Are You a Caregiver?
Since we now live longer, many of us are caring for sick and aging family members. But who’s caring for the caregivers? Who’s meeting their needs? If you are a caregiver, here are a few things you must learn to do for yourself. First, ask for help. John Donne wrote, ‘No man is an island.’ Reaching for help may feel awkward at first, but keep doing it and you’ll develop a comfort level. Start by listing all the areas in which your loved one needs help. Be specific: household chores, transportation, personal finances, bathing, dressing, etc. When you get a ‘no’ don’t take it personally, just look elsewhere. There are people all around you who are just waiting to be asked, people who find joy and fulfilment in serving. Second, get connected. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Take advantage of the resources in your church, community programmes, support groups, senior citizen centres and the internet. Involve your family, as well as your friends and neighbours. The Bible says, ‘A person standing alone can be… defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better...’ (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT) Thirdly, remember that you’re human; God does! Don’t feel bad about feeling bad. God is ‘tender and compassionate… For He knows how weak we are.’ (Psalm 103:13–14 NLT) Focusing on someone else’s needs to the exclusion of your own seems noble, but it also sets you up for guilt, anger, depression and burnout. Your emotions influence your physical health, so giving yourself permission to ‘feel your feelings’ not only enables you to stay healthy, but also ensures you’ll stay around to be a compassionate and able caregiver.