Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Harried Holiday

Like many of you who are caregivers my brother and I are deciding what we’ll do for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Depending on the extent of your caregiving responsibilities you may be adjusting your schedule to for visits to care facilities, in-home visits, giving medications, what foods can be served, what activities you can be involved in, when you get to sleep, what confrontations (family and others) to anticipate, possible emergency room trips, clothes to pack (yours and others), hygiene rules and a list of other issues and contingencies.

Remember when all you had to worry about was having enough food and who’d get hurt playing touch football in the back yard?

If you let all the things that worry you…worry you…every special time becomes a drudge.

Try thinking about it this way: What do you have to be thankful for? This might be the last holiday season you have with the person for whom you care. And don’t feel guilty about hoping that’s true. Just recognize the fact.

If you have a restful moment, be thankful for it. If you are healthy, be thankful for that. If you can put gas in your vehicle, lay your head on a soft pillow, get a hug FROM ANYONE, enjoy a bite of turkey, feel the sun’s warmth, take a walk or raise a glass in toast of life, be thankful for it.

As caregivers, what we do is stressful but necessary. Most of the time, if we had a choice, we’d choose not to have to do it. But, we’re here. The experience is what it is and the best thing we can do is be thankful that we matter.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stronger Than You Know

Sunday’s edition of my local paper had an article about parents of Autistic children who are waiting for Medicaid benefits.

The article chronicled all the issues delaying the benefits but the most important part was a series of comments from the parents. “I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this.” “I’m at the end of my rope.” “I can’t take this much longer.”

Sound familiar?

When I talked about the article with a friend she said, “Those are special people, I don’t know if I could do something like that.”

To which I replied, “No, they aren’t special people. They are normal people in a special circumstance. And yes, you could do that. You wouldn’t have any choice. And you've done it before.”

I know my friend has that sort of strength because she has dealt with her own health issues and those of her late husband and late father-in-law.

 We are all much stronger than we think or give credit to ourselves.

When placed in extraordinary circumstances humans are wonderfully strong and resourceful creatures.

The stress comes from the fact that we often don’t want to be in the situations in which we find ourselves. I’m with ya! Go back and read the “I Hate Caregiving” blog from a couple of weeks ago.

But, again, we can hang tough or, as my friends in Texas say, “Cowboy Up,” when we need to.

The difficult issue about caregiving is that we seldom know when it will end. So we have to take care of ourselves as we move through the experience. It’s such a cliché now, but remember the airline attendant’s advice to put the mask on yourself first and then help others.

You can do this. Cowboy and Cowgirl Up!

***(Go to and check out the "Lindsey Haun Stronger Than You Know" video...don't let the opera fool you, it only lasts 1 minute...listen to the words)