Thursday, July 26, 2012
How Do You Take Care of a Care Giver?
Now I see my mom taking care of my Mammaw -- emergency room runs, visits to doctors, addressing issues with her health care and living arrangements, washing her laundry, following-up on problems and working through challenges.
Are you a caregiver? The caregiver to which I am referring is someone who takes care of someone who is ill, aging…in general, someone who takes care of another person without remuneration or compensation. Neither of these are jobs people are jumping up and down waving their arms screaming, “Ooohhh, pick me! Pick me! I want that job.” But my role models in these positions have served their loved ones humbly and honorably with their whole heart and body to the point of exhaustion without complaint. They fight for their loved one because she can’t do it for herself. They feed, clothe, spend time with them, listen to them, and take care of the day-to-day life issues that others never know. They are the security blanket for the one they serve. They are the ones that are called when there is a crisis or an issue regardless of the time of day or night.
So, who takes care of the caregiver because everyone runs out of steam at some time? Who steps in and supports the caregiver when they feel at the end of their rope? What does it look like to take care of the caregiver? How do you take care of the caregiver?
It’s not just one person’s responsibility to serve. It wasn’t just my daddy’s responsibility to serve my mom, but rather, the family’s responsibility and desire to serve and honor her. Sometimes he just needed a ride-about with Daisy (the dog). Sometimes it was a listening ear. I remember Lori and I watching and listening to him as much as we did mom just to make sure he was taking care of himself, and if there was something we could do, we stepped up. What we found is that when everyone steps up and steps in to support that main caregiver, he was encouraged and refueled. It’s a long road to maintain a steady steam if you don’t have people stepping in and stepping up. Now, we watch mom as she is the primary caregiver for Mammaw. We watch to make sure she is taking care of herself. We step in and we step up to do what we can to help with Mammaw, but we are limited. So the next best thing is to take care of the caregiver. Have you ever noticed that when you are in the middle of something you don’t really realize that you are neglecting your own welfare? And considering her bout with stage 3 cancer, she doesn’t have the same endurance that she had before.