I am the daughter of a dad with Alzheimer’s.
I am the son of a mom with Parkinson’s.
I am the wife of a man that has had a stroke.
I am the husband of a woman that has breast cancer.
I am the partner of one that has complications of diabetes.
December 22, 2021
You find yourself helping your mom with grocery shopping, taking her to the doctor, and having her hair done. You find yourself helping your dad by mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, and cleaning the house.
Maybe, you are doing their errands, laundry or going to the bank for them.
No big deal, it is just what you do for family. They took care of you when you were younger and now it is your turn to help them.
Health issues arise. Both physical and mental. They are no longer the independent, self-sufficient person that they once were. A part of you thinks that this is temporary, but the other part of you knows that this is the beginning of a decline in someone that you love.
We talk about parents and their needs, but it could be a spouse or partner. A life-altering tragedy has occurred and now you are helping them. You still have the same responsibilities you had before with your own job and your own health needs. Don’t forget about your civic responsibilities, church activities or friendships.
Caregiving needs and duties change over time
Over time, their needs take up more time and effort. Your free time becomes less and less. There will be times that you cannot take care of your own things very well as you are helping them with their things. It happened slowly and you didn’t really notice it until something like an unpaid bill smacks you in the face. You beat yourself up for missing the due date. You have never missed a due date before. Oh crap, I have had to take money out of my savings to pay some of my bills. Oh yeah, I had to miss a week’s work. When was the last time I ate dinner with my kids?
I need a break; you think to yourself. But, how and who will step-in?
It is about this time that you start to look around and see how much time your helping has turned in to over these past couple of years. You start wondering and evaluating what has been happening and what would be best.
Questions to ponder:
- Is what I am doing for them necessary or can they do it themselves?
- Are you doing these things so others will sing your praises?
- What can be delegated to other people?
- Are you trying to exert control over a situation that is uncontrollable?
- Are you feeling guilty?
- Do you feel resentment building up?
- Are you open to others helping?
These are hard questions. These are necessary questions for you to answer to help you realize where you are and how you feel. Maybe you have some guilt trying to run your life. A little guilt is good for us. It makes sure we are doing things for the “right” reason. When you start the “Should” in your thoughts and sentences, watch out. Big guilt heading your way. “Should’s” need to be stomped out of our vocabulary. That would stop a lot of the guilt. Are your “should;s” coming from what other people say? You could say, I can’t do that, but you are more than welcome to do that.
Be open to seeing you have options
You are not all powerful. You are not all knowing. You do have options. Be open to seeing the possibilities. What do you want to be? What do you want to take care of? What are you good at? Your own attitude towards situations do make a huge difference in how you feel about a task.
Set certain days for certain things. Example, Medical Mondays – all appts. Need to be on a Monday morning. Grocery store Thursday evenings. Find the day and time in your own schedule that will work for you.
People are usually willing to help. However, they cannot read your mind. Make that list of things and keep it ready. Pull it out and sign them up. Need a meal fixed, put it on the list. Does the yard need to be mowed? Put it on the list. Laundry? They can pick it up and bring it back when they are finished. Do you need a “go-fer” for the day? Add your errands to the list.
The new normal
Your new normal does not have to be awful. Your new normal does not have to always be stressful. Your new normal does not have to take over your own life. Your new normal does not have to cause resentment
Your new normal can be a blessing. Your new normal can bring your whole family closer together. Your new normal can help you learn to delegate better. Your new normal can help you to communicate better. Your new normal can be whatever it becomes because you are open to the possibilities.