Making the Most of Every Part of the Day

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Timing is everything when it comes to life. We need to be aware of our own optimal timing as well as what timing suits our older loved one. We also have to be flexible both with ourselves and with our seniors.

Are you a morning person? Or do you like to sleep late and be a night owl? If you’re the full-time caregiver of your mom or dad or even your spouse, there might be a conflict with what time is best for what activity. Most times we will have to adjust our daily schedules and life rhythms to accommodate theirs.

Being aware of the best time to take mom to the doctor, or take dad down to get his haircut, can make life a lot easier for you and your parent. It’s also wise to know our own internal clocks. Taking care of you is vital to your well-being and to that of your loved ones. If you have a bad day, it’s more than likely the whole house will have a bad day. So your loved one needs to be a little flexible and so do you.

I’ve seen it in the assisted living communities where I’ve worked. Most seniors do get up early but not all. Generally, if there’s a lengthy or physically challenging activity for the day, having it early rather than late in the day works well for most seniors. Later afternoons are when most like to take it easy. Many will actually take a nap.

My own parents go to bed with the chickens. They have for years but what has changed is their need for extra sleep. Once they hit the big 80 they began sleeping more. They’re still active but health issues have doubled and so it just takes more time for their bodies to rejuvenate with extra sleep. Daddy likes more sleep than mama. He’s had more illnesses. Mama doesn’t seem to mind. She likes having a little time to herself early in the morning. If you also need a little “me time,” take advantage of when your loved one takes a nap. You just might want to lie down too!

We all change with the seasons. Right now, spring is about to become summer here in the Sacramento Valley and we’ve had our first very warm days. The sun comes up earlier and stays up longer. It can give us an extra boost or just wear us plumb out. I’ve learned from my mama that you have to get out early before it gets too hot to get outside chores done and to do errands.

If you must take your parents out when they’d rather be home resting, make sure they’ve eaten well and had plenty to drink. Take along a few snacks and bottled water to help them through. They don’t need a lot to eat but having little snacks can be a real pick-me-up when we’re tired.

Timing and Meds

This can be tricky. Some medications have to be taken with food. Some cause people to visit the bathroom more often. Some make you tired and some make you wired and what’s a caregiver to do? Take notes and ask lots of questions of your loved one’s doctor. Note when you give them their meds and write down how they felt a few hours later. I take one prescription and have found that taking it about noon time is the best time for me. That might not work for you or your loved one.

Rolling With the Punches

The best advice for anyone at any age is to be flexible and to be observant. My parents have their good days when they get to do exactly what they want. Other days, they have to give in and just rest. What they both do is find ways to rest and enjoy the time. That’s harder for my mama, whose passion is working in the garden, but she also like to listen to her music while doing jigsaw puzzles. Daddy likes to watch Matlock or Judge Judy! Oh, well. Whatever makes him happy.

Be extra aware when you’re wearing down. Find a way to get a break for at least a few hours. There will be times that you’ll need a day or two away. It’s so important to get what you need to stay healthy both mentally and physically.

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