Caregiving

I am helping to facilitate a group of young women as we read and share insights together from a book by Debbie Macomber.  This week’s chapter was about caregiving and the author stated that everyone falls into one of four groups:  those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.  She then asked where do you fall in this continuum?  What advice do you give for those who are called to care for their loved one?

Scripture – I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  Matthew 25:35

During my life I have had and will again fall under each of these groups.  By no means is this list extensive but it is much of what I have experienced so far.

Been a caregiver

  • Learn to rest. Sometimes we become so busy caring for others, we forget to care for ourselves.
  • Learn to laugh. Caregiving can be a messy business, full of tasks that are endless and pretty heavy.  Laughter is good medicine and can lighten the heart.
  • Make plans and dream. Your calendar will have space for it.  You lived the past.  Don’t let the past shape your future days.  It is good to remember those we have lost; it is good to feel we have honored our loved one but in most cases that person would want us to move on – be careful that you don’t find yourself 2 years later living as if this time of caregiving is still your reality.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Do what you did because it was the right thing to do not so you can remind others of what a saint you were because more than likely they might see it a little differently than you do.
  • Pray – seek God for next steps in your life.

Are a caregiver

  • Take a long hard look on where you can delegate and ask for help.
  • A tired person often becomes resentful.
  • Keep your doctor’s appointments. You can’t care for others well if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Do what you do because it was the right thing to do not so you can remind others of what a saint you were because more than likely they might see it a little differently. (This one is worth repeating.)
  • Pray – ask God for strength and wisdom in this role. Stay in His word.  The bible is similar to a well-stocked refrigerator but we often refuse to open the door and nourish ourselves for what the day will bring.
  • Decide what you can let go of and what you can’t. When a person is ill and they are telling a story differently than you remember it, can you be still and let it be – not needing to be right?
  • Do what you do as if you were doing it for the Lord.
  • Treat those you are caring for with respect. Bring them into the conversation about their care when appropriate.

Those who will be a caregiver

  • Start giving of yourself in small ways – there is always someone you can care for. These practices will give you a skill set as a foundation to grow upon.
  • Read a book about caregiving so you have a basic understanding of what others in this role may be going through.  
  • Pray that God would grow a generous nature in you, give you the eyes to see how you might be the legs and arms to someone in need.
  • Come alongside a caregiver who is caring for someone else. They are tired – bring them an unexpected meal, send them a card stating your admiration for what they are doing, leave a bouquet of flowers on their doorstep, listen when they need to process.
  • Spend time in God’s word. There are many distractions but there will come a day when what you have stored in your heart will see you through times that ask much of you.

Who will need a caregiver?

  • The truth is that unless we have an immediate death, all will find themselves in need of someone to look after them.
  • Start now to become a good listener because there will come a time you need to rely on others to make decisions or process with you.
  • Do what is within your power to care for yourself. Take your medicine; do your exercises, eat healthy, don’t over medicate.  Some of the disability in this life has happened because people choose to stay stuck. This will give you confidence and allow you from relying on others more than you need to. 
  • Remember caregivers have other responsibilities.  Be patient about having your needs met.
  • Place good messages into your heart and brain. Instead of too much TV – listen to Christian books, music, or have someone read to you.  The ears are often the last to go – God’s truth is needed as we journey through times of recovery or as we leave this world and go home to Jesus.
  • Remember you may be on pain medication which can slow down or alter our thinking. There will be times you may need to rely on someone else who has a clearer perspective than you can on any given day.
  • Remember God can heal and although today you are in need; it doesn’t necessarily define your tomorrows.

Please feel free to add other insights in this area that may help others.

 

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