Caregiving 101

January 24, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

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What is a caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who gives care, as the name states. We are the people who day in and day out care for our young children, our elderly parents, or work in the healthcare system. I am the caregiver to an autistic child and a disabled diabetic mother, so when I share about care giving, I can promise you, I know how many of you may feel.

Giving your all each and every day can spread you very thin. A strain develops on other relationships, romantic or otherwise. You may feel anger and loss. Anger at the disease or the person whom you are caring for. Loss at missed opportunities, at being unable to do things ‘normal’ people do every day. These are normal feelings and you should not berate yourself for them. No matter the disease, caring for someone for twenty four hours a day will take its toll.

Take A Break.

Taking a break from your care giving is essential if you want to live a productive life. You will literally feel at times as if you are losing your mind. Exhaustion, both mental and physical opens a doorway to other feelings that undermine the self esteem and confidence of caregivers. Each day you should find at least an hour to devote to yourself and no one else.

You may wonder how to find even an hour. Take it. Do not go through your daily routine and beg yourself for an hour, then point out reasons why you cannot give it to yourself. Put your foot down to everyone in your household, including the person you are caring for. This is your time and no one else is to bother you, except in an emergency. There are some people being cared for who will make an emergency, but if you know that is the type of person you are giving care to, stand strong.

When To Seek Help.

Sometimes, we find ourselves caring for people who take advantage of us. If you are in that situation, it is time to seek help. Either by looking for a support group, talking to a therapist, or by possibly looking for a facility where older people can live with constant medical care. There is no reason to feel as if you are a slave or to let all of your relationships suffer.

With children, parents can work harder to teach them that their actions are wrong, if the child is using their health as a path to get their own way. With adults, it is up to them to change. If things become too strained, a health care facility may be the best option. These days, health care facilities are not the institutions of old. People are no longer strapped to their chairs or beds or left without care for hours on end. Activities and quality of life programs are in place to prevent neglect.

When you are a caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself, first. You deserve the same quality of care that you give each day.

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4 Responses to “Caregiving 101”
  1. Thank you, Carol. A comment like yours is why I am here. Battling Diabetes and other diseases is not just the battle of those afflicted…it affects all of us.

    Thank you for sharing, I can’t wait to check out your book, the title alone strikes a chord.

  2. It’s so true. Being a caregiver is different than simply being a daughter or a mother–or son or father. Those are very giving roles, but caregivers take on an added committment. They are often responsible for someone’s health or mental care. They are asked to make decisions that a healthy person could usually make for themselves. This added demension of committment and respnsibility–along with the day in, day out wear and tear is a HUGE lifealtering lifestyle.
    We do it because we love. Money just doesn’t cut it. Power? Not enough. It’s because we’re needed.
    I cared for my mom for 15 years after my dad died (she had Parkinson’s and then Alzheimer’s) and I raised my kids, stayed married (no small feat) and then, the last three years of my mom’s life, I brought her into our home. She passed away with me at her side.

    To say it wasn’t easy is easy. To do it? Not so easy.
    Thank you–from one caregiver to another. For the battle you face every day with diabetes. My best friend has it and I share in her highs and lows–physically and emotionally.
    You really do have to make a concerted effort to take care of YOU.
    ~Carol D. O’Dell
    Author of Mothering Mother; A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir,
    available on Amazon and in most bookstores.

  3. It is. Sometimes people forget about the caregivers. I wish I could send each and every one of them something special.

  4. Lesly says:

    Great tips, Julie — it’s hard to remember sometimes that you can’t be the best caregiver possible if you’re in poor health.

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