The Honest Trust
The life of a caregiver is not an easy one. We must endure and get accustomed to many different things each and every day. Trust me, it’s not always pretty some of the things we must deal with. We learn to deal with what comes our way and accept that something is broken, and we must try and keep it together.
How can caregivers help?
I learned years ago to dig deep inside myself and ask what can I do better in this situation? You have love for that person because they will put you through a lot. In my situation, I’m looking after a loved one that has been in my life since day one and I have great fond memories of them.
Sometimes our world gets small, but we’re still a part of it. We must go sometimes where we don’t want to. It can be hard, lonely, frustrating, and it's easy to feel anger. Try not to let these emotions destroy you. What we do is beautiful, and we realize that the person we are taking care of is mortally wounded. Can you imagine their suffering and what they are going through mentally and physically? We are both searching for healing. As caregivers, we don’t always have the answers to another person problem. We can’t take their pain away.
Your frame of mind matters
I spoke to a caregiver recently who said she is tired, grumpy, and feels like she’s not appreciated. She cares for her elderly mom who she loves dearly but has become almost angry and unconcerned towards her. As she was telling me her story, I could see the pain in her eyes. She had family members who didn’t lift a finger to help her and children of her own to take care of. She didn’t go out because she just didn’t have the time. And on top of everything else; her mother was mean to her. How do you get past this? She is so resentful right now.
I had to look at my situation and find the value in what I do. I show patience, kindness, and will always guard my parents. I know my self-awareness and I will always make intelligent decisions on their part, but I also know I could have negative values which I try to stay away from. I know this might sound selfish, but I have to make sure I am number one. I must always be in the right frame of mind.
Things to do if you're overwhelmed
- Stay connected with family and friends
- Get out and enjoy life for a minute
- Take care of your health, rest, and relax
- If there is no one in your family to help, look for volunteer companions
- Talk to other caregivers -- none are perfect
- Set small goals, don’t lose yourself as a caregiver
- Have health goals; get enough sleep and eat healthy
- Stay focus on what’s in front of you
- If you have a career, keep it strong
As a caregiver, we are taken for granted and no one recognizes our value or what we do. The sad thing is that there are millions of baby boomers coming of age and the field for caregivers will be massive. This job is demanding and stressful.
Don’t judge yourself harshly if you make a bad decision in caregiving. Focus on all the good you have done or have unpleasant thoughts. If you happen to snap at your loved one, don’t be hard on yourself. Just remember, yes, I did do that; step back and take a deep breath and think about something you are grateful for.
It's about supporting your loved one
Does it matter if you didn’t get to wash dishes today or make up the beds? No, it doesn’t. My mom likes looking at the TV all day and my dad likes listening to gospel music all day. They are both in the same room and everything is very loud. Can you imagine this in your ear all day; and they always keep their house at 100 degrees in the winter and the summer? I endure this.
I’m thrilled to be with them and seeing that they are happy, well fed, clean, and content. What matters is that you are there with that person talking, laughing, and spending quality time with them. I’m so blessed to have parents that are 85 and wouldn’t give this up for anything.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?