Doesn’t happen all that frequently, but considering the degree of stress that constantly shadows me and the amount of running around I do, it’s surprising that I’m not down for the count more often. I am sure that if I’d listened to my body and tended to its needs when the symptoms first reared their ugly heads, I wouldn’t be in bed on a warm, gorgeous Saturday, with the blankets pulled high, EIGHT days later. But who has time to rest, slow down and sip hot tea when so many others require my time and services?
I’m sharing my personal circumstances not for an offer of homemade chicken noodle soup, but as a reminder to all caregivers. My mantra to fellow caregivers of aging parents always reads: You can’t care for another if you’re not taking good care of yourself. Not that my bad cold and bronchitis will deter anyone from pushing themselves too far, but perhaps all the chaos that has ensued will resonate with a reader.
I am very conscientious and try very hard not to expose elders to any of my known germs. When I first started feeling symptoms, I limited my interaction to phone visits. But homebound seniors can still voice their needs, complaints and wishes over the phone. Therein set the guilt that I couldn’t be more productive. Soon to follow were the countless hours of trying to problem solve and meet my mother-in-law’s and clients’ needs from afar. That proceeded to missing my mother-in-law’s doctor’s appointment, the inability to grocery shop, prepare meals and provide transportation, and the incapacity to follow-up on outstanding issues due to exhaustion and extreme coughing fits. All this in just one short week. Impressive… in a not-so-inspiring way.
Thankfully my mother-in-law fared better than I this week thanks to the help of my husband. But how would things have gone if it were one of the many weeks out of the year he travels for work? Too many adult children acting as caregivers to their aging parents face this same situation time and time again. As a geriatric care manager (and typically healthy for two to three year stretches!) I can not only assist in overseeing your parent’s care, but connect you to local resources that can ease your load on an ongoing basis.
Several services exist, ranging from in home care to adult day health programs, which can provide you with a break from caregiving. The key is to remember that “a break” does NOT equal “not caring”. If you consider “break” as a brief pause, you’re ultimately preventing “break” from becoming a “break down”.
- to become ineffective
- to lose control; weaken
- to have a physical or mental collapse
- to cease to function
I’m on the mend from bronchitis and bed-rest and happy to help in any way I can. I provide complimentary consultations in which we can explore outside services that can offer your elder safety and you, the caregiver, peace of mind. If you’re not ready to take that step, please learn from my example. When your body is screaming that it’s fighting something and shutting down: LISTEN! Take care of yourself, because if you’re in bad shape, who is going to care for your aging loved one?