Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lessons I've Learned Along the Way #17 (cancer/caregiving pt2)

Caregivers need emotional, spiritual, and physical support.  And breaks.

In my previous post, I mentioned how much time and energy my mom put into caring for my dad, at the end of his life.  

Unfortunately, it's one of those posts that falls flat when comparing it to reality.  You just don't know what a caregiver goes through unless you see it or experience it first hand.  So if you haven't, I just ask that you trust me and believe me- it is very, very difficult to be the primary caregiver of someone, especially a full grown adult.  And we should thank them.  Over.  And over.  Again.

Adding to that, another lesson I learned was that the primary caregiver needs as much support as the person with the illness.

Sending notes of encouragement, visiting them, bringing food, praying for them (and with them), etc...  yes. yes. yes.  These are incredibly helpful for the caregiver.  

But the primary caregiver needs a break now and then too.  And that's a whole other ballgame.  

My mom gave round-the-clock care to my dad. There were times that she needed to go and take care of things outside of the house, but it was very hard for her.  Not only because she didn't want to leave him for fear of what could happen while she was gone, but because it was extremely difficult for her to trust another person to care for him, as well as she would.

My encouragement to anyone reading this is- if you have a loved one who requires constant care and you are not the primary caregiver, step up.  Learn the routines.   Ask questions.  Take notes.  Earn the trust of the primary caregiver by showing them that you know how to provide quality care.  And make yourself available to care for the loved one, so that the primary caregiver can have a break, when needed.  

Because it is needed.

*This post (or any of my posts) should not be interpreted as a secret message to my family that they didn't step up enough.  1) If/when I have an issue with my family, it's handled directly, not via the internet.  And 2) Our family came together to help in a variety of ways.  We are more bonded because of our experiences and the support that we gave each other.  So please no reading between the lines.  I say what I mean both online and in person.  :)

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