A Caregiver’s Story
For several years, Taylor took care of her mother, Rebecca, who had Alzheimer’s Disease. Taylor made sure that her mother was fed, bathed and dressed, had her medical needs met, and took part in activities she enjoyed. Caregiving was a 24/7 responsibility.
When Rebecca passed away, a close friend said kindly, “Taylor, you are a saint. You took excellent care of your mother for such a long time.” Taylor, however, smiled at her friend and said “This wasn’t about being a saint. Sure, it was stressful to be responsible for my mother’s needs and it was heartbreaking to see her decline. But in the end, I felt that having the opportunity to care for my mom was a gift for me.”
Caregiving: A Gift
Taking care of a person who has a disability is critically important. Providing meals, grooming, medical care, therapy and companionship make an enormous difference in the quality of the “caree’s” (the loved one or client) life. What is not as obvious is the impact of caregiving on the caregivers themselves. Caregiving is stressful, time consuming and costly, but it can also be the source of satisfaction, selflessness…and a gift.
How to See Caregiving as a Gift
Each caregiver sees the positive in different ways. However, there are some general guidelines for focusing on how caregiving enriches lives.
- Notice the positive moments: Focus on the times your caree can’t explain why he is agitated, but you figure out what he needs and make him comfortable; the times when you enter the room and your caree breaks into an ear-to-ear smile; the times that you help your loved one enjoy a lovely spring day or reminisce about his childhood.
- Feel their love and appreciation: Focus on the ways your caree gives and receives a hug, delights in a favorite cupcake you take to her, or uses words and gestures to say how special you are in her life.
- Think about your relationship: Are you “giving back” to a parent who cared for you throughout your life? Are you establishing a new bond with a loved one by using words, gestures or just being nearby? Are you getting to know a person with their own unique personalities?
- Celebrate your abilities: Recognize and congratulate yourself for being able and willing to take on caregiving. Not everyone can do this. You can and did!
After months or years of providing support, the caregiver can look back on having contributed to a loved one’s healthier and more satisfying quality of life. What greater gift can the caree and the caregiver receive?
Would you like help with caregiving? Contact Dr. Cheryl Greenberg at TheAgeCoach@gmail.com