Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Enough About Me, Now Let's Talk About Me

Last night, I clicked on an article about how caregivers can find more balance in their lives, especially around the holidays. It started out well by noting that the holidays can be an emotional rollercoaster, the days this time of year are shorter so there’s less sunshine, and in some areas of the country the cold keeps people inside more which often means less interaction with others. The piece noted how easy it is to slide into depression. But, it wasn’t long before a phrase jumped off the page at me.

The phrase, itself, wasn’t all that big a deal…I’ll give it to you in a moment.

Here’s the deal, though; if I see the word Balance in the title of an article that supposedly focuses on who I am or what I do I’m thinking it’s going to show me a variety of ways to keep from getting out of balance…in fact, I’ll go a selfish step further, the article is going to be about me, what will help me, my life, my problems and issues…me, me, me.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m not saying I want to discount the person for whom I’m caring. It’s just that for every 2 words written or spoken about how caregivers can take better care of themselves there are 20,000 words about how to care for the caree. And, I get it. Truly. I understand who the care is focused on.

This is my hot-button about caregiver information. So much focus is given to the caree that the caregiver gets left out. Dr. Ronald D. Adelman, the co-chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, has coined the term The Invisible Patient for caregivers.

But, as the old joke goes, enough about me, let’s talk more about me…Don’t promise me something that will help me and within a few sentences drop in the phrase, You can help your parents by….  And then, list a number of ways you can do things for the caree. 

Are you feelin’ my pain?

We all want to be better caregivers and we can discover a wide variety of ways simply by searching online with the phrase, “10 Ways to Be a Better Caregiver.” You’ll see a bunch of wonderfully written articles that offer all kinds of ways to help you parents are whomever you are caring for.

Allow me to be a little more blunt. If no one else is saying it to you, let me be the one: It’s ok to be a little selfish, it’s ok to look out for you, it’s ok to want to be cared for, yourself, every now and then.

As long as you are satisfying the Big Two: The Caree is Safe, The Caree is as comfortable as possible considering your financial realities; you are fulfilling your responsibilities. After those two, everything else is gravy.

So much that is written and spoken about care for caregivers is actually about how caregivers can be more effective in their caregiving duties. That’s wonderful…but, it ain’t about how I/you/we can take better care of ourselves.

As my mother used to say, “It’s ok for you to take care of you.”

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