August 31, 2014

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Caregivers provide calm in the midst of storms PDF Print E-mail

A few weeks ago when our area was devastated by an extra strong summer storm, my heart was deeply touched by a prayer request from a church member who asked that we especially remember caregivers during times of such unnatural circumstances.

Immediately, my thoughts went back to my dear friend who faithfully cared for his autistic brother. His family team-cared for many years and then, the final 10 years, he gave of his life, 24-7, as the ultimate sacrificing caregiver.

Ironically, the individual who asked for prayer had once in her life been called upon to give special continuous care to a member of her family. As she remembered the world of caregivers, it dawned on me how the most sensitive and caring in such situations are almost always the ones who go through difficult circumstances themselves.

So, while most of us were scrambling for safety, praying for our lives as trees and wires dropped around us and made last minute inventory checks of our lives, there were many caregivers out there who didn’t have the option to think of themselves. They totally invested their energy into their handicapped loved ones, those who couldn’t go for safety because they were in wheel chairs, those whose loved ones reacted violently to the sound of thunder or sirens, those whose loved ones couldn’t begin to understand the inconvenience of living in a dark house with no air conditioning.

Many scrambled to their basements or interior rooms when the county tornado siren went off. Many years ago, I knew of a lady ministering to a Native American group in Oklahoma, where there are many tornadoes. She had been crippled from polio and spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. So where could go she when the sirens went off? Thankfully, a woodworker in the area built an elevated table that she could wheel her chair under when sirens were sounded.

Back to my friend, I can recall times when ice storms struck or storms rolled in. He fervently prayed that their home would be spared of outages because his autistic brother would react nervously if such changes were to interrupt his much-needed rhythm.

People who are autistic, or who share other mental disorders, are often deeply troubled when their routine is interrupted. It then becomes the responsibility of caregivers to attempt to make their environment as comfortable as possible, even in the midst of storms. It is very difficult for them to understand why there would be change in eating routines, bath times and other routine parts of the day.

Other stresses include sirens, flashing lights and rapidly rushing vehicles.

I recall that when my friend would spot an oncoming emergency vehicle, he would often divert to another street or route to avoid an encounter that was extremely irritating to his brother.

Of course, in more serious health problems, loss of electricity can quickly interfere with breathing, purifying machines or other health habits that totally depend on the use of electricity for their function.

It is a natural reaction after a storm such as we had to mourn the loss of shingles, parts of our home structure, and the inconvenience of cleaning limbs and leaves off of our cars and sidewalks. Loss of electricity can mean the interruption of conveniences or worse, the destruction of food in our refrigerators.

However, to the neighbor across the street, it could mean that a caretaker is quickly taking various measures to improve the lives of mentally and physically handicapped. It is a time when we might consider praying for situations well beyond us, situations that could take quick thinking of caregivers and cause annoying interruptions to those who can’t fully understand what is happening in the first place.