments.

In my next and probably last post in this series, I’ll discuss some ways to help parents as they age.