Giving Thanks to Each Caregiver

Giving Thanks to Each CaregiverMany of us have reached an age where if we aren’t overwhelmed attending to our own health demands, we are busy taking care of aging parents or other ailing friends and relatives.Being a caregiver is a taxing physical and emotional roller-coaster where ones roles are reversed.

The list of tasks grows …downsizing homes, scouting assisted living facilities, balancing check books, filing tax returns, investigating financial investments, paying bills, understanding doctors’ visits and navigating the medical field as loved ones begin to struggle more with the challenges of aging.

Caring for our elders may be learned from example.

As a child, I watched my parents take care of their parents. Although my grandfather lived 2 hours away, my dad made sure Grandpa was with us for every family occasion. My mom helped my maternal grandma relocate from Baltimore and settle in Sterling, where she became a part of the smaller community.

With our mobile families, so much of the burden falls on the shoulders of the sibling living closest in proximity.

Giving Thanks to Each CaregiverUsing all the skills she developed during her career as a special education teacher, my sister now applies color-coding, list making and other techniques to help make life easier for my mom and dad. My sister-in-law made the same sacrifices in her family. She moved her mom and older sister from Chicago to Cleveland where she cared for them and certainly added years to her mom’s life.

Often times it is a thankless job especially when others assume that the caregiver will come to the rescue in any emergency. But caregivers have bad days too where they may feel ill, exhausted, and overwhelmed. A caretaker’s number one responsibility is taking care of his/herself. This can be difficult because by nature they are the most giving people on the planet. They have made putting others’ needs first an art form.

Not every family is like us and blessed with a guardian angel named Sue.

Here are just a few ways you can help share the burden and the gift of care giving.

  1. When it becomes easier and faster to perform tasks for the loved one try not to usurp their independence. Let them do as much as they are able.
  2. Help count and cut pills – use a pill dispenser.
  3. Keep records of medical procedures, medicines, and dosage times.
  4. Prepare medical questions ahead of time and take notes at doctor visits.
  5. Help seniors remain as active in the community as possible.
  6. Buy groceries, run errands, cook dinners ahead that can be frozen and reheated.
  7. Offer to help drive elders places even if only to go for a ride in the country.
  8. Share a meal, sit for a spell, slow down just be in the moment with them.

Giving Thanks to Each CaregiverIn today’s society where so many families are separated by distance, it is even more important to take steps to keep in touch. Enlist the help of children and grandchildren living far away. They can contribute by making phone calls, sending cards, and planning long weekend visits.

You don’t have to be in peak condition to offer aid. Some days I can’t do much to help even when I am physically right there. During those times when I am flat out on the couch, my dad resting in his recliner and mom snuggled in her armchair, I ask questions. My parents share invaluable stories of what it was like to grow up just after the Depression, during WWII and through the Civil Rights Movement. Or we reminisce and play the “remember when game” retelling the stories of favorite sporting events, family trips, and special occasions.

Repeating the stories of yesteryear brings no greater joy. Remember the best gift you can offer is your undivided attention.

By honoring our elders, we enrich our own lives.Giving Thanks to Each Caregiver

Like Julianne and Sue so many other caregivers deserve our gratitude and support as they provide an invaluable service to society.

Take time to make time to thank a caregiver today.

Comments

  1. Lynne Spreen

    Very helpful and informative, Pat. I was laughing with my husband recently about who exactly is the “Sandwich Generation.” I thought it was supposed to be the people with kids. Instead, it’s us. Helping the people with kids, and also helping our elders. A blessing, but also a challenge sometimes. Oh well. It makes life richer. Good tips. PS I tried to LIKE the post as myself but it defaulted to the writers’ guild I started. So Diamond Valley is me. 😉

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      Pat McKinzie

      Thanks Lynne. I thought of you too when I wrote this post since I still remember when you were babysitting your grandkids, caring for your mom and writing in between. Thanks for solving the mystery for me. I wondered who was behind the Diamond Valley writer’s guild.

  2. peppylady (Dora)

    Hello from Idaho and found your blog though Ramblin AM…I’m in a caregiver at this time my two client are mental ill, and need mainly superviousing. But having company is important and at times I’ve color with my clients. But if the state every found out they would cut back my hours. It pitty they don’t just don’t get it.
    If you fine the time stop in for a cup of coffee

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      Pat McKinzie

      Thanks for stopping by. Just keeping people company by chatting, coloring or just sitting side by side is so good for the soul. Keep up your great work caregiving.

  3. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Sad but true, Pat. As boomers, this is our life now. My parents are (knock on wood) remarkable as nonagenarians but I have been directly involved in the care of an aged relative. And now with a new grandchild, I am fully immersed in the circle of life.

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      Pat McKinzie

      Oh yes, we boomers are busy. It must be so poignant to be witnessing life so closely at both ends of the cycle. Congratulations on your new grandchild. You are going to be a phenomenal grandma.

  4. Debbie

    Some of us didn’t learn caregiving from our parents, Pat. I’ve had to walk my way blindfolded through the maze, and you’re right — it’s not easy. However, I don’t think I could look myself in the mirror if I didn’t do everything possible to take care of the mom who took care of me as a baby! Speaking for myself, one of the best things a caregiver can do is take care of themselves — time away now and then is crucial, and depending on the needs of the person being cared for, sometimes backup comes into play. Thanks for a well thought out post!

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      Pat McKinzie

      I can tell from your compassionate writing that you would be a you a wonderful caregiver even without having had an example to follow when you were growing up. As you said is absolutely imperative that a caregiver take care of him/her self because the work can be so exhausting at times. Your mom was so fortunate to have you looking after her in her later years.

  5. 1010ParkPlace

    Pat, I was caregiver to my mother, who died of dementia, a couple of years ago. I’m just now going through a mutual storage unit, donating/selling what I can. You’ve offered some great suggestions for those who haven’t been down this road. Thank you! Brenda

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      Pat McKinzie

      Brenda, the job of caring for a parent with dementia must be so difficult especially as you must have felt like you were losing her little by little. I should have mentioned the courage it takes to be a caretaker too. Your mother was lucky to have a compassionate daughter like you to take care of her.

  6. Sheila Thompson

    Sue is, indeed, an angel in so many ways to so many people. We are blessed to have her in our lives! <3

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