“I’m glad I took care of my dad. And if I had to do it all over again I would. I would just do so many things differently.”
There is a remarkable truth behind caregiving …anyone who’s ever been one understands what someone else is going through. Our story seemed to be cut from the same cloth – the fatigue, the loneliness, the uncertainty, the grief, the guilt, the depression, and the exhaustion.
So is it no wonder that caregivers burnout? And in this day and age when technology is supposed to “connect” us, where is everyone?
Do caregivers really look for help?
Our church is coming around to help? How about adult daycare? Can we afford assisted living? Or memory care? Do we feel guilty by putting a loved one in a nursing home?
Why? These are supposed to be the very organizations which can help us?
Because we know that caregiving means doing what’s best for our loved one and we forget to separate the fact that our opinion is not everyone else’s.
One opinion is our own. That we want what’s best for mom whether that be a nursing home, assisted living, independent living; getting them safely out of their homes which is too much of a burden for them anymore or having them move in with us. We have the best intention.
And caregivers sometimes feel guilty moving their loved ones out of one pace and into another. They feel like they are disrupting their lives. So, if guilt is the emotion, the next thought is, “I don’t want to burden anyone else with this.”
I was talking to a young man the other day who was already burned out at the ripe age of 28. His mother in law had come to live with him and his wife and there are two small children aged two and four.
He felt he had no time to be with his wife. And the minute he got home from work his mother-in-law told the kids to “go play with daddy” so she and her daughter could take the evening off.
He felt he needed to do this he couldn’t let his children down who had been waiting for him all day.
Now he brought his mother-in-law down to Florida so that she could be taken care of. She was lonely where she lived up north. And she had no friends or family up there anymore and his wife is an only child.
So their caregiving started fairly early. Not that he really needed to take care of his mother in law, but she needed social care.
When I asked him what his exit strategy was he didn’t have one.
How he could find her friends in the new area. How she might want to get a job and get out of the home?
No, he told me, said there was no forethought and there was no planning. Besides, he said, now that she was living in his home, enjoying her family, why would she want a job?
Believe it or not, there are caregivers that do not burnout. I know you don’t want to hear this. But there is a way to get out from under where you’re headed. It’s finding the people to help you. Don’t hold it in until you’re so frustrated you blow up at everybody who loves you.
At Caregiver Haven we talk about you looking for the support you need BEFORE YOU NEED IT.
And it’s not about just asking somebody to help you. It’s being very specific. Caregivers can be their own worst enemy. This young man was beginning to NOT like his mother-in-law. So he assumed no one else would want to be around her or be friends with her and here he goes again — GUILT! “I can’t ask anyone else to help her. That would be mean.”
Get out of your own way…
As I mentioned in the Caregiver’s Starter Guide and the Ultimate Caregivers Guide Toolkit and, in many of the emails and checklists I send out to you, we talk about finding that support system and not being afraid to ask them for what you need.
“But Suzanne my mom won’t let anybody else take care of her.”
Again, I didn’t say get support for what your mother wants or what your loved one wants. I said get support for what YOU need.
And then let everyone know, be fair and be transparent about this, that these are your needs and no, you are not being selfish. Other folks might LOVE being friends with your loved one, spending time hearing the stories, enjoying their company. It is selfish to hold this wonderful person only to yourself.
See your loved ones as the joy they have always been, the ones who supported you, the ones who were there for you and others.
THEN, you are simply asking others to enjoy the caregiving journey with you.
Hmm…this is a new way to look at things!