Caregiver, R4 Board Member Jeannette Davidson-Mayer,
Shares Her Process for Getting Household Maintenance Done as a Caregiver
I was thinking, “Gee, Here we go again…” As the tears were on the verge of pouring out, I stood on top of our shed removing the old shingles.
Then I stopped…
“Wait a minute, why am I thinking this way?! How is self pity going to help me?”
Yes, I tend to have many conversations with myself while I work through whatever struggle is going through my head. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was time to change directions. First off, I have the knowledge and skills to re-shingle a roof. Second, it was time to consider what resources were available to support this small project. For I want to kick-butt in accomplishing this task.
It was time to reach out for help. I had a few people in my home that could help. So asked my loving husband to ask one of them to come out to join me. Later we got to a point that I was able to convince my daughter to get on the roof to help out as well. Our shed is small so space was limited on number of people to up on top.
My next self-talk focus was to remind myself that we were not in a hurry. Then I needed to verbalize this to those helping me up on the roof and down on the ground. Safety was more important — along with the goal to accomplish re-roofing the shed.
Home ownership is wonderful for us, because it has created valuable stability. When you live with an ever-changing daily new normal, knowing you have a stable home to live in is comforting. Living with a veteran who has a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has created many interesting challenges. Owning our home has helped with stability not only for him but for all of the family.
As many people know, home ownership gives us a sense of stability – but also comes with a lot of maintenance, and responsibility. What you may realize, is how challenging some of these responsibilities are for caregivers. Many of our care recipients aren’t able to help out like they would want to. In our home, my husband is not able be on a roof, not able to be bent over for long periods of time, and mentally has a hard comprehending the processes that need to take place to shingle a roof.
As a caregiver I have many questions to consider, even for simple tasks. For example, when do I ask for help, how do I ask for help, what level of help do I need, where do I ask for help, how much is this going to cost, how do I include my veteran in the process so he feels like part of the process?
These challenges are not only based on the abilities of the care recipient but also the abilities of the caregiver – along with the guessing game that TBI & PTSD can create in the moment. As I have heard by fellow caregivers and stated before, “We are the sucking wound of our community, for we will always need help.” Answering these questions is not always easy.
As a caregiver I had to allow myself to grieve all of the losses.
Yes, you did just really read that.
Grieve once more. What do I grieve?
I grieve the loss of the old days where My Love and I would have been on that roof together knocking out shingling in no time. I truly hate that we can’t be up there together now. I also had to grieve the loss of his ability to know the complete process of roofing. I wanted to include him the best I could throughout the process, so I would ask My Love questions along the way. This meant I needed to know the answers to make sure I wasn’t steered out into the universe.
We asked him to make lunch and to fill our water bottles. To hold the ladder and pick up stray shingles that went flying in the wrong directions. It gave him meaningful purposeful and truly did support us on the roof. Yes, it did create extra focus for me, naturally. For I had to consistently keep him on track and focused. At one point we did send him off on the ride in the ranger with the dogs so we could really hammer out some shingles.
The goal was achieved. My Love felt needed, wanted, and valued. He too was struggling watching his girls up on the roof doing the work a “dad” – a “man of the house” – should be doing instead. He was sad while being frustrated. At times there was anger coming out. He was being a good man in wanting to help take of his family’s home. His ego took a blow this day. We did so much to show him we deeply loved him and appreciated his support from below.
By 2 p.m., DeWayne was done for the afternoon. Nap Time!
Addy and I finished up the roof. We talked more about Dad and how we could have better supported him. We also talked more about his future and hers. It was enjoyable being up there on the roof with my daughter. We laughed and accomplished a needed goal. Great bonding time.
What I learned through this, is that we could better prepare for home maintenance projects in the future. Here is what I thought of for our household, and I hope it helps you too:
- Create a maintenance schedule or a “honey do” list. This gives others a chance to step in to help out when they are able. This also gives us an opportunity to budget for items we are able to accomplish.
- To set a family plan in action on how to achieve the goal together. This helps us to teach our children to care for their home.
- Next, to create an action plan on how to include your care recipient in the plan so they remember how valuable they are to the family. When a family achieves together, it helps bring them closer, creating a closer bond.
When faced with a challenge it is interesting to see how your mindset can overcome.
For me, I am afraid of heights. During this roofing process I was fine until the last two times down the ladder. These last two times fear overwhelmed me. In the face of needing to accomplish something beyond my comfort zone, a true higher power took ahold of my mind so I could achieve a needed goal.
As caregivers we have more than the average list of duties falling on our shoulders. We find creative ways to accomplish tasks, while other times we need different levels of assistance to accomplish a task. It’s not always easy to ask for help. If you know a caregiver don’t hesitate to step in with your special skill set offering help.
To my Fellow Caregivers: Be Your Own Best Doer to Accomplish Anything! Be Your Own Level of Greatness. Create your own resource channels to achieve this greatness.
You Can Do It Too!
We aren’t helpless or hopeless. Some days are more adventurous than others. So be that adventurous person. Make those needed adjustments to support your home for the better. For it is your home.
For us, our next goal is fixing the carport, which my hubby just added another challenge level too. He backed up into one of the support beams and broke it. Yea Me, Yea US and YES WE CAN DO THIS!!!!
We are a Military Family who is American Made!
We Reach Higher, Dream Brighter, and Hold on Tighter.