Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees as the old saying goes, and sometimes, as caregivers, we get so wrapped up in solving problems, putting out fires, going to doctor’s appointments and dealing with legal issues like POA, etc. that we forget the real reason we became caregivers in the first place.
Because We Love
Most of us signed on as caregivers because we love our spouses, parents, grandparents or other family members and we felt like we could care for them better than anyone else. Most of us also want to keep our loved ones out of care facilities for as long as possible. Sometimes we are just kind of thrown into caregiving and sometimes there is a clear line of when it begins. Spouses, for example, just kind of slide into caregiving, whereas children or other family members tend to make more of a conscious decision to get more involved in the lives of their loved ones. Either way, it’s a decision that is made based on love and necessity.
But somewhere along the way, somewhere between determining whether or not you need an elderlaw attorney and searching for an adult day care center. Somewhere between keeping grandpa from taking of his clothes in the mall and helping grandma to put hers on we got so wrapped up in the forest of caregiving and so stressed by the isolation and overwhelming nature of it all that we forgot the tree standing right in front of us. We forget to actively and intentionally LOVE.
LOVE Your Loved One
Yes, we continue to love our parents; and our emotional response reminds us of our love as we grieve their illness, but it gets harder and harder to express our love as the illness progresses. Their favorite gifts no longer interest them. Their favorite activities have faded from memory. Even their favorite people, ie. Grandchildren, nieces, nephews, spouses and children may or may not elicit a favorable response.
Yet, we have to remember the difficult truth that, grandma or mom or dad won’t be with us always, so even though the time spent is very different, I encourage you to hold a hand, give a hug, listen to a story (again), tell a story (for the 5th time), pull out that old record or just be there. Your loved one may not be able to articulate it, but everyone needs encouragement and you know what your mom, grandpa or grandma loved you first.
So, today, let the tasks go and just take a moment to LOVE your loved one.