I am blessed with great friends who want to help. They send me notes on bad days and funny messages on Facebook. They text me a cyber hug. “How can I help?” they ask. They know how hard it can be to be a full time caregiver of an adult child. “Please, let me know what I can do.” But the answer isn’t that simple.
How can they help me with my daughter’s emotional distress as she loses her ability to walk?
How can they help me understand her on the days her speech is incomprehensible?
How can they help me interpret the world so she understands what is happening?
How can they help me when she has a meltdown in the grocery store and we have to leave?
How can they help me manage her day to maximize her energy and physical abilities, which change constantly?
How can they help me when she’s so lonely she cries because she misses her cousins?
How can they help me when I’m exhausted and in pain and need to rest my worn out body but she needs help in the middle of the night with a dizzy spell?
The problem isn’t the day to day stuff, like bills and errands. Sure, it would be great to have extra help putting gas in the car and cooking dinner. But those are the ordinary things that actually help me cope. Ordinary things, like laundry and gardening, cleaning the floor, organizing the pantry, and dusting help me stay grounded. The extraordinary things, like dealing with Social Security and Medi-Cal and my daughter’s inability to dress herself anymore, are the things that overwhelm me. But those are the things others can’t help me with.
So how do I answer “How can I help?” I do need help, but I don’t know how to specify any more than I can figure out how to stop Rhia’s tremors. But if you have an idea, let me know.
Because right now, I’m emotionally overwhelmed supporting my daughter as she loses more physical and mental skills. I can’t figure out how to help myself.