Caregiving is Difficult…
…and there are no quick tips to make the load lighter. I think of caregiving as a marathon, rather than a sprint. This isn’t meant to freak you out. It’s to remind you that it isn’t going to be easy.
You’ve got this! #RoguesAreReady.
Some Not-Quick Considerations:
- If you are reading this, be willing to acknowledge that you are a caregiver. I wish I’d realized this earlier in the journey. As a spouse, I don’t think I wanted to consider the extent of the physical problems Tony was experiencing. I think we were both just trying to avoid the realization that his health was beginning to decline. Our journey was ‘a one-way train ride’ as an ER doctor would tell us later. Post-transplant it’s still a ‘one-way train ride’ – as it is for all of us.
- Acknowledge your caregiving role so you can start getting connected to your support systems. You will need them. And you will need them to be responsive. This is where there’s no quick fix. Caregiving is a matter of setting up your daily systems to actively support you. To me, there are 2 main categories of support:
- On-line: We live semi-rurally, so getting into town for caregiver support and events was a non-starter. I set up my Facebook feed so that caregiving pages and groups were consistently available. We have a few local agencies I followed, as well as The Caregiver Space. This is a great online resource for caregivers both through their Facebook page and their website. It’s worth checking out their blog and the forums.
- IRL (In Real Life): Support can come from government programs, family and friends. It’s important that you learn how to determine and communicate your needs when things are less complicated.
- Self-care is critical and sometimes seems impossible. The comments in the image below are taken from Facebook comments under an article about the importance of self-care for caregivers. Our society doesn’t really acknowledge the importance of the physical, emotional and financial strain of caregiving. The sooner you can acknowledge to yourself that you are a caregiver and take pro-active steps to cultivate your support networks, the less time (hopefully) you’ll spend at the end of your rope, and the healthier you’ll be in body, mind and bank account. I was heartened to see these 2 comments on the Facebook thread, because many caregivers get to this point and still say nothing.
Read The 2nd Comment Again
Every time I read this, I can feel where this caregiver is because I’ve been there. And it’s not fun. But in her frustrated, tired and angry words there is hope. She has people – and they probably do notice. And I hope that she can notice, too. Her people may not know what to do because they need to be asked to help with specific, short-term tasks.
Sit Down With A Friend
If you can take on your identity as a caregiver early enough, you can sit down (with a friend, even) and come up with a list of tasks that you’re taking on more and more as your caregiving role expands. For heaven’s sake, don’t minimize what you’re doing. Anything that involves organizing medical appointments or dealing with the government is going to take you more than 10 minutes. Nothing is ‘just a quick call’. Think about how you can streamline household and medical tasks on the list and ask for small bits of help from friends. How can you turn some tasks into a social event with friends? If you can’t often get out, can you have people over? No time to call people – why not put requests out on Facebook?
To me, the key to smoother sailing through your caregiving role is to look for your helpers and ask for help. Keep asking and keep looking for solutions because your helpers are out there.
I help small businesses and organizations with HR Training and Policy/Procedure work.
Latest posts by Beth Campbell Duke (see all)
- #TransplantRogues: We Need Your Input! - May 7, 2017
- Our Transplant Reality - January 5, 2017
- #LikeARogue: How To Support Bill C-316 – Organ Donors - November 3, 2016