By Lisa Laney, MSW, CMC
“My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates…”
This line from Forrest Gump chimes a bell to those of us providing services to families involved in elder care…. and as the quote continues, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
As much as our culture appreciates and utilizes How-To books and YouTube videos for anything from how to do your own household repairs to how to scramble an egg, there is not a one-size-fits-all primer to prepare us for elder care. An additional stressor is that there is no crystal ball to predict the length of time nor the level of intensity required for us to be in this foreign & unique role of caregiver.
Each day in the caregiving world delivers a different flavor and sometimes multiple flavors in one day. How is the caregiver to treasure and taste the sweetness of being a care partner in the midst of so many unknowns?
Support Group – I cannot say enough about the benefit of attending the RIGHT support
Whew- Recognize some days are terribly hard, and that tomorrow is a new day
Education – Research your loved one’s disease process, learn what to expect
Exercise- You hear this all the time- It is true for your mental & physical health
Toast – Gratitude. Make time to find moments for which to be grateful
Never Say Never- Please do not promise your parent deliverables that you may not be able to deliver
Escape- Charging your batteries via time away is vital. Schedule & go on micro vacations
Sing Out Loud- Belt it out in the shower, sing anything (old jingles, carols) with your loved one
Solicit Help – Know that variety is good for you and your loved one, share the load
A few years into my practice, a lecture I attended had an ever lasting impact upon my perspective on caregiving. A daughter was describing the needs of her elderly mother and the duties required to support her at home. Many people provided her with sympathy, to which she quickly replied, “No, this is a gift to me, although the load is heavy and difficult, I am thankful to have had the opportunity”.
About the Author: Lisa has worked with the aging population in the healthcare system since 1988. She obtained her BSW from Appalachian State University and her MSW from UNC-CH with dual concentrations in Aging and Health.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.