Committing To the Role of Caregiver
As caregivers, we all occasionally struggle with the backlash of caregiving: anxiety; resentment; feeling over-extended and under-appreciated, just to name a few. But if you’re serious about making a difference in the life of your loved one, the first step starts with you.
Being a caregiver can be very demanding. For the uninitiated, learning to juggle family, work, and the responsibilities of caregiving takes some getting used to. Until you’ve logged some serious hours, it’s hard to comprehend the enormity of it all. Yet, almost without exception, each of us at some point will likely find ourselves in the middle of this inescapable journey.
Assuming the role of caregiver requires making a commitment. For me, initially, that was something I was unwilling to do. Call it a “stupid guy thing,” but I just didn’t feel up to the task. Too much responsibility, too much time; or at least that’s what I selfishly tried to tell myself.
There comes a time, however, when the reality of the moment and the needs of another clearly outweigh your own, when the things that matter most propel you beyond the selfish boundaries of “… yeah, but what about me?” Caregiving is that kind of experience. It forces you to choose sides and commit to the things that matter.
Will the road ahead be easy? Probably not. There’ll be days that will occasionally overwhelm you, followed by “Kodak” moments that will make you cry. I know it sounds crazy – but trust me – it’s all part of the process. After stumbling through your own series of mistakes and missteps, you’ll eventually find your footing and gradually figure out what works best for you – and more importantly, the person you’re caring for. So hang in there!
As caregivers, we all occasionally struggle with the backlash of caregiving: anxiety; resentment; feeling over-extended and under-appreciated, just to name a few. But if you’re serious about making a difference in the life of your loved one, the first step starts with you. In many ways caregiving is often a redemptive journey. It forever changes your life and it changes it for the better.
Become a better expression of yourself by doing something meaningful. Learn to embrace and enjoy your role as caregiver. Help a friend or loved one cope during a time when they need you the most, not for the sake of convenience or duty, but simply for the sake of love. The Alzheimer’s Association provides support and guidance at alz.org/care.
Garland Creighton is a member of the Leadership Board of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Richmond and author of the book Coming Alongside: Exchanging the anguish and heartache of caregiving for laughter, love, and peace of mind.