I have a new friend and a new story to share with you in honor of National Family Caregivers Month. Christine and I met earlier this week on Lisa Garr’s wonderful “Being Aware” Hay House radio show when Christine was brave enough to call in and share her caregiving story. She moved back in with her parents to take care of them because her Mom has Parkinson’s and her Dad has heart/breathing issues. Christine courageously expressed that she has frustration and resentment because she can only do so much, and her parents are making choices about their health that is not in their best interest.
She shared, “I actually WANT to help take care of my parents – it is something I feel fortunate to be able to do. At the same time, I do have anger because I don’t always have the energy to do the things that my mom needs help with, and then I am resentful that she needs the help because she wouldn’t need as much help if she took better care of herself.”
Then Christine mentioned that she too has had some health struggles along the way. She is a three-time survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and worries about the effect her current environment is having on her own health. She welcomes even simple changes such as eating healthier (my wheel house- I can help!) but her parents resist.
“BOUNDARIES” I exclaimed…which she heard and acknowledged. Setting boundaries is one of the most important and yet challenging decisions we caregivers must make.
When I was a flight attendant many years ago, we were instructed to put our oxygen masks on first or we would be of no help to anyone else on the aircraft. I really want to emphasize that metaphor to all caregivers: you MUST take care of yourself first. It seems so simple… but it is not. As caretakers of our families, loved ones, friends, or patients (as it applies to professional caregivers) in a health crisis, our needs fall by the way side because our natural instincts are to put the patient first and ignore ourselves.
At some point, many if not most family caregivers will need to turn to professional caregivers and other professional sources for help. That decision is a delicate and sensitive bridge to a new way of living and breathing in the world, so you dear caregiver can live your own life while you still love and care for your family member.
I highly recommend The Family Learning Center as a gentle and approachable place for family caregivers to gather information, support, and get guidance when professional help might be needed.
I have more to share with you about this beautiful story as we have only just begun the conversation. Please join in.
Christine, I have a yummy, healthy, comforting recipe for you and other caregivers that are striving to be more healthy and honoring of themselves as well as their loved ones.
Blessings and love,