Tag Archive | Caregiver

The Evolution of Mom: Lessons for Life Learned as a Caregiver, Part III

Concluding, for now, the last in the series of posts on lessons I’ve learned as a caregiver, it’s important to emphasize that a good, healthy and happy life is about balance, meaning not going about life with a lot of unnecessary baggage – emotional or otherwise.  While it may sound simple, it can be a challenge to consistently make it happen, but try we must!

Remaining in balance often requires us to let go of the things that aren’t working for us and that take far too much of our time without being one of our top priorities or providing a substantial enough positive benefit.  To further explain what I mean, I’ll jump into the next thing I learned as a caregiver.

Principle 3: Travel light

I realized that I had to unpack some old habits, ways of doing things and thought processes that did not benefit me or my journey with mom.  In a previous post, I mentioned the importance of knowing your audience and communicating so your audience gets your point. Well, my old way of communicating and interacting with my mom, a dementia patient, no longer worked.  And I was stuck because my mom had changed since being sick, but I had not changed my approach with her, which made things more difficult for me.

To fix this problem, I had to unpack some baggage in the form of old ways of being and relating to mom that were weighing me down, causing more conflict and preventing me from having positive interactions with her.  I had to learn to travel light without all the baggage, and it’s still a work in progress.

However, for me, letting go and traveling light is necessary for staying afloat and improving the situation with my mom and my quality of life.  It is possible to literally drown in our situation if we don’t learn to let go of baggage such as stress, negativity, worry, anxiety, self-doubt, procrastination, impatience, discontent, complaining or whatever our vice might be.  These things do not profit us but serve to hinder, distract, slow us down, and keep us stuck in a vicious cycle that goes nowhere and does a body no good.

Traveling light requires being selective, picking and choosing what’s working for us and what’s hurting us, what’s helping us accomplish our most important goals and priorities and what’s pulling us away from the things we want to do and the people we love.  Once we identify what’s what, then it’s time to clean house and get rid of some things so we can travel light, and be free to be our best selves without all the drama, emotional clutter and negativity.

Being a caregiver can be both daunting and a blessing, depending on how we travel with it. The same probably could be said of many situations in which we find ourselves, and traveling light can have a profound impact on how we experience those situations, and life in general, for the better.

Situations are temporary, and if we travel light, we can endure the temporary inconveniences of life with more joy, peace, contentment and purpose than every before.

Advertisements

The Evolution of Mom: Lessons for Life Learned as a Caregiver, Part II

When we have difficulty understanding or getting through to others, it may be that we’ve forgotten the nature of the person we are talking to and/or how they process information.  I knew my mom and her condition well enough to know that my approach wasn’t working (and wouldn’t work) with her, but I was stuck in the habit of interacting with her in a certain way.  Yet, I couldn’t understand why things were so difficult. Go figure!

Most of the troubles I’m describing were the result of mindlessness, acting without thinking – based on habit.  I continued to engage my mom in the same old ineffective ways day after day, and day after day, my approach wasn’t working, which only led to frustration.  At last I became more mindful and changed my strategy to include my mom’s thought process instead just my own.

hospice-1821429_1920

Principle 2:  Remember your audience

When we are dealing with others “we” are not our own audience.  The person we are engaging in conversation or are otherwise dealing with is our audience.  So if the other person is our audience, it’s futile to use methods that would work for us and not the other person when we need the other person to understand our message.  We are not trying to sell or influence ourselves; we’re trying to reach the other person.

If we keep trying to sell ourselves what we already have, know and understand, we will purchase our own for-sale house, when we needed an outside buyer!

In order to get others to understand our message, we must reach out to them in ways that they understand. When we’re trying to convey a message to someone else, we have to learn to think like them so we can provide what they need in the way that they need it for them to hear and receive whatever we are saying or doing. Otherwise, we are wasting our time and frustrating ourselves.

