… begins with a single step.
Life is full of mini journeys or maybe it’s just one long journey and it probably doesn’t really make a difference how you look at it. What does matter is we watch our step along the way, in order to make it through as best we can.
At some point during this journey, chances are good that you will be a caregiver in at least some capacity, or you will require one (or both!). The CDC estimates one in five adults are currently caregivers and one in six non-caregivers expect to be caregivers in the next couple of years, and with the aging population, these numbers will only continue to go up. So what, right?
So, understanding the care giving journey whether or not you are knee deep in it, can be beneficial to preparing for what lies ahead. Whether you are expecting to become a caregiver, entrenched in its demands, or exiting the role, each stage presents its own challenges.
What baffled me at the start of my care giving days was how am I going to ever fit everything into one day? How can I do all the things and still have time for me and/or things I enjoy? Or time to relax? The truth is, I don’t know that I actually have any answers to that, because even though I’ve intentionally taken items off my plate, it seems to fill right back up. All the other stuff I pushed aside before now seems to be leaking and taking up space. Like cold mashed potatoes with runny gravy and no bread or turkey to push it into the corner.
What I’ve managed to learn so far is …
>> ASK a lot of questions. About the medical condition, about what to expect, about resources available. Ask medical professionals and others that have been there already. Be apologetically pesky so you can prepare.
>> FIND help. In all areas life. You can’t be your own village. Ask for what you need. No one else will really know how to help and you’ll just get annoyed that your friends or family can’t read your mind or that they just suck at being human. It does you no good to assume certain people will help and not to bother with others… just ask for what you need and let those willing to help, help. Some people step up and some people intentionally disappear and some people are so caught up in their own tornado’s they didn’t know you were trying to survive a hurricane. You can’t blame people for not showing up if you don’t give them a chance. Or clear, concise instructions on what and when you need something.
>> CREATE HEALTHY HABITS. NOW. Just now. I don’t care if you’re a caregiver or not. Find time for you, exercise, eat a vegetable, take a break. You won’t find time to do these things when you’re life suddenly gets a crap ton busier if you can’t find time to do them when your life is a normal level of crazy. I can’t say how important this is. The earlier you start to incorporate healthy DAILY habits, the better you are in sticking with them.
>> LET GO of what you thought life should be. No one has an easy-peasy life with no troubles or worries or stress. Be grateful for your own health, for living in a first world country, for seeing the sunset. It sounds all cliche but there is so much beauty around you. You can find silver linings and happy moments and content even in the middle of struggle and dark. It’s there. Let go of what you can’t control and embrace what you have. It’s okay to be upset and frustrated and feel all those emotions, you are human and it’s normal. But don’t linger. Let it go.
I’m no expert, and I know many lessons lay before me. So I’m doing what I can now to implement what I’ve already learned and I like to believe this has made a tremendous difference in how I cope daily.
Tell me… what’s your biggest lesson and takeaway from your journey so far?