“Who cares for the caregiver?”
It seems like a simple enough question doesn’t it?
As an experienced caregiver, I can honestly say, unless you take care of yourself first (and always), you are asking for trouble on many levels.
What life changing issues may thrust us into the role of caregiver?
Truthfully, it doesn’t matter. The base point is the same “the caregiver must have and keep their own support team.”
Many times in my life I was blessed to be an integral part of caring for a loved one and, on one occasion, a dear friend.
The extent of my service included just helping out a few days with errands, and communicating with that person’s medical team and other family members. Preparing meals, light or heavy household work, and a great deal of “up close and personal” physical care. Assistance with bathing and other personal hygiene matters and the nucleus of it all - providing unconditional love, reassurance and comfort to the human being God placed in my care.
Oh, let’s not leave out the occasional unexpected bodily accidents and the securing and handling of their legal status.
The best example which I can provide is the care of my dearly beloved husband William Lee Culp III.
From the time he came home and announced he had stage 4 lung cancer and a short time to live, my days became stretched, strained and definitely stranger.
The hours were long and often unmerciful. Constantly having to keep a watchful eye on the medical team, explaining to family and friends “why” he could not be in crowds due to the progression of the disease on him, both physically and mentally.
Sometimes I had to “put my big girl panties on" and take the back lash, accusations and unsolicited opinions of whoever it came from, on any given day.
Please don’t get me wrong, I was more scared than angry with the situation and could have used the support system and caregivers I subsequently chased away. After all, I am a big girl and I could handle anything that came through the proverbial hoop! Bring it on, I thought.
Not so! What an urban legend – no a straight -out lie! Today, I seriously understand that without God’s divine grace and mercy, via the “earthly angels” he sends to help me- in the role of caregiver and in general, I’d never make it!
My suggestion to anyone taking on the role, being tossed into the position, or inheriting that job (paid or un-paid), please gather or notify your support team.
What is a caregiver support team?
It can be a combination of close friends, a good nurse who has exemplary listening skills and other medical professionals such as a counselor or psychiatrist. A 12-step program for substance abuse or otherwise is also a very good idea for anyone in recovery, especially if the person you're caring for has medications they must take around the house.
Last of all, but never least, you need the loving care of your pastor, church family and community.
Don’t forget to thank God for the overall ability to be a caregiver. If it happens, then it is meant to be, sometimes, whether we like it or not!
After all, it is our service here on earth that prepares us for the ultimate destination - his kingdom.