Welcome to Caregiver Friday!
As some of you may know there was no post last Friday because I was out of town with no access to a computer. But today we’re going to talk about the importance of having a life while you are providing care for someone who is injured or ill.
There are many characteristics of the caregiver role and one of them should never be martyr. If you’re going to be a martyr make it for some extraordinary cause, but don’t use caregiving as that vehicle. I can tell you from personal experience having worked with hundreds of caregivers, martyrs are turn-offs. When you take that victim role you isolate yourself by driving away those who could support you in your efforts. So what are you to do?
First and foremost don’t abandon your own life!!!!! Yes, you are going to have to make modifications to your schedule, but surgically removing every morself of what was your life leaves you depleted and you need to keep your fuel tank full. In order to make that happen consider some of the following ideas: Check and see if your insurance coverage provides for respite care (some actually do and hospice definitely provides respite); hire someone to come in if the person you’re caring for needs constant attention ( I understand that not everyone can afford this but social service organizations or senior centers, if the person is a senior, sometimes have funds to cover the cost); ask other caregivers that you meet at meetings and support groups and find out how they attain respite care. Those ideas are to help you get out of the house.
If you’re in the house a fair amount of time find ways to nurture your soul. The first rule, just like when you have a baby in the house, when the patient sleeps you should get some sleep, or at least rest. Set up a phone circle with friends and family to reduce your sense of isolation. If you have a faith practice, engage members of your faith community to provide support, company, even a meal or two.
Keep your interests alive and well. Carve out time during the day to do something you love. Read a book, scrapbook, knit, paint, play the piano (music has great healing properties). Setting boundaries around your own sacred time is important.
The only way to be an effective caregiver without feeling isolated, angry and resentful is to maintain aspects of your life prior to caregiving. Be creative in how you achieve these goals. I’d love to hear how some of you have carved out a life under these new conditions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you choose to receive the information at http://www.survivingstrong.com, you’ll receive e-mails that will get you thinking about how to improve your life in the caregiver role and even an opportunity for free support.
Time is precious and a perishable commodity. Don’t waste time wallowing in pity…it doesn’t help you or the patient. Caregiving is not a prison sentence; it’s an act of love, compassion and selflessness-all hard things to be acknowledged for in our culture. Let me be the first to say THANK YOU!!