A new stage of life: Becoming a caregiver!

There are many whom we love, but not all of us are willing to become a caregiver to them. Since I became a caregiver, that distinction interests me. I do understand the urge to avoid taking time out of your own life to be available to help a loved one, but I believe the main reason many of us do not choose to become caregivers is because of the sometimes confusing emotional demands of keeping a loved one going from day to day. Sure most would offer to pick up some groceries or provide other services to their Mom or Dad or sibling, but what about the activities of daily living? What about managing their prescriptions for them or helping them cleanse themselves?

My sister Diane, John and me around 1957 or 1958…

After years of training in emotional caregiving, I am now called to use that training in service to my brother John. My greatest fear at first was to overstep his boundaries by offering more help than he wanted or needed. Just this past week I realized that he so appreciates anything I do for him as his energy and memory continue to fail him. For example, I learned that he can no longer manage his prescriptions and take his drugs on time. I didn’t notice that until he stopped taking his thyroid med and he had all the problems related to that including fatigue, brain fog and severe depression. I got him back on that med as soon as I realized what was going on.

It feels like a lot of responsibility to manage someone else’s life, but I love my brother and I want him to feel better. I can’t imagine not helping him at this point in time. He says he would never go into assisted living or some other care setting like that, so I will continue to help him as best I can.

Here are a few things I have learned about being a caregiver:

Caregivers value and appreciate help from others.

Caregivers take into account their own needs, the persons being cared for, and the other family members involved.

They respect other people’s opinions.

They appreciate the strengths and positive attributes in others and themselves.

They understand that caring for another person consists of letting that person make their own choices without ultimatums.

They wait to be asked for advice.

They are enthusiastic about their role as a caregiver.

They are empathetic and feel love towards the person they are caring for.

They don’t take other person’s words or actions personally.

This is not a job I ever expected to find myself in. I do know it requires patience, compassion, attentiveness, dependability and trustworthiness. I can do that. In fact I cannot imagine not doing it. I just appreciate even more that I’m here to help.

Random Acts of Kindness From Family

Mom and DadEver since my parents health began to fail a few years ago, my sister Diane and her husband John have pulled most of the weight. My parents have stayed at their home in Denver for long periods of time when they needed special medical assistance. You see, Diane has an amazing network of friends and acquaintances in elder care.

Diane and John in backyardMy big sister just happens to be a national expert in elder and long-term care. She knows medicine and care giving!   As my brother John quipped recently,                               “It’s like she’s been training her whole life for this job!”

This past March my sister helped my parents move to Denver from rural New Mexico, no small job. Mike and I were in the midst of building our home here and needed to stick around. I so appreciate my sister for going so far beyond the call of duty in keeping my parents safe and happy. I told her so recently in a thank you note.

I have had some experience in care giving with a veteran husband who sometimes suffers from CFS, and a brother who also needs help at times. But John and Diane are the heroes in our family. This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for them!

Do you know a caregiver who could use a little help?  Please go watch this short AARP video about their “Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers” Campaign and then go see how you can lend a hand to a caregiver you know!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Element Associates and Midlife Boulevard.