20 Mar 2019

Celebrating a caregiver for their daily commitment to care of another. 

By Jim, Our "Senior" Contributor

Caregiving can be tougher than tough, more demanding than raising triplets, deeply depressing, severely stressful, and can wear one down to a crawl. However, it can be totally rewarding and a positive opportunity for a new meaning to our lives. One example was summed up by a friend who’s wife suffers from Alzheimer’s by noting “I am always there and listening, even though she most likely does not know it.”

Caregiving does not know any specific age, disease, injury, gender, race, religion, culture, nationality, education, or capability. Basically, anyone can be called to the function of caregiving. There are those caregivers who give all in their role and those who commit horrible abuse and criminal acts. They may be called upon with a child to be a life-long caregiver or for intensive caregiving for an elderly relative. While there is not just one picture of a caregiver, they all represent the strengths of commitment, showing empathy and compassion, respect, reliability and dependability, trustworthiness, attention and caring, patience but good with time management and initiative, exercise of good communication skills and observation, respect but targeting rules, and importantly, showing a happy disposition and enthusiasm.

So what if we are called upon to be a caregiver? First, we must recognize that there are those people who simply are not capable as a caregiver for many different reasons. Second, in a family an important discussion must revolve around the needs of the person, but also the resources that exist and that are reasonably available to address those needs. Many times the intercession of a professional to the process can be the difference between leaving a deep feud and scar or the inability to address the caregiver responsibilities, and in creating an outline that supports caregiving yet does not damage relationships. Advice and guidance/referral support can be obtained through the local Office of Aging, national caregiver associations, and even the social work staffs at senior communities, nursing facilities, hospitals and our religious leaders.

I fully recommend researching online the many valuable resources that exist to prepare us, educate us, guide us, maintain us, reward us, and bless us as we proceed to take on, carry through, and at some point complete the caregiver functions. While not always considered, the caregiver may very will be faced with depression when transitioning out of the caregiver role. This is time to turn to friends and family to work through this difficult period, or to seek out professional help. Finally, the caregiver is now in a great position to be a “helping light” to others who are new to this role.