Caregiving is Care + Giving
How to View the Caregiving Role
Caregiving is well-said. A caregiver is indicative of the phrase, caregiver. A caregiver is giving care. Without the “care” there would only be giving of assistance. Without the “giving” there would only be caring but no action. It takes both “care” and “giving” for a caregiver to be care-giving.
These days I am helping my folks in ways I was not doing even two years ago. Two years ago I was stepping it up, helping out with cleaning, bringing a hot home-cooked meal for my folks once a week, and I was completing small chores here and there. Then physical challenges came to both my folks within weeks of each other. My siblings and I became actively involved in their care at that point.
A new skill set was developed with these necessary changes. The challenges were assorted, interesting, and important. (I choose to not list them out.) As caregivers, my siblings and I were stretched in new ways and drew closer in other ways. My family worked together, which was a precious gift to us all.
One of the areas that makes this challenging is the uncertainty of what is ahead. Week by week, we take it as it comes. You never know what is next during the care-giving years. Doctor visits, hospital stays, and rehab are part of the new routine you now live. One learns to accept this (for the most part).
What I can guarantee are the commonalities. What you can expect:
- Role reversal is eminent. You will have to assume the lead at some point. Things have a way of working themselves out.
- It’s not going to be easy. There are many diverse hills to climb. Frustration is likely.
- Safety and their personal welfare becomes your main concern.
- You will get some push-back, how much depends on you, how you handle it, and them, how they handle it.
- Plateaus come and go, a progression of decline is to be expected. Denial won’t help you or them. What will help them and you is a “looking to the good” positive attitude.
- You will have to do what you’d rather not do. Accept it, don’t resist it. You will be challenged, but that’s okay.
Although this blog is not the place to say much about the caregiving venue, it is good to say some. None of us are super human, and we do the best with what we’ve been given. We also need each other for practical, encouraging support.
The deal is, we need someone to talk it through and to bounce ideas off. My sister who lives locally is the person I go to the most. My cousin and a close friend also help me because they’ve walked this caregiving journey and know the ropes. I learn from them, and it helps tremendously.
Some areas have formulated in my mind and give me parameters for care-giving:
- My goal is to make my parents happy as much as I can.
- I find ways to make it easier on all of us as much as I can.
- I believe in the dignity of the individual and strive to do this as much as I can.
- I am an advocate for my folks. I maintain my limits when necessary and as much as I can.
- It takes a village. We’re all on a team to do right by our folks and will do so as much as we can.
- We need to listen as caregivers, support each other, and trust our instincts as much as we can.
It’s not easy. Because of love and care, we will do what needs to be done, and employ wisdom as to the choices and challenges that come with this role. There’s no room for drama or selfishness. One must be realistic and flexible in it all.
What makes me happy in this role are the warm fuzzies that come with special moments. There are many bright spots when you look for them. The times we share are precious. Some day they will fade and we will miss them. My parents were good parents to us. I suppose the story might be different or more challenging if they had been hard on us.
I still look forward to the sweet times. They come often. The key to this vision of life as it is now, comes when we look at what we still have and stop looking at what they’ve lost. I’m not very good at this, but I do know it is the best way. Look for what makes them happy and they still enjoy, and then join them in doing it as often as you can.
Here are my bright spots.
- I like it when mother and dad enjoy a meal that I’ve cooked. They’re appreciative and say so.
- I like it when Dad tells me a story from his past that I’ve never heard before. These are delightful.
- I like it when I read to my mother one of my blogs, from the bible, a letter she’s received, or a devotional. She listens, smiles, and reacts at all the right places. She tracks with the stories, which is a surprising joy.
- I like it when Dad dries the dishes while standing next to me, right after I wash them. This happens almost every time I cook a meal at their home. We have rich conversations and I learn more about his life each time.
- I like it when Dad prays. He often prays a phrase I particularly like, “We thank you for your everlasting love.” I just love that!
- I like it when Mother visibly brightens when I enter her room. She’s glad to see me, and I’m glad to see her. I give her a hug.
The joy of caregiving are those shared moments of joining. I wish you well on your caregiving journey, if that’s where you are living at the moment. You will get frustrated but that’s part of it. You will also be blessed and that’s the joy of it. God bless you, my friends.