When I chose to have children, I was ready to be a mom. I wasn’t prepared for, nor did I choose, the role of caregiver.
After our son Eric was born, for a very brief moment, I was a mom. Minutes later, I became a caregiver.
All of a sudden, I had the responsibility of taking care of someone who would require my assistance for everything he wanted or needed, for his entire life. At the same time, my parents became caregivers too. There wasn’t a day that went by where they weren’t helping out in some way. They supported me when I was exhausted, and they attended to Eric in my place.
For the times that Eric was ill and in hospital, caregivers such as nurses and physicians were there to help. While most of the care was provided by me, my husband Lou, and my parents, the nurses offered a listening ear and gave words of encouragement. Physicians would try their best to answer any of our questions.
While at home, we were fortunate to have in home support workers for a couple of hours each day. They gave an extra set of hands when needed and most of the time they would take over the caregiver role so that our family could have a much-needed break.
As a caregiver, you are dealing with emotionally difficult situations. It isn’t easy to watch someone feel pain or be ill or live through a disabling condition. Whether you are a family member or a paid support worker, you are continually giving of yourself – nurturing others with your time, your energy, your knowledge and quite often, your heart.
The role of caregiver is challenging. It’s demanding. It’s draining. Caregivers often find themselves feeling alone and isolated. I remember that I used to be concerned for Eric’s support worker and that I didn’t want them to feel detached and unaided. After all, I knew how it felt to be on your own and without help.
Good caregivers make all the difference in the lives of people who require support. Because of the dedication and continual giving of their role, caregivers benefit from support too. A friend to talk to, a colleague with whom to share ideas can offer much needed encouragement and strength.
Coaching can help with dealing with emotions and finding balance. Coaching is an investment toward the freedom and autonomy from the heavy load and deep responsibility that your role often commands.
I want to thank all of the people who dedicate their lives for providing support to others. And remember……
Taking care of yourself is an important aspect of taking care of others.