Caregiving Rule #1: Self Care!
My caregiving journey began with a bang one Holiday season when my family had gathered in Florida for our annual get together. My Dad had to be taken off an airplane in a wheel chair because he had gotten so sick during the flight. My WWII bombardier hero, rock steady, never sick Dad had walking pneumonia.
My sister and I were shocked and dismayed. I realized that my mom was showing signs of dementia and my dad was exhausted because he was caring and compensating for her. her." (learn about the 10 types of dementia: http://www.thecarecenters.com/ar/the-10-types-of-dementia).
I took my Dad aside and asked if he wanted my help. His response was an immediate yes and I committed right then and there to do whatever it took to step in and help them. I had no idea what I was signing up for and no clue where to begin. (See what options you have for caring for loved ones either at home or in assisted living: http://www.thecarecenters.com/ar/which-is-better-home-care-of-assisted-living?)
My caregiving journey would end up being a roller coaster of a ride but by the grace of God I realized early on that I could be miserable or I could view my journey as a life changing and empowering one. I could chose how I felt about my caregiving role and what kind of ride I would have.
I learned the hard way that the only way I would survive this journey with grace and enjoy the ride was if I took care of myself with the same commitment that I took care of my parents.
I often say that those of us who commit to caregiving are in it for the long haul. We don't give in and we don't give up. We are hardwired to take this responsibility very seriously and will do everything we can to insure that our loved ones are comfortable and safe. (Learn more about home care: http://www.thecarecenters.com/ar/What-is-Home-Care)
We must be as committed to our own well being and health as we are to the well being of our loved ones. Only then will we be able to have those moments when we enjoy this powerful and intense caregiving journey. It is by honoring ourselves and taking the same loving care of our own needs first that we are able to be great caregivers to others.
Self care can mean many things at many times but by making a habit of checking in with ourselves on a daily basis to see if we need anything to feel better is the best caregiving tool we have. Treat yourself as kindly as you would your loved ones. Everybody will benefit.