Caregiver Sunshine!! Motivational Advice.

There is a a wonderful caregiver discussion thread going in "I NEED SOME MOTIVATIONAL ADVICE" posted to this website. In that discussion thread, MrEldercare posed the following question to me:

"Thanks, Sunshine. Your heartfelt views are therapeutic and uplifting to overstressed caregivers. How do you keep that sunshine in your world when you've carried the caregiving load? Is it a natural disposition or something you developed within you over time? Elizabeth Blackwell's study on the cellular impact of stress (She's at the University of California San Diego I think) shows it's not the stress of caregiving per se but how a caregiver views the demands causes the harm. Sharing how you keep yourself motivated could unlock the door to a better life for others on this board."

I will post a reply to MrEldercare's question as the first reply to this post for anyone who may be interested and would love hearing from others as well.

1 Comment

Responsive to your questions, MrEldercare, I would say that first and foremost, I chose to be a caregiver long before I knew I would become a caregiver. My passion in caring for my 83-year old Mom now is rooted in the fact that were it not for my Dad and Mom's tender loving care throughout my entire life, starting in my childhood, I would not be who I am today. Had my Dad outlived my Mom, I would have done exactly the same thing for him. Children live what they learn is so very true. In that context, then, for me caregiving is not a burden though it has all of the real elements and issues that every single caregiver on this site describes and the heavy heart part is certainly real, but it need not be all-consuming. Why would I want to focus on decline to the exclusion of everything else that my Mom is still able to enjoy? Dementia is horrible. Laughter is beautiful! So is soft music, candlelight, leisurely drives and nice homemade meals and being an informal haristylist to Mom on Sunday afternoons as we play catch-up on the week's news. The other thing I would say is that the longer one remains a caregiver, the greater wisdom, compassion and insight one receives, if only we allow our eyes, hearts and ears to remain open to absorb the valuable lessons we need to learn about life 101 and caring. There is no option as I see it, but to carve out time for myself if I wish to remain the caregiver to my loved one, and needless to say I do. Every Saturday and Sunday morning is my personal time, usually seated at my bistro table on my deck, cup of coffee in hand, as the world and time stand perfectly still and as I watch my garden grow and greet the birds as they swoop in and out of my garden to see all things new.

As in life, disagreements are not the end of the world as some caregivers seem to believe, and it's not about me in the end. If Mom says she is not going to the doctor, I eventually counter with a lighthearted, "You will go f I have to shove you in the derriere, right out the door when we arrive at your doctor's office! That always brings laughter and more wise cracks from both of us. In the end, it is about patient advocacy and affording our loved ones the right to live and come to the end of their lives in the manner that they, not their physicians, see fit. Physicians are partners in caring

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