Caree complaints - No. 4: "You're untidy."

In my early days of employment there was a notice in the workshop: “The job is not finished until you have tidied up.” Hence this is closely related to no. 3 of this series.

The truth is that neither my caree nor I are as tidy as we used to be. In my case, since tidying is the final stage of doing a job, pressures from the caree can postpone the tidying process. Even when the tidying has been completed, upsets can happen. For example, I have cooked the meal, which we have finished, then I have cleared up the dishes. The kitchen is starting to look tidy again. Then my caree asks for something else to eat. I need to unsettle the kitchen again. I am running short of time to start my next job and I say to myself, “To hell - the kitchen can wait till later.”

I have coping strategies, but they are not consistent with common ideas of tidiness. For example, when I arrive home and cast off clothing, to save time I chuck clothes into my “floordrobe”. This is an area of the floor between my bed and the window, out of sight from the bedroom door. I am not proud of this arrangement but fits domestic routine.

There are always periods of the day when I am waiting in suspended animation. Sometimes my caree says she will require assistance in the bathroom in five minutes time. At bedtime I assist her in the bathroom, then there is a waiting period for a few minutes while she dries herself off, before I see her into bed. Instead of doing nothing in these waiting periods, these are the times to tidy the “floordrobe”, the kitchen or whatever.

My caree also has coping strategies which could be construed as untidy. She still has a very active mind, and spends a lot of time in the study organising things for societies we belong to. She opens a drawer of the filing cabinet and uses it as a temporary support for her bag and her walking sticks. She piles papers and books on the printer. (This can be a nuisance; they need to be removed if we need a photocopy, or the printer jams.) She positions things so that she can access them easily, and no longer leaves a clean desk when she finished, as she once used to, but now and then we do have a tidying session, when I put away lever-arch binders, which are too heavy for her to handle.

Overall the carer-caree situation tends not to support tidiness. I do not exalt material things, such as house-pride, above welfare and well-being.

How do others cope?

I have done a deal with my house. Everyone is greeted with a smile and a cup of tea or coffee.
Friends, washing machine man, especially the septic tank lorry driver.
I think I’m the only one he gets a cuppa from, but I always look after the driver, as most of my male friends are lorry drivers!

It’s OK for the house to be tidy, untidy, or anywhere in between.
This week, it’s been grim. Steam engine preparations took priority.
Next weekend, steam rally, then county show.

I’m sat in my “study/sewing room” putting everything where it belongs, listening to Joni Mitchell.
No more sewing for a couple of weeks.
One of the best things I bought was a set of Bisley 10 drawer filing cabinets, then five more!
All from ebay, second hand, bit scruffy but some T cut brought them up like new.
Your OH might find these help, not too heavy to move, filing is easier, as long as every drawer is labelled!

Perhaps ask her to help out

Yes, Bowlingbun, same in our household. Welfare and personal relations are most important.

I’m sat in my “study/sewing room” putting everything where it belongs, listening to Joni Mitchell.
No more sewing for a couple of weeks.

My caree has a corner of the lounge “taken over” by items awaiting repair or other forms of needlework. Things on the settee and the table in front are arranged to be accessible to her. When we are expecting visitors, we do tend to “put on face” and have a bit of a tidy. If we have unexpected visitors they take the house as they find it. (Maybe thinking, “Thank goodness other people also have houses that are not always tidy.”) At least our house looks “lived in” and not like a furniture showroom.

One of the best things I bought was a set of Bisley 10 drawer filing cabinets, then five more!
. . .

We have something similar - not Bisley but the same idea. We use them to store paper, envelopes and other stationery items. My caree compiles quizes for use in pubs and other organisations we belong to. We have found that lever arch files are the best way to store these, flexible and plenty of capacity. They can get heavy but I do the lifting.

She would if she could, but she can’t - so she won’t.

I do feel for you. I remember the feeling of not being able to do right for wrong!
You are doing an amazing job and I bet deep down your caree knows that. You sound worn out

Thanks for your comments, Pet66. I agree - a break would do me good.

We recently had a short break together, and have a longer one planned for later this year. I do get some enjoyment from these breaks, but it can be hard work - especially if air travel is involved. The next break will involve ferry crossings. We have treated ourselves to first class with full disabled facilities, to ease the strain.

Nevertheless, after a break together, I sometimes feel I need a break on my own, to recover from the hard work.

We have a friend who sometimes visits us and looks after my caree, giving me a few days away. There is an event I should like to attend later this year, as well as a wish to visit family and friends elsewhere. It is likely that this friend will visit again, but there is no date in mind as yet; we are relying on someone else’s generosity; I can’t just plan in a date for a few days away.

I am trying to get my caree interested in respite care, but, like so many carees on this forum, she does not want to know. At present we have only emergency care set up if something happens to me, and it lasts for only three days. I would be looking for occasional respite care. I have put it to my caree that she should consider what would happen if I suddenly fell ill and had to go to hospital (or worse). She would have to cope with an unfamiliar situation and would probably not get the best option of a care home if she had to go into one. Whereas if we had a relationship with a respite care service she would have someone on hand to assist immediately. Our medical practice has referred me to a reliable caring organisation but logic and reason do not seem to get through to her. Likewise I cannot get her interested in a pendant alarm. If I were living alone, I’d certainly have one of those myself, even though I am quite fit and active for my age.

Money is not an object. She has a generous work-related pension, as well as state pension, and receives attendance allowance at the higher rate.

I am going to need to work on this, and find ways to apply a little pressure - but not too forcefully; that would not work.

Sounds like convincing is going to be tough. Suppose you have to pick your moments.
I met a lovely lady the other day. We were talking of life on our own. Not woe is me just how it is. She has a wrist alarm . Works the same as a pendant but doesn’t look as obvious. I’m going to look into one. Wonder if your caree would consider one as it’s not so obvious?

Pet, that’s a good idea. M has a pendant but really doesn’t like it.

When I worked at a carers centre I sometimes tried to help carers who were struggling to get a break by speaking to the person they cared for to explain that an occasional break was a good thing because it prevented the need for a permanent residential placement. And no break meant that the day that permanent residential care was coming would be sooner rather than later.