My father lived to see his 100th birthday in 2017. It was a huge celebration.
On that day, it seemed he would live forever. So when that didn’t happen 8 months later, I was completely unprepared, even though he was in his 101st year.
My father knew well the importance of family and he instilled those values in me. So, we naturally did whatever we could to ensure his twilight years were fulfilling and comfortable despite shouldering the huge responsibilities of Ben’s continual care and development.
His passing was a reckoning of sorts, that being given the role of a family caregiver is really a tremendous gift. Here are the 4 lessons that came out of that soul searching.
1 - Be Truly Present In All That You Do, So You Can Be Ready For The Unexpected:
Being present means to be attentive and focused on what’s in front of you. I always had a thousand thoughts floating through my mind that had nothing to do with the task at hand. Those times we had dinner together, I didn’t always appreciate the time we spent … until there were no more dinners.
2 - No Matter How Stressful Life Is, Make Memories EVERY Day:
Making memories is not an overt strategy for most of us in a caregiving role. It doesn’t have to be complicated or require a lot of planning. But it’s an amazing way to enhance & strengthen relationships. What I totally missed was the opportunity to just drop in and visit, for no specific reason, if only for 10 minutes.
3 - STOP Longing For Something Better If You Can’t See The Beauty Today:
When you’re in the throes of medical urgencies and sleep deprivation, there’s little energy to do much. When you’re trapped on the treadmill of caregiving, remind yourself that everything you see is not all that there is. When you quiet your mind and change the frequency of what you’re noticing, the beauty of the day will begin to emerge.
4 - Every Day We Are Given Wondrous Things. Look For Them. Take A Picture In Your Mind:
If you believe this, and act upon this, the caregiving journey is far more fulfilling. If you can imprint the feelings and images of the “great” days in your mind, they will sustain you during the tough ones. If you’ve been given the opportunity to be a caregiver, see it as the GIFT that it truly is.
If you are a family caregiver who desires the gift of caregiving, send me an email ([email protected]) and I'll share more details.