When my children were little, like all mothers, I carried everything with me. A diaper bag full of bottles, diapers, wipes, baby food, and pacifiers, lots of pacifiers. If I knew I might need it, it went with me. I was so happy when I could retire that extra baggage.
Now that I take care of my mother, I have a few new bags. There' s the one I take every where we go; I call it the ICE bag ( I N C ase of E emergency). My bag of tricks to keep my mom from getting restless or agitated, then there are the bags under my eyes. But the one I use the most is my “tool bag”. You know, the one that keeps me sane. It' s full of all the lessons I have learned. All the new was to stay prepared for anything and all the information I can consume about dementia.
Today my new bags are a little heavier then I thought they would be but some of the same things apply. Instead off a stroller I have a wheel chair and instead of child safety locks I have bolts, and buzzers. Below are a few tools that I cant live without:
Water: This is the number one thing I have with me anytime we go anywhere. We live in an area that can get over 100 degrees in the summer so hydration is very important.
A sweater: No matter how hot it gets around here, Judy is always cold, and on more than one occasion I have been out and about without a sweater. So now I actually stash two or three sweaters, jackets, and sweatshirts in my car.
Snacks, snacks, snacks: Judy has lost a lot of weight due to her illness but because she has stayed at the same weight for almost two years the doctors are not concerned about it (yet). I, on the other hand, am always worried about her weight. So I make sure I have little things she can reach on her own available at all times. We have a basket on the kitchen counter filled with granola bars, chips, crackers, and cookies; this way mom can have a snack anytime she wants.
The alarm system: We had an alarm system installed about 6 months ago after Judy crawled out of her bedroom window and took off down the street. It took a while for the three people in the house to notice she was gone (about 30 minutes I think).That is the type of guilt I never want to feel again. Now if I am upstairs without her for any reason I can hear a door or window open. If I can just remember to turn it off before I let the dogs out in the morning I can keep the guards at bay.
The baby monitor: This drives me crazy because I have to hear everything going on downstairs so I only use it when I have to. Those impromptu times when you have to be out of the room. You know, bathroom breaks and stuff.
Patience: Truly a virtue. There are times, many, many times when I forget this one. Then I take a deep breath and realize I can' t be a caregiver without it.
So my bag feels full. Even though I know, like all purses, there is a place I can put one or two more things. So if you have any input, or a tool that you use yourself, I would love to hear about it. Leave me a comment with your advice and you may see it in a new post.