Caregivers need care too! Anybody that has been a caregiver to an elderly parent or loved one knows that it can be an all-consuming task that leaves one weary and in need of renewal. I’ve said before that caregivers are superheroes and I continue to believe that.
As I’ve mentioned before, my father was placed in a facility just after Christmas last year. He had declined both physically and mentally enough that my mother, who is almost-80 herself, simply could not keep up with the supervision and care that he was requiring. She had gotten to a place where she felt that she could not leave him alone and it was a struggle to deal with the 24 hour being-on-duty nature of his needs.
He not only needed her to help him physically at times, but depended on her totally for her company. She could not interest him in watching anything on TV if she did not sit there and watch with him. He had lost the capacity to sit and read due to his memory issues (could not keep up with the plot and the characters in a story) so that option was out; and he did not latch on to books-on-tape (maybe to new fangled for him, I don’t know). Suffice it to say that she was his world and her world was shrinking because of his care needs.
Since my Dad has moved into the nursing facility, my mother has made it her mission to visit him twice daily and spend time with him having devotions in both the morning and the evening. This is something very meaningful for him and she makes the effort to be there. Fortunately, the facility is just up the block and takes her only about 5 minutes travel from door to door.
So even though my father is not living at home with my mother any longer and the day-to-day issues of supervision and physical assistance have been eliminated, she still seems to have much on her plate. Not only the visits, but now she is fully in charge of having to take care of everything else as well. The finances, cars, house, etc.
So in order to get away from it all for a few days, she came to our home for a 3 night visit. My Dad was left in the good hands of the facility and planned visits from my sister and brother for those several days.
During her visit, Mom was able to have a leisurely morning just sitting, drinking coffee and reading her book. She had a chance to have somebody else worry about meals. She did not have to plan her day around 2 visits to my father. She napped each afternoon, had cappuccino afterwards (thanks to my personal barista, my husband) and went to bed when she was tired. We watched a movie together and laughed through an old sitcom that we both used to enjoy years ago. We sat on the patio and watched the birds, trying to determine where we thought they would build their nest (not sure we got those guesses right…..still watching).
In other words, she relaxed! And I like to think that when she left on Monday morning, she felt just a little bit rejuvenated for doing the daily things back home. Having the time away would even give her new things to tell Dad about!
This need for escape and the opportunity to relax made me think of the old commercial for bath bubbles: ‘ Calgon, Take Me Away’…….We all have a need for our Calgon moments. If you are a care giver and need a break, ask other family members to help you out. If there is nobody that can help you nearby, seek out a facility that provides ‘respite’ care or contact local agencies that could provide 24 hour care for a few nights so that you can get away. You’re worth it!!
Taking care of yourself is every bit as important as taking care of your loved one. Without you, who would they have? And if you are in a position to help a care giver get a break from the day-to-day, offer your help. In fact, don’t just offer, set up a date for it to happen (or you and I both know it won’t). Even if it is just providing companionship for several hours while the care giver gets out of the house you will have given them the sustaining break that they may need.
Remember, ‘You Deserve a Break Today’ (in staying with slogans)! Do it for yourself. Or, give the gift of a break to somebody you know who needs one.
On the journey with you…….Kathy