Updated: Oct 23
This week's post is a discussion about the hardest part of being a family caregiver. Doing everything you have to do while you're feeling everything that you're feeling.
I'm a member of AARPs Family Caregivers Discussion Group on Facebook, where I frequently read posts from other family caregivers about what they are experiencing. I read a post recently that took me back to my early years of caring for my mom.
The post was from a woman who was really struggling with how to cope with her husband's dementia because of how it had changed his personality. I could hear her frustration and anger at having to care for someone who was becoming verbally abusive to her, but most of all, I heard her pain.
As I read her post, I was reminded of those early days when I would get so angry and frustrated with my mother when she would do little things that would result in me having to do more work or just being just out of sorts, and I wasn't able to figure out a way to deal with that. I thought about how I would sometimes just run down into the basement and scream and swear and yell just to vent out all of those emotions that I was carrying.
I thought about how I would sometimes sit at the foot of the basement stairs just dreading going back upstairs and mopping the floor or doing the dishes or getting ready for bed when I was feeling so much angst. Those were the feelings that I had before I learned how to include myself on the care journey.
Learning to include myself helped me recognize that I had some really powerful emotions undergirding all of the tasks that I was required to perform. I learned that the hardest part of the journey wasn't taking on the extra tasks. It was how I felt about having to take on all of those extra tasks.
My response to the writer was short and to the point. I encouraged her to ask for support not just for having someone to come and help do things, but to find the support she needed to support how she was feeling.
I encouraged her to reach out to the medical professionals who were helping her find her way with her husband to ask them for support to help her find her way through this journey. Care journeys bring up a lot of emotions, and so it's important to have support networks for those emotions as well as support networks for helping you to perform the tasks that you have to perform.
My encouragement to you this week is to be honest with yourself about how you're feeling so that you can get support to help you through that.
Until next time, Dr. Sheri.
Dr. Sheri L. Yarbrough is an author, caregiver, and founder of Praxis Senior Care-Giving Solutions, a consulting business that provides care-givers with practical and easily implemented strategies that can be tailored to meet their individual care needs.
View Dr. Yarbrough's weekly blog on all things caregiving from a caregiver's perspective.