Saturday, October 24, 2009

When We Care Too Much

I had the privilege of attending the Rosalynn Carter Institutes Conference on Caregiving this past week. It was such an honor to be in the room with so many people dedicated to the role of Caregiver, whether on a personal or professional level.

It was also thrilling to meet the former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, and hear her stories and where her interest in Caregiving came from.

If you look around you, and really pay attention, there are Caregivers everywhere, caring for mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children.

Most of the time, like myself, they don't see themselves in this role, they only see themselves fulfilling their original role of daughter, son, mother, father, etc.

And as time goes by and our population continue to age we are going to see this role increasing.

The number one cause of nursing home placement is Caregiver Burnout.

I listened to my sister this week and could hear the fatigue and frustration that I too have felt. It's not a lack of love for those that we have in our charge, nor is it a lack of desire to continue in our role...

It is that feeling that nothing you do is good enough anymore...that no matter what, you can't FIX whatever is broken with them. It is the tired that gets down in your very core that you can never shake.

I know it sounds terrible, but I have thought I could not handle one more thing, kind of like the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. But one more thing's just kept coming. And somehow we always have made it.

It is an interesting place to be, all at once heartbreaking and terrible, rewarding and fulfilling. And somewhere in the middle of all of it you find a strength that you didn't even know existed inside of you, a compassion, and a hope.

Somewhere, someone you know is caring for someone they love. And they are struggling and they are tired, and they feel alone.

Because in the midst of this care and love the Caregiver can begin to loose themselves. I know, I have been there. But who cares for the Caregiver?

Pray for those you know in this situation. Lift them up, encourage them. Let them know you see what they are going through. Help them when they will let you, if nothing else, a nice casserole would work wonders.

For those with home bound Care Recipients offer to sit for an hour, mow the yard, bring them a gift card to their favorite restaurant and stay so they can go enjoy it.

Because when we care too much we are in danger of finding ourselves in a crisis, feeling like we have failed those we love and ourselves.

Be attentive, be mindful, be compassionate, be caring.....because you never know when you will be giving care....or in need of care....

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