Honoring Caregivers this November
November is National Family Caregivers Month. During this time, we are honoring caregivers who have dedicated part of their lives to support others in need.
Done without fanfare
Caregiving for a loved one is often done without fanfare. There can be an expectation that “family cares for family,” so someone must “step up.” Sometimes, family roles can dictate who the caregiver should be, such as the eldest child, the family member with a medical background, the retired member or the one without children, as they are assumed to have more time on their hands.
However one lands in this position, whether by duty or choice, caregiving is a demanding job that requires navigating and negotiating between care given to a loved one and the needs of the caregiver him or herself. At times, it can be overwhelming, frustrating and outright exhausting!
Focus on you
If you identify as a caregiver, it is important to make sure you take time to focus on your own care. Although it may be difficult at times, ask for help. Let others know specifically how they can help, whether it’s doing a load of laundry, making a meal, running errands or sitting with your loved one so you can take a shower.
Additionally, remember that it’s OK to say “no” to others if too much is on your plate. Enjoy some moments of respite, even if it’s only five minutes to do a breathing meditation, step outside, write in a journal, or listen to an uplifting song. Over time, these five-minute breaks can really add up!
Connecting with others
Lastly, connect with a caregiver’s group and find individuals who are or have been in a similar position. The knowledge and understanding shared in these groups can help one feel less alone and more understood by individuals who “get it.”
Caring for someone else can be fulfilling, and it is important not to overlook the positives and rewards that accompany the act of giving of oneself to help another in need. To all of you who are reading this and are caring for a loved one, I leave you with a lovely reminder from author Ron Cooper who wrote this upon reflection of his own time as a caregiver:
“The Caregiver’s Prayer”
May I strive to say the right thing at the right time.
May I look to others to help shoulder my burden.
May I tend to my needs to avoid overload.
May I look to my higher power for guidance.
May I avoid managing every aspect of care.
May I sharpen my listening skills.
May I realize I can never know everything.
But I will learn the most important things.
May love guide my every action
And keep me centered upon the precious one in my care.
Gilchrist provides counseling and support for people caring for a loved one. To learn more about our Counseling & Support services, visit gilchristcares.org/counseling-support. To support our work, visit gilchristcares.org/give.