No One Taught Me To Be A Caregiver, but I Learned
I was never trained to take on these responsibilities and ill-equipped to do so initially. It's been two years since Daddy's passing and I still have not had a vacation. I have however learned to pace myself and am accepting the fact that I am not unbreakable and have learned to accept help from others.
As our parents live longer lives, many of us will one day become caregivers. It is a tough job and it will interrupt our own lives, but we accept the responsibility out of love and compassion. My advice for those in this position is this:
Learn to put yourself first. This is essential and is not selfish. If you are exhausted or frustrated, you cannot be a good caregiver. Nor can you be there for anyone else if you become ill. Get plenty of rest. Exercise regularly to reduce stress and eat a healthy diet. A strong and healthy you will make this situation much easier to bear.
Ask for help! I cannot stress this strongly enough. Gather information. Consult local agencies. There are many available, just ask. As the problem of dementia and Alzheimer's increases, more and more community outreach resources have become available. Do start by contacting the Alzheimer's organization. You can attend free classes and will they can provide good information to help you cope.
Join a support group. Burdens are always lessened when they are shared. You are not alone.
Develop a hobby. You may not believe you have the luxury to do this, but you must. Even a short few minutes of the day doing something you enjoy can do wonders to renew your spirit.
Pray! Whatever your faith may be, spend some moments each day in prayer or meditation. If you are a non-believer, then just spend a few moments of each day outside and appreciate that there is a whole wide world much out there much more vast than your own problems. Delight in that wonder.
Finally, just put one foot in front of the other. Instead of worrying incessantly, only deal with the most crucial issue at hand. It does no good to worry about the future, and the past is over so let it go. Focus on the remaining time you have to share with a loved one. Time goes by far too fast. And if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, contact me and I will be glad to share your burden with words of encouragement. I am happy to pay it forward because others have lightened my load.
Susan and Bentley (my loving Yorkie)
Photo Credit: photon_de.