Caregiving Revisited

Thank you to everyone who wrote comments about last week’s post ‘Are You A Caregiver?’ The people who commented provide insight for the rest of us. This is so important because many of us will become caregivers at one time or another. All of the comments came from women, not unusual since the majority of caregivers are women, a wife, daughter, daughter-in-law or friend.

It appears the caregivers are taking on this task out of love and friendship, whether you are tending to a spouse, parent, grandchildren or a friend. Our human connection is the impetus for our caring for others. For those of us who are married, we apparently take the vow of “in sickness and in health” seriously. We love our spouses, our children and grandchildren and even our friends. We honor the relationships by continuing to care for them in a time of need.

Most caregivers are engaging in some type of self-care to give themselves a break. Reading for relaxation, tai chi, yoga, painting, a long lunch with a spouse and writing all made the list. According to my research on several sites, breaks are very important for fending off stress. Other recommendations for breaks are taking a twenty minute walk, meditation or talking to a friend.

I personally find art to be very calming. Drawing in particular puts me in what I call ‘the zone’ where I am so focused on what I’m doing, all other thoughts are zoned out. It is meditative.

Carole, who commented about caring for her spouse with cognitive decline, also writes a blog. Carole and I have something in common — we both find writing about our experiences to be therapeutic. You don’t have to start a blog and put it out there for the world, but writing about your thoughts, feelings and daily life as a caregiver may ease your situation. A simple journal will do. I invite you to visit Carole’s site at: http://oneoflifeslittlesurprises.blogspot.com

While you are supporting someone else, it’s important for caregivers to develop their support system. Friends and other family members can become your first line of defense against stress. It’s important to ask for and accept help if you need it. Many of us don’t feel like we should ask for help.  We tell ourselves we can do it all. We can’t.

Donna’s comment reminded me of an article I read many years ago about baby boomers being the sandwich generation. The writer was using the analogy of a sandwich because many of my generation were still caring for children at home as well as aging parents. Donna pointed out the situation today where we may be caring for both grandchildren and aging parents. Now that our kids are adults, many of us are pitching in to care for their kids.

Like caregiving itself, comments ran the gamut of some assistance, such as going along on doctor’s appointments to occasional babysitting to full-time assistance handling every household chore as well as caring for loved ones. According to the Mayo Clinic it is the people committed to high hours of care who are in most danger of feeling stress and strain with this role. Mayo Clinic recommends the following:

1. Accept help and focus on what you are able to provide.

2. Set realistic goals and learn to say no to things which add strain, such as hosting holiday meals.

3. Get connected with community organizations supporting caregivers and stay connected with family and friends.

4. Take care of your own health including regular checkups and discuss your situation with your doctor.

I thank everyone who contributed to this post with their comments and insights. Please take a minute to read their comments and look at Carole’s blog.  Not everyone retired expecting to be in the role of caregiver.  Life sometimes spins us a curve ball.  We are all on a different journey but their journey may become our journey one day.

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9 comments on “Caregiving Revisited

  1. Interesting that all your comments are from women…where are the men? They are caregivers too…maybe they don’t read/write blogs….an interesting blog post would be interviews with both men & women who give care to others….

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    • Paulette, I hoped to hear from some men, but the majority of my readership is women. Statistically, most caregivers are women, so it may be a simple matter that none of my male readers are caregivers. Women in general have a longer lifespan than men and most women marry men older than themselves thus leading to women caregiving for ailing husbands instead of the other way around. K

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      • Yes, but there are shifting paradigms….parents providing caregiving for grandchildren and even for adult children…men opting to be stay-at-home care takers while wife/partner works…life spans change….and who knows maybe men will begin to read your blog….sooner not later….remember: ch…ch…ch…change….it happens!

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  2. My father-in-law was a caregiver to his wife until he could no longer handle it on his own. My mother-in-law has been in a nursing home now for almost 4 years, but every single day my f-i-l is there with her….from around 9 a.m. ’til visiting hours are over at 9 p.m.!

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  3. Another great post Kathy. You have provided great insight on a topic that is relevant to so many of us. I appreciate the recommendations you listed from the Mayo clinic. As caregivers, sometimes we get so focused on our responsibilities, that we can easily forget that we must take care of ourselves as well.

    We learn from each other, and the sharing that takes place on your blog is invaluable. It becomes part of our support system and can provide encouragement as we travel this road of retirement.

    Thanks for the mention of my blog! Much appreciated.

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  4. Hi, Kathy: Thank you for adding this second portion to your post on caregivers. It provides very useful and practical advice. As our longevity is increasing, and more couples are having their children a bit later in life, I believe that there are many of us who are caring for grandchildren at the same time that they are caring for aging parents. And as my husband is eleven years older than me, and is starting to have health issues, that may mean a ‘triple-decker sandwich’ analogy for me and others like me. Thanks again for your insightful post.
    Donna

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  5. I know most bloggers and blog readers are female and that is why your commenters are gals. My husband and I are enjoying retirement and are not caregivers, though I do volunteer at a retirement / dementia care home.

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