Many are finding themselves taking on the arduous role of caretaker for a loved one. How many of us can lay claim to even a few of the qualifications that are necessary to do so?
My own experience involved caring for my 77-year-old husband who was diagnosed with a severe stroke, having a heart problem and the most stubborn personality. Never thought of myself as a caregiver, still working at real estate, and never thought of myself as a caregiver during the three years of devoting 24 hours, seven days a week to his care. According to the professionals, I was a caregiver without any training and understanding of what the job entailed.
Soon learned that caregiving was involved with every aspect of daily life. In short, it’s a crash course in life, love, and often, a loss for which most of us are never prepared. But it also was deeply rewarding because it requires us to draw upon our deepest, most compassionate, and often most loving selves.
During that time, I found that there were strategies that kept both of us going.
1. A positive attitude is often the most important ingredient.
2. Communication is key: essential to find respectful ways of communicating our needs, feelings, concerns, and frustrations.
3. Use available tools and resources: family, friends, neighbors, organizations to help support our daily physical/emotional needs.
4. Be open to change and let go of the outcome: be flexible and adaptive and it will often reduce stress of the situation.
5. Don’t spend unnecessary time going through the internet looking for answers. Just go to the experts, doctors, medical for guidance.
6. Be open to healthcare alternatives such as massage, hypnosis, holistic remedies.
7. Plan something simple to look forward to every day–a TV show, a walk around the park, a drive to a scenic location.
8. Take care of the caregiver—make some time for your self-care every week. Have a friend cover for you—I was going to the Tucson Opera.
9. Focus on the good things, no matter how small. Express gratitude whenever possible.
10. Remember that life will move forward and you have to learn how to weather the storm and how to dance in the rain.
Please feel free to reach out for help or just to talk. You can reach Esta Goldstein at 520-825-1181, or by email at [email protected] or Marilyn Sellers at 520-818-0965, or by email at [email protected]