Caregiving Vignettes: “Refined”

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What Path, Success, Acrylic on Canvas

The painting above is one in a series where I was exploring artistically the idea of paths, and in each painting I was reflecting on the two paths in Matthew 7 that Jesus describes.

I like to paint a path that goes around a bend and you have no idea how difficult that path may be but there is a glimpse of color in the sky if you look up. A sunset usually appears in my paintings even if I start out with a nice blue sky with perfect fluffy clouds. Invariably, I paint over it. I do the same with placid ocean scenes as find myself painting, in the end, a stormy scene with crashing waves against rocks. Drama. But it does seem peaceful and cathartic to me for some reason. Sometimes when I paint, I imagine myself there in the painting, looking around, experiencing it. Weird, or funny? Once I wrote a child’s book and sent to my grandson of how I climbed into a path scene painting and at the end of the path I could see the ocean where I picked up a shell off the beach and brought it back to show him. So I gave him the book with some shells to make it seem like the story might be real.

I feel that being a caregiver is like being on that rocky and dimly lit path that has a beautiful colorful hopeful sky so I look up and keep my faith and hope for a beautiful beach.

Caregiving Vignette: “Refined”

My mother has taught me to first simplify, then refine.

This works in every area of life. I sometimes get lost in the details and it keeps me from getting the job done.

At home, “everything has a place” goes with the simplify and refine. What’s the most disorganized place in a home? Maybe the junk drawer. First, get a few plastic grocery bags and sort the contents to:

(1) things that go in the garage. I’m guilty of putting all kinds of things in the kitchen junk drawer because I don’t feel like going into the garage to put things away.

(2) things that go into the bedroom, and

(3) things that go in another place in the kitchen, and then of course

(4) things to throw out.

Isn’t it true that junk drawers basically are filled with those things?

Don’t think I’m a neat freak, just a semi-reformed messie.

In the workplace, for those who still file actual paper… If you are filing a stack of papers into a filing cabinet, first sort them alphabetically then when you go to file you file quickly. Simplify, then refine. I use this principle when folding towels. First I separate hand towels, face rags, and bath towels. Then the folding goes quickly. Another example is groceries: first put them all out on the table or counter in groups, pantry, spices, refrigerator, other, then put them away. If you got a good bagger at the grocery store that helps.

It’s a good thing I got a little better at simplifying and refining because add a husband with dementia to a wife who’s a messie and you get disaster.

Since my husband cannot put his things away, his room gets messy with interesting things he puts in his drawers, food, dirty clothes, books, trash. I said before in a previous post that I made him a minimalist.

Now, I am not at all a minimalist. I like my cozy cottage feel that is a little arty/cluttered. But his room is different. He gets confused about his clothes. He never can find his electric razor though I keep it plugged into the bathroom socket. He keeps putting it in funny places. His closet, which is a very large walk in closet that I used for storage of many different things, now has been very minimalized. He has only a few pair of khaki pants, a few shirts and T-shirts, and on the wall I have a shoe holder where I slide in his underwear and socks. That way everything has, at a quick glance, a visual place. That actually helps me because now I need to help him more than ever. He at one time was able to find his clothes to change into. But now we have to go in and get his clothes out for him. And, if I do not stand outside of his door and say, “Ok, now, take off your shirt and hand it to me”, and when he does, I hand him a new shirt, he will just put his same shirt back on after his shower. Same with all his other clothes. This is our method to keep him from wearing the same dirty clothes every day. If I don’t do this he will sleep in them every night.

Being simplified and refined helps dementia care.

Thanks, mom. Mom’s always right.

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