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Importance of Imperfection!

It can be difficult to realize that we all make mistakes and it is okay to do so as a caregiver.  There is a level of expectation that we often hold over ourselves as we embark on each new adventure.  Whether caring for elderly, mentally ill individuals, or other ill loved ones, challenges will rise, and we wonder whether we could do things differently.  There are always going to be those moments where we question ourselves, and consider whether our decisions have had negative impacts on the ones we care for, but this needs to stop.

As caregivers, we take on this superhuman quality, and we think we must do everything without fault, but the reality is, we are human.  Mistakes happen, and it is expected.  We do not receive a handbook, when we become caregivers, that lays out the specific challenges we will face, the personality of the individual we will care for, and the various ways to handle each situation as it arises.  As much as I wish that handbook existed at times, I realize the journey without one has its rewards.  I have learned how strong I can be, how resilient, and especially how creative I can be with problem resolution.  I have also learned to embrace the imperfections that make me who I am.

While there will always be those moments of questioning that follow tragedy or bumps in the road, the more that we can accept our own faults, the more open we will be to caring and loving those we care for, and ourselves.  The sooner this understanding happens, the easier it will be to move past the blame, and guilt that can only weigh down any progress of living.  Caregiving is difficult enough without us getting in our own way.  So, the next time a problem arises, remember to accept any imperfections because they are what make us human.

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Journey Into the Life of a Caregiver!

Caregivers are everywhere.  Parents are essentially caregivers, nurses and doctors are caregivers, teachers and day care workers are caregivers.  However, the caregivers I will be discussing are those who dedicate their lives to the care of others.  Nurses, doctors, teachers, and day care workers get to go home, but caregivers who provide care in their homes to a loved one work non-stop.  There are many of these caregivers, and there are those who stand on the outside looking in once in a while.

If you are not a caregiver like this and you have never been a caregiver like this, it is impossible for you to understand the demands placed on the caregiver.  Perhaps you have a sibling who takes care of your elderly parents and you live in another state.  You may see them on small vacations, but you do not know the true weight that is pressed on a caregiver after weeks, months, and years of caregiving.  You do not know the way it feels to no longer have your home to yourself and to lose your privacy.  You have no concept of what it is like to no longer have freedom because each moment of your life is dictated by the person you care for and their needs.

This is why it is crucial to understand it.  You need to walk in their shoes.  Every caregiving situation is different and they can change and become more difficult as the person ages or becomes more sick.  If you are not a caretaker, but you know one or you are a family member of one who should be more involved, become involved.  Stop taking advantage of the family member who has dedicated their lives, and take some responsibility too.  Incorporate ways to help, provide relief, and do more than move on with your life knowing your loved one is lacking the support they need.

The caregiver needs your support and the person being cared for does too.  If they are abandoned by everyone else, they must feel as though they are a burden and the person caring for them is the only one who cared enough.  You need to recognize that each time you call for 10 minutes to pretend you actually care or to remove your guilt is seen for what it is.  Not everyone is in a situation where they can caregive, but my parents were well off for a while and the excuse everyone else in the family used for my parents needing to take on the role was because they were financially able to.  Now my parents are in a situation where they make less than many of the siblings, but when they tried to get help, war ensued and nursing homes were the first thing everyone else brought up.  This is why they gave up on asking for help, because they knew what the outcome would be and they cared too much to let the human beings they care for to be seen as a burden.  They have the hearts that recognize the need for compassion and humanity, but unfortunately, not everyone else does.

Journey into the life of a caregiver to support them, and consider the humanity in caring, not the work or the burdens.  Caregiving is difficult and it should be shared because respite is needed.  To those caregivers who place your loves ones at the top of your priorities and provide loving care each day, thank you for being a part of the small percent who still embrace others with love and humanity.  Thank you for being the beautiful person you are!