Caregiving can be both challenging and demanding and take a toll on the caregiver. Holly shares some tips on how to survive the journey with a good attitude and an appreciation for life!
In the last three years I have found myself in the role of caregiver twice. The first time was with my husband who was hospitalized five times in the span of a year and a half due to his extremely high blood pressure. There was a period of time that he was on ten medications and spent most of the day sleeping. Thankfully, his health care providers eventually were able to stabilize his blood pressure and he is in relatively good health now.
The second time was over the course of this past year when my mom’s health deteriorated. She started to lose the feeling in her hands and feet and we had concerns for her safety. My husband and I moved in with her this past spring to help care for her. Her condition necessitated surgery, followed by several months of recovering in a rehab facility. She is home and learning to walk again and I have found myself in the role of “caregiver” again.
Since many of my friends are also acting as caregivers either to a parent/s, an adult child who may have addiction or mental health issues, or even a grandchild, I wanted to share my “caregiving truths”!
10 Truths About Being A Caregiver
1. It’s Never Going To Be Fair
No matter how many siblings or relatives you have, someone is always going to be carrying the brunt of the load. Expecting it to be 50/50 or even close to that is unrealistic. The best thing you can do is concentrate on what you can do and hope that others step up.
2. No One Likes A Martyr
This was a big lesson for me. No one wants to hear how much you’ve sacrificed or how you are doing it all! When you hear yourself saying these things, it’s time to step away and really evaluate why you are acting as a caregiver. You cannot give love or receive it when you are acting like a martyr!
3. You Need To Face Your Feelings
Sometimes we are feeling things and we don’t even know it. A “feeling” just creeps up and we know it doesn’t feel right but we act on it. Anger, resentment, sadness, fear, are all common emotions in the role of a caregiver. What worked for me was journaling every day and then seeing what feelings came up and addressing them. I always say “you can’t fix it until you face it”.
4. Ask For Help!
Don’t try to do it alone. If you feel too tired or stressed to visit your mom in the rehab ask a friend if they would go for an hour or two so you get a break. If you have siblings, try to break up the duties so someone handles the finances, someone handles the medical issues and someone handles other aspects of care. When my husband was sick I often had food delivered, asked my son to pick up prescriptions and even had friends get groceries.
5. Don’t Take It Personally!
When people you love are in pain or sick they often say things out of frustration or anger. Do not take it personally. Remember, they are scared and may be depressed and often lash out at the nearest person.
6. Practice Excellent Self Care!
This is one of the most important lessons I can share. Make sure you take care of yourself. Eat healthy, meditate, read inspirational books, and get enough sleep. I am really into podcasts and webinars that inspire me and I listen to something every morning before I start my day.
7. Put Yourself On The Calendar!
Just like you schedule all the doctors appointments and other appointments for the person you are taking care of, make sure you put yourself on the calendar. One day a week do something that you love to do. Meet a friend for lunch or dinner, go to a movie, spend time with your spouse, etc. Remember, you need a break so put it on the calendar and schedule coverage so you don’t miss it.
8. You Need To Get Outside!
Being a caregiver is often confining. Often times you are in the home and feel closed in. Every day make sure you get outside. Even if it’s fifteen minutes of meditation or reading in the backyard or patio. Take a walk down the street and if possible take the person you are caring for with you. Nothing like fresh air and a blue sky to make you feel better.
9. Give Yourself An Hour A Day!
I stuck to this rule every day and it really helped me face the day. I always spent the first hour of my morning having a healthy breakfast with my coffee and something inspiring to read or listen to online. I feel this is so important for getting centered and ready to face the day. If morning is not doable, then maybe schedule an hour when the person you are caring for takes a nap. One hour makes all the difference.
10. Have Gratitude!
Even though being a caregiver can be hard and challenging, I find so much in the situation to be grateful for. The fact that I was able to give love and care to my husband and now my mother. The fact that they are both still here in my life. The fact that I have an opportunity to be of service and to be loving and kind. The fact that I have been able to get support from so many wonderful people and in turn have been able to support them when they needed it.
The role of caregiver has strengthened me in so many ways and given me the ability to grow and have appreciation for life in a new way. I hope that my “10 Truths About Being A Caregiver” will resonate with those of you that find yourself in a similar situation. My wish is that you find something helpful that will make your life just a bit easier on your caregiver journey.
Are you now or have you ever been a caregiver? What was your journey like? Please share in the comments below.
About the Author:
Holly Zucker is a wife, mother of a grown son, business owner and on the “Road to Reinvention”. After feeling like she had “lost herself” she has spent the last few years bringing back joy, pleasure, passion, fun, and community into her life. Her mission is to help other women “reinvent themselves” and start living their dreams and desires. We’ve done so much for everyone else, it’s our turn now! Make sure you follow Holly on Facebook at Holly at the Road to Reinvention.