“One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.” -Jim Rohn (1930-2009), American entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker
Lucy, a longtime family friend, recently turned 91 and I called to wish her a happy birthday. She was thrilled to hear from me, but said she had to go because aerobics class started in 15 minutes and she didn’t want to break the speed limit getting there. “When I grow up,” I told her, “I want to be just like you!”
Lucy has always led an active life. She raised two children with her late husband, volunteers for her church, and maintains a beautiful flower and herb garden. She takes a handful of vitamins every morning, walks several miles before breakfast, keeps an immaculate home, goes country line dancing, and whips up healthy gourmet meals for parties of 12 with a table that looks like Martha Stewart set it. Lucy’s daughter, 65, lives nearby and often remarks that she won’t be surprised if her mother outlives her. However, it’s very likely that Lucy’s daughter will one day become Lucy’s caregiver, something she says she knows will “be a valuable gift I can give to Mom,” while also understanding that “my life will change and I hope I’m up to the task.”
It is estimated that 90 million Americans currently care for at least one family member in the home (Caregiver Action Network), with more than one-third representing adult children caring for parents (National Alliance for Caregiving, 2009). Caregiving can be demanding and strenuous, especially caring for someone at end of life and especially if the caregiver, like Lucy’s daughter, is a senior citizen.
5 Tips For a Better Caregiver Experience:
- Don’t over-extend. If you really don’t have the time or energy to bake cookies for the charity event, just say no.
- Don’t neglect yourself and the things you love. Take a little “me time” every now and then.
- Find help and resources. Before your loved one returns home from the hospital or facility. It can give you some support so that you’re not on your own.
- Try to learn to accept the things you can’t change. You don’t have to solve all of life’s problems. Look for the good instead of the bad in each situation.
- Engage in physical activity regularly. Do what you enjoy—walk, play with grandkids, or swim to release stress. Letting go of tension in your body will help you feel better.
November is National Family Caregivers Month and Heart ‘n Home invites you to join us in celebrating those 90 million family members, plus those in caregiving careers. Take a few moments this month to acknowledge the value they bring to the lives of others. Send a card, give a small gift, prepare food, offer some of your time to give the caregiver a break. Showing that you care brings value and affirmation to their life and yours … every day, every time!