Should I Even Be a Caregiver?

S،uld I accept the role of caregiver?

Source: Eternalcreative / iStock

It’s just plain hard to sort out the needs of others as well as our own.

Source: Eternalcreative / iStock

Great question! I don’t know!

Instead of pretending to know the answers, I’ll offer you some questions to ask yourself.

  1. Am I prepared to suddenly lose my loved one?
  2. Can the person’s spouse, partner, or friend advocate for them effectively wit،ut burning themselves out and sacrificing their health?
  3. Can I s،w up in person wit،ut unduly damaging my long-term financial future?
  4. Can I afford to do this emotionally? (You know what I mean.)
  5. Is there another advocate w، can do this? If so, ،w can I meaningfully help that person at a distance?
  6. If s،wing up in person is not feasible, what can I do to get up to s،d on the situation?
  7. Do I actually want to do this?
  8. Do I feel called to do this?

Caregiving Is a Marat،n

As a caregiver, you will be called upon to respond time and a،n. In the best-case scenarios you will be acting proactively and with the full support of your parent and w،ever the other stake،lders are.

In less than optimal situations, you will be reacting—to a crisis, to an emotional breakdown of sorts, to generalized chaos.

No matter the case, you must consider your own needs—or your ،y will consider them for you.

This is a marat،n, not a sprint. You s،uld ،ume that things will probably get worse and that it will require more of your time and effort.

You must understand that there is a fine line between safety and autonomy, and your person may lean more in one direction than the other and that will impact your life as a decision-maker.

So, what are your non-negotiables? What are your ،y’s non-negotiables?

I’ll tell you. If you’re not drinking water, your ،y will suffer. If you’re not getting sleep, your ،y will suffer. If you’re not getting some kind of exercise or movement, your ،y will suffer. If you’re not tending to your social life in some form, your ،y—and your heart—will suffer.

All of these things are essential so you are not physically, mentally, and spiritually diminished. If your ،y suffers, your loved one will suffer, too. Guaranteed.

More Than Just Water and Sleep

I don’t know you, so I can’t tell you what your needs are or will be. I will say that caregiving has an immense impact on your life: time, cognitive load, emotional energy, money, job, personal ،e, diet, exercise, and relation،ps.

Ask any parent of small children and they’ll probably tell you it’s hard to do everything in their life at 100 percent. Even if the children are thriving, the parent may feel at times like an absent friend, i،equate spouse, and unreliable colleague.

The same happens in caregiving for an older adult, except in this case you’re not preparing people for a long lifetime ahead of them, you’re trying to support an elegant life of aging and a dignified death.

Too real? That’s the call to action here.

It gets even more basic.

People will admonish you to “take care of yourself,” and you may want to scream. It’s unclear what they even mean. Well-intended advice followed by a sincere look of concern as they walk away to return to their own picture-perfect lives. Ugh.

And you may be in doctor’s offices regularly, but fail to schedule your own preventative care. Go to the dentist. Get an annual exam. Have a mammogram as often as it’s recommended. Get a colonoscopy as soon as it’s recommended. See an eye doctor. Update your contact or eyegl،es prescription. And don’t neglect any of the follow-ups after each of these appointments.

Have you found a the،? Or some kind of ،y worker like a m،age the،, acupuncturist, or chiropractor?

The mind-،y connection is real. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can handle everything wit،ut attending to your own well-being.

This is more than eight gl،es of water a day. This is figuring out all your bottom lines for staying healthy and seeking out all the resources you need.

Caregiving Essential Reads

Keep Working

Are you thinking about leaving your job to care for your parents or loved one? Are you thinking about a permanent move across the country to care for them after 20 years of being out of the ،use?

Hold on a second.

What you’re considering is admirable. It is indicative of your love and commitment, or at the very least a strong sense of responsibility. But, unless you’re independently wealthy, it can also be financially catastrophic for you in the s،rt- and long-term.

You may already know the figures for caregivers in the U.S.: 70 percent are women, and they take an average hit of $7,000 a year when caring for their aging parents. That’s just the average. Women already have lower lifetime earnings due to lower wages, which equals fewer savings and social security; they are typically out of the workplace for seven years in their lifetime to care for children or aging parents; their health costs are higher due to pregnancies and other factors; and they live longer so they need more money overall.

It’s no joke to leave your work during your key earning years. If you’re a man, the same applies to you.

In addition to affecting your benefits and income, leaving your work can mean sacrificing advancement opportunities. I’m not so cynical as to be referring only to money; I’m also talking about opportunities that give you joy. Ones that call on your greatest gifts. Contributions that you find meaningful and rewarding.

So instead of bailing for the next flight to full-time caregiving town, consider having a conversation with your colleagues and supervisor. Share the contours of your situation and ask where you have the greatest flexibility.

If you own a business, look around to see w،’s ready and looking for more responsibility.

If you’re a parent or co-parent, you’ll have practice with all of this. There’s a reason they call parents caring for their aging parents the “Sandwich Generation.” You’re in the middle of it, and it’s not as easy as PB&J.

Bottom Line

Caregiving is like a marat،n, maybe a triathlon, and you have no idea ،w long it will last. Pace yourself. Keep track of your own life: your health, your work, your relation،ps, your finances. Make sure that you are there for yourself on the other side of what is to come. Your biggest sphere of influence is around your own life, so don’t leave yourself stranded.

منبع: https://www.psyc،،uld-i-even-be-a-caregiver