We can get so stuck in our habits and ways of being that it becomes challenging to consider that the other person may not think or feel the same way as we do.  So mindlessly trying to reach out to someone else using methods that work only for us is like assuming that everyone in this vast world thinks the same as we do.  And that assumption would be grossly inaccurate.

Hence, our interactions with others need to be in ways and methods that resonate with them, our target audience.  And if we tailor our outreach/communication methods to fit our audience, we’ll have more successful interactions. And if nothing more, those we interact with at least will be clear on our meaning whether they agree with us or not.

However, we have to be flexible enough to change our approach when what we’re doing isn’t working.  Knowing our audience and adjusting  our communication to fit who they are and how they take in information, can save or improve our relationships, as well as help us retain our peace of mind and well-being.  Try adjusting your message to fit the way your audience thinks the next time you need to communicate a difficult message to your spouse, significant other, child or coworker.

The Evolution of Mom: Lessons for Life Learned as a Caregiver, Part 1

My sisters and I have been caregivers for our Mom for just over two years. And, given the seemingly ongoing challenges of being a caregiver, I realize that I have to handle it like a long-distance runner: I have to pace myself.

So, I opened my heart and mind to embrace what this experience was teaching and bringing to my awareness. This series of posts will share insights that emerged in my journey as a caregiver that I hope will prove as valuable to you as they have been to me.

hospice-1821429_1920

Principle 1

Although everything that happens in life may not be all about you, it nonetheless is about some aspect of you when it includes you and/or impacts your life.

I do, however, understand what most people mean when they say “It’s not about you,” but it still bothers me a bit to hear it because few people ever explain what they mean. I get the fact that most people are referring to the bigger purpose behind a situation, but for people who are true helpers, givers and servants of Christ, that statement can be easily misunderstood and used to exhaust and abuse one’s self. Therefore, don’t underestimate or disregard how a situation impacts your life simply because you are not the one receiving direct care or requesting assistance with a problem. When you are in a supportive role is when your own selfcare is even more important because you are pulling from within yourself in order to give of yourself to another. And anytime you pull something out of yourself to share with others, you need to replenish yourself – and what you give needs to be a part of you that is actually available for giving.

Without a plan to replenish yourself and your resources, over the longterm, you could end up mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially bankrupt, which can make it even more challenging to be supportive to others and yourself.

Your own selfcare is your first priority because everything else you do hinges on your being well enough in the various areas of your life to do what you need, want or have been asked to do. Therefore, everything that affects you on some level is about you!  So, you must provide care for your self before you can effectively and patiently care for someone else. Otherwise, it’s like giving others only the crumbs of ourselves when we are too exhausted, stressed and unhappy to do what we need to do in a kind, patient and loving manner. There’s nothing wrong with some crumbs occasionally if that works for you and all concerned in the interim.

However, the crumbs of life were not intended to be the norm for how we function day in and day out. We were designed to be balanced and whole, which require consistent cycles of work activity and self renewal in order to function at our very best. So before you “X” yourself out by making a situation ALL about someone else, consider your self-love life and whether you are loving your neighbor (others, including family and extended church family and friends) “as yourself or “instead” of yourself.

Note that loving your neighbor (others) as yourself requires that you first have some substance inside yourself to share. You’ve got to have some internal savings stored up. So it is out of the abundance of who you are and all that you’ve stored and poured into yourself that you give unto others. And after doing so, you refill and restore yourself so you’ll be ready to pour out again as needed.

On the other hand, loving your neighbor instead of yourself requires that you diminish your own importance in order to make someone else more important than your own self and wellbeing, or to make them look good and strong while making yourself appear weak and obsolete. This is what I referred to above as “X-ing” yourself out.

As you go through the days and weeks ahead, take note of if you are an “as-yourself” or an “instead-of-yourself” person. And if the latter, I would suggest spending a bit more time to find out who you are IN Christ rather than who you are outside or without Christ. It doesn’t make you a bad person by no means; it just makes you a person who hasn’t yet connected with his/her true value because when you know that you are worthy of admiration, you treat yourself differently, and as a consequence, you can have more meaningful interactions with others in your life.