Top Ten Things I have learned about caregiving (so far…)
10. People scatter. Usually one family member steps up to the plate…the others step back.
9. Beware of the "other shoe." Caring for an elderly person is like waiting for the "other shoe to drop." Just when you think you are on top of things another mini-crisis is waiting in the wings.
8. Don't hold your breath. Compliments are far and few in-between. Your parent will resent that they need your assistance and your extended family will think that this was a job that you "chose." (Criticism, however, is never in short supply…IGNORE IT)
7. When someone asks if they can help….LET THEM. Have a list ready, hand it to them, and say, "Take your pick." Avoid becoming a martyr. Delegate. Get the family involved.
6. Water is sometimes thicker than blood. Friends can sometimes be better allies than siblings. Hold your friendships sacred…so many people do not know how to relate to a caregiver.
5. Be realistic about sharing your space. Before inviting your parents to move into your home, remember that it takes a lot of patience and skill to manage this situation.
4. Trust your instincts. Your parents are relying on you to advocate for them. Do not be afraid to ask doctors, lawyers, or government workers questions. If something doesn't "feel" right, don't do it.
3. Be kind. There will be people in your midst who will offer compassion, kindness, advice, and their time. Thank them.
2. Recharge the batteries. Take time, even a minute, to do something, anything, other than caregiving. You are doing your very best and cannot survive without a daily "breather."
1. Remember. Remember that they are still your parents. Look for any essence of the person that you knew, forgive past grievances, and try to enjoy the little time that is left.
(Please feel free to add to the list….)