Posted exactly 8 months before Christmas 2023
For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. -1 Cor. 14:33
If you have followed this blog long, you are probably aware of my propensity to buy crappy cars. I drove Tempo One (RIP) for several years. He took a beating and was already an anti-“looker” when I bought him. I have sense sold him to the scrapyard with hopes he will be turned into a nice toaster or garden hoe. I have since bought a couple of nicer cars with hopes of not owning a driving Money Pit. One of the cars I purchased was a Dodge Caliber from a friend. It had an interesting semi-issue to work through: the AC pulley and the rest of the belt pulleys didn’t line up perfectly which would eat a small part of the belt. It had been that way for quite a while, even before my friend had it. I decided it wise to fix it. As it turned out, the parts were all right, but the bracket that held on the AC compressor and alternator was replaced by one that was wrong and had been rigged to work. The alternator was actually operating upside down too. It all worked, but it surely was a pain to grind away the bracket, manually line up a bunch of things, and worry about a semi-broken belt. All of this is a long, winding, shoe-horned may of getting to my topic today: The Value of Simplicity in mechanics and in caring for a loved one with dementia. Here is my list for your consideration:
Top Five Things We Can Gain from Simplicity
- Start easy and work toward harder– If you learn nothing from my blog (a distinct possibility not because of the sources I cite but because of the writer), you should know this: The right answer is often right under our nose. With the car, putting on the right bracket was the right choice. The folks that fixed it the other way went through much more work than they needed to. Now that it has the right bracket, all is easy peasy. In caregiving, don’t go extravagant…go simple. Want to buy a gift for your loved one? Nothing wrong with a fun puzzle or a cozy fidget blanket. Focus on simple without looking childish and simple. Want to have a family get-together? Smaller and quieter is better. Get out the pictures and share them anew, not through quizzing with the dreaded “Remember when you (blah blah blah)” but instead declaring “Hey, this is when you (Blah Blah’ed)…it sure looks fun!” Face is saved and confusion is minimized. Simpler…
- Look for the easy answer before the harder one– The Caliber, out of the blue after fixing the pulley issue, had a check engine light appear. Sigh… It even chugged a little when it was idling. I started simple again. I went to O-O-O, O’Reilly…. Auto Parts (Yeeeaoooow!) and had them put their little diagnose on the car to see what was going on. It came back that it had a large evap leak. Cliff’s Notes for those of us (including me that are not car people)…that means the emissions area is doing something weird. The guy said it could be as complex as a leaked in one of a million hoses or it could be as simple as a gas cap that isn’t sealing any more. I went simple…and it seems to have completely fixed my dilemma! $15 gas cap sure beats a smoke test from a larger repair place that would have likely soaked me. Loved one showing signs of dementia? Start simple. Don’t freak out until the time for freaking. Talk to the doc. There are LOTS of thing that are treatable that look and quack like a dementia duck. Cross those off the possibilities list first. 🙂 There are many of these duck imposters…much more than the link showed. Simpler!
- Know when to fold’em and know when to run.- (This is a hard one) Cutting your losses is a good in cars. Continuing to flush money into the same old car toilet is soooo easy to do. This is especially the case if you have a personal connection to the car. Bonus note: do NOT name your car. Just don’t. I know it is fun and quirky, but it will load you, like me, into flushing money down the car toilet to save “her”. Emotions are God-given. They can trick us sometimes. Guard your heart. In caregiving for a loved one with dementia, treat your loved one just the opposite of my car advice. 🙂 Never give up. Soak in every minute, remembering the good times and keeping the less good on the back burner. However, sometimes simpler things are better than complex in, say, keeping them safe. You do not necessarily need a $1000 security system when childproof door handles, bells on door knobs, and a million more things like this will suffice just fine. Sometimes fancier tech is awesome and sometimes it is too hard to use. Find the balance and try it out very well before buying it. Simpler…
- Experts are often needed– I wish I was a car expert. There is soooo much they know that I don’t, and not knowing costs me sometimes when I try to wing it. My brother and I, about 30 years ago, replaced a spring on the fuel injector with a door spring in a car I had. We did this because it was sticking open. What that means is when you push in the gas, it went, but when you let off the gas, it stayed going just as fast, like its cruise control was on. Having a sticking cruise control isn’t a big deal…just don’t use it and/or remove the fuse. However, when the gas sticks and you have to stop against it…or turn off the car to stop, it is pretty unsafe. 🙂 We should have taken it to the expert…but money was tight. Heck, I also wish I was a dementia expert. I know a lot about dementia, but there are a million things to know and my brain is so full of 80s song lyrics and Cardinals baseball stats that there is limited room. I lean on the experts. I call the 1-800-272-3900 help line when I have any question, day or night, and you should too.
- Take it one day at a time- My cars are bad, more often than not. However, I don’t let their badness stress me out. I fix what I can, I prepare as best I can, and I replace them when I must. I always have a plan of what to do should it be necessary, but I don’t fret. Every day is a new adventure… Friends, treat your caregiving that way too. I write about that all the time. Here are a couple of examples: LINK and LINK. Here is a verse that reminds us of the value of not pre-worrying: ““Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” -Matthew 6:34 Simple, simple, simple…
I hope this didn’t sound like an over-simplification. I know things are hard. I know we are all facing complexity that makes our heads rattle. I am with you. Keep doing your best to keep it simple where you can. Things will get better and some sweet day there will be a cure and we will finally #EndALZ
Update: Mom was about the same yesterday. She is “thriving” in a quieter room although I am certain she also deeply misses her roomier in her own brain-hindered way. Her eyes still struggle here and there and I feel like she prefers to keep them closed because it is easier and it is less stressful. I hope to see her again tonight and will give you an update 🙂