More than just a caregiver...

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Hello all,

It's Anne-Marie, one of your AgingCare writers. First of all, on behalf of your AC team, thank you for being a part of our thriving community!

I'm hoping to get your perspectives on a conversation I recently had with a caregiver while I was interviewing her for a story.

During our discussion, she mentioned that one of the hardest things about caregiving was the feeling that she was "just a caregiver." She was so consumed with caregiving that she felt defined by her role and couldn't see herself as anything else.

Now this woman loves to write and, when her schedule permits, she works on what she hopes will one day be a published romance novel. But if you were to ask her if she was a writer, she would say, 'no.'

She's also a mother, a wife, an aunt, a mentor, a friend...the list goes on.

It seems like this would be a common feeling for caregivers, and a topic that needs to be addressed.

Do any of you out there in the AC community feel this way as well--are you defined by your status as a caregiver?

What else are you? A scrapbooker, a volunteer, a lawyer, an activist, a pet owner?

What advice would you give to someone who find it difficult to see past their position as a caregiver?

Thanks!

35 Comments

Fortunately, I have the most wonderful little grandson, so I truly think of myself as his Gramarley first! Being sweet & entertaining & attentive, he brings out the best in his great-grandmother (and me, too) which allows me to see what there is good in her. And, I also have a terrific boyfriend who is also his family caregiver, not so upclose and personal caregiving yet, but enough to understand and accept my situation and I accept his. So, at almost 64 years, I am also a girlfriend, lol, along with being a mother to my grown children, a sister, an aunt, a friend. Sadly, I don't think of myself so much as a daughter anymore, but a caregiver. In the scheme of things, Mama could do much worse than me though, lol. We are all students, too, learning more than we ever wanted to know about our loved ones, the health care system, and ourselves. Most of all, I think that we are all fighters, fighting for those we care for, and for ourselves, too, and our other loved ones, to do what is right today and to survive to fight another day.
This question actually raised anxiety! I am ALSO a yoga teacher, a volunteer, a confidante, a herbalist, and I need to remember that!
Just realized that I didn't say that I think of myself as a widow. I don't. My husband has a special place in my heart but I don't think of myself as his widow. I was the wife of a wonderful man who I will always love. I think he would like that. Lol, don't think he would have ever thought of himself as a widower!
This is something I have been thinking about. I taught in a small university in south Georgia, then went into online sales before coming here to take care of my parents. When I first came here, my old life was still open to me. I could have slipped back into it without any problems. Three years later, I am totally divorced from how things used to be, and I realize that my life has become one of a caregiver who sells things online. I am in a terribly vulnerable place, because I do not know where to go from here. It is like I took on an job that offers no pay, no benefits, and is going to consume several years, but is going to end at a time when there will be no good opportunity to rebuild my own life. I know that I am not alone in how I feel. I do not have any good answers. Caregiving consumes so much time and emotional energy that it is a challenge to live in the present, much less think a lot about the future. I know I have to prepare for the future or it will be terrible for me.
Excellent topic choice. Yes, I do sometimes feel defined by my role as my mother's primary family caregiver. After all, it does take up the majority of my time! But if I stop and define myself aside from that, I consider myself to be a Dancer as that was my first and most beloved focus in my life. I am a Dancer who paints, weaves beads, and has a Masters in (astro)physics. I am not employed. I don't get paid for caregiving. I market (or try to) my art myself and I also am an adjunct at two universities (one online).

I am a highly talented, highly intelligent, financially distressed caregiver. I can't really plan for the future because the present is ill-defined, concerned as it is with the vagaries of caregiving. It's not just the health issues, as you must know, but also the issues arising from the horrible way this country manages health care. I blame the health insurance companies for most of this. But that's another topic...
I am a mother and a wife besides a caregiver but i see myself as a writer, crafter trying to sell handmade goods like afghans or blankets. I also see myself working another job as a teacher's aide to help work to strengthen my family finances but I am also strapped and tired of renting a place that needs so much in repairs and dealing with a landlord who finds it difficult to work with the disabled that rent from him, I am trying to save funds to buy a house one day for my family and present company I have staying with me because I have been at home far to long and feel that I have lost my path and my identity; thusly i am a caregiver and I put the emphasis because my reality is that and nothing else but then no one cares about the sacrifices we make for the loved ones and have to bust our butts to make every day count. I am always tired and stressed so yes I am just extraordinary woman labeled as a Caregiver:)
I am in fact a caregiver who is also a writer. I view my writing time as a release from my care giving duties. I try to have paper and pen/pencil with me at all times. When I'm waiting with my loved one in the doctor's office, I "tune out" and go to my novel where I try to work out some phrasing. This goes for other "waiting" places as well. I've written whole short stories while my loved one takes a nap. I also have a "sacred hour" each day for writing (it doesn't always happen at the same time, but I don't consider my day complete until it happens).
Having an "alternative universe" helps me cope with all the "present universe" problems in a more creative and mindful way. I use it as a distraction to keep me from dwelling on how depressed, angry, and resentful I feel about my care giving duties. Yes, you need to deal with those feelings. I'm going to a care group and have been to therapy to sort them out. But I find the "distraction" of writing a good short-term coping mechanism so that I don't live in my depression. I also use the story to distract my loved one from his preoccupation with his own aches and pains.
I hope this helps. Good luck. Blessings on you.
I am in fact a caregiver who is also a writer. I view my writing time as a release from my care giving duties. I try to have paper and pen/pencil with me at all times. When I'm waiting with my loved one in the doctor's office, I "tune out" and go to my novel where I try to work out some phrasing. This goes for other "waiting" places as well. I've written whole short stories while my loved one takes a nap. I also have a "sacred hour" each day for writing (it doesn't always happen at the same time, but I don't consider my day complete until it happens).

Having an "alternative universe" helps me cope with all the "present universe" problems in a more creative and mindful way. I use it as a distraction to keep me from dwelling on how depressed, angry, and resentful I feel about my care giving duties. Yes, you need to deal with those feelings. I'm going to a care group and have been to therapy to sort them out. But I find the "distraction" of writing a good short-term coping mechanism so that I don't live in my depression. I also use the story to distract my loved one from his preoccupation with his own aches and pains.

I hope this helps. Good luck. Blessings on you.
I am in fact a caregiver who is also a writer. I view my writing time as a release from my care giving duties. I try to have paper and pen/pencil with me at all times. When I'm waiting with my loved one in the doctor's office, I "tune out" and go to my novel where I try to work out some phrasing. This goes for other "waiting" places as well. I've written whole short stories while my loved one takes a nap. I also have a "sacred hour" each day for writing (it doesn't always happen at the same time, but I don't consider my day complete until it happens).

Having an "alternative universe" helps me cope with all the "present universe" problems in a more creative and mindful way. I use it as a distraction to keep me from dwelling on how depressed, angry, and resentful I feel about my care giving duties. Yes, you need to deal with those feelings. I'm going to a care group and have been to therapy to sort them out. But I find the "distraction" of writing a good short-term coping mechanism so that I don't live in my depression. I also use the story to distract my loved one from his preoccupation with his own aches and pains.

I hope this helps. Good luck. Blessings on you.
Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses so far. You are all truly inspirational individuals!

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