Yes, I have a particular interest in caregiving these days. Perhaps because I fell into the role about eight months ago. And even in that short time I can attest to the devastating effects it can–NO, it does take on the caregiver’s life. At forty years old, a divorced, married, divorced, and married again mother of two, I’ve experienced my share of ups and downs and this, is, by far, the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to deal with.
But there’s good news!
President Obama declared November 2015 the first National Family Caregiver Month and the Internet is splattered with resources to help family caregivers, first take care of themselves, so that they are better prepared to take care of their loved one.
So for my Wellness Wednesday post, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve implemented in my life is to avoid burnout and live while I’m helping my sick loved one.
- Going to the doctor for myself. I’ve never been to so many doctor offices in my life. And that’s including my children’s’ well baby exams and impromptu urgent care visits. But once I realized that I needed to get involved with my husband’s medical care, I started attending every doctors’ appointments. Several months had gone by before I realized I hadn’t made time for my own annual physical!
- Make the most of my time. I’m a caregiver who also works a full time job. Since home is also a place of work–it kind of already was being a wife and mother–I tried to get as much done during my nine hours away from home. I try to write or read during my lunch time or other down time at work. I use breaks for exercising (.i.e. walking or hula hooping, stretching, or dancing).
- Have some fun. Honestly, it took me some time to not feel guilty when I had to get out and have some fun that didn’t involve my sick loved one. I felt like I was being selfish, leaving him home. But a light bulb went off in my head when I realized that when my loved could get out without me to enjoy himself, he did just that and didn’t appear guilty about in the least. So why wouldn’t I? Besides, whether sick or not, each of us only has one life to live. A caregiver can’t give theirs up completely because their loved one is sick.
- Pamper yourself. Hair appt. Manicure/pedicure. Massage. Facial. In caregiving, you’re doing all if not most of the giving. You must take time out to let someone do something for you. Minimum once a month.
- Pray/Meditate. This should be at the top of the list. God is a healer, a comforter, a way maker; your strength in times of weakness. EVERYDAY you must engage in time with Him. Start and end your day with thanksgiving and praise because, believe it or not, your situation could be worse.
(c) LaCharmine (L.A.) Jefferson 2015