Giving and Receiving
Let’s talk about how hard it is to be a caregiver. Maybe those of you who have never had a child, assisted a sick friend, or watched your parent sink into dementia don’t understand the toll of caregiving, but for the vast majority of you there’s been at least an introductory taste.
Not all caregivers are caring for aging parents, but that’s the focus of this blog so we’ll stick with it. The statistics are staggering related to the number of family caregivers participating in some form of assistance for the elderly. Predominantly those caregivers are also working outside the home, dealing with their own children, trying to have some form of personal life, and shouldering care for their parents.
Lunch hours are spent on the phone trying to handle insurance mistakes or running to pick up prescriptions. Evenings are spent researching the latest technology to keep parents safe in their own homes. Weekends are taken up with grocery shopping, cleaning, or doing yard work for parents to feeble to continue to complete those chores themselves, but who wish to remain in their own homes.
One day the phone rings; mom’s fallen down the stairs and is in the Emergency Room. The doctor thinks it’s a broken hip. Maybe there’s knock on the door and a policeman standing their with your father looking sheepish: dad found the keys to his old car, decided to go for a drive and hit the stop sign on the corner, barely missing two young boys crossing the street at the crosswalk. You never know when the latest crisis is going to hit or how bad it’s going to be.
You give as much time as you can spare from your job, your own household duties, your children, your cuddle time with your husband. The kids wonder where you are. You know they are well taken care of but Sally, mother of your eight-year old’s best friend, seems to know your son better than you do. Your husband spends more time at the office and has withdrawn from conversation because all you talk about is the latest crisis involving your parents (or maybe his parents).
* Is this your life?
* Is this what you thought would happen when you agreed to look after your parents?
* Who’s helping you?
* When was the last time you had a decent eight hours of sleep?
* You have constant headaches and sometimes panic attacks. Why?
* The house looks like a cyclone hit it. When will you find time to straighten it up?
* Your boss wants you to take on some overtime. How will you fit it in?
If any of the above situations resonate with you there is a major problem in your life whether you are willing to admit it or not. The stress from your hectic and overwhelming situation is likely affecting your health, marriage, your family relationships, your income, and your concentration. Something has to shift or you’ll be the one who needs a caregiver. You’ve probably asked yourself these questions, or something similar, but coming up with a solution just seems too overwhelming so you just keep moving one foot in front of the other hoping for a change.
During the month of May this blog will focus on caring for the caregiver and offer suggestions on how you can make the situation more manageable within the structure of the daily tasks to be addressed. Until the next blog post think about how you’d like your life to look.
What are the areas where you need the most help?
How willing are you to loosen the reigns and turn over some of the control to others?
What tasks are you willing to let go of altogether?
As we explore these topics I’m going to ask for your input, support, and suggestions. Feel free to tell your story, ask questions, vent, or even provide solutions in the comments below.
If you know someone who might benefit from the things we’ll discuss over the next few weeks please feel free to share this blog with them.