Our thanks to Julie Cook Downing, Founder of Caregivers’ Comfort Creations, LLC for contributing this article. Julie is a valuable resource to the community in providing products, programs, and services to individuals, families, and professionals faced with the challenges of caregiving.
CAREGIVING IS QUITE POSSIBLY THE HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD™ and if you are fortunate to be reading this as a Caregiver, you have survived, which is a wonderful feat. And as the holidays approach, times become even more challenging to those caring for a family member/loved one. You experience memories of what used to be with your loved ones much more vividly creating a depth of sadness very difficult to rise above. I want you to survive the Holiday Season and embark on a brand new year!
I ask you to consider my proposition: instead of believing that you need to improve your Caregiving tactics, recognize that your willingness to assume the role of Caregiver is the greatest gift upon which there is nothing to improve upon because you are doing your very best. And let 2017 truly be the year in which you honor and applaud yourself!
There are so many reasons for you to make yourself the priority in 2017. The most important reason is as simple as survival: Caregivers risk ill health and even death as a result of our ominous tasks and emotional expenditure. The mortality rate for Caregivers is 63-70% higher than for a non-Caregiver. Caregivers can also experience deep depression and because Caregiving feels like a 36-hour responsibility, the depression is so very difficult to lift. The responsibility for another human being brings with it an ongoing edge that rarely goes away regardless of ideal circumstances.
Caregivers often find friends becoming more distant because they don’t feel comfortable around the patient; this is most noticeable with couples. When a spouse is the patient, couples who were friends don’t know what to do and have a tendency to flee. In the end, Caregivers must rely on themselves. And isn’t this true of life itself…all of us are responsible for our own happiness and well-being.
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