In my new memoir, Who Cares? The Give and Take of Family Caregiving, I detail many of the challenges and personal hardships I faced while caring for my siblings and elderly parents. I was often exhausted, stressed, even depressed, after what seemed like endless trips to the emergency room, doctor visits and hospital stays. Not to mention the negative impact all of this had on my work and home life.
Of course, my story is one of the many millions that find themselves caring for loved ones or friends in need. Some have it worse, others perhaps not as bad. Either way, our lives take a very different turn, one that we’re simply not prepared for.
At a recent book signing I had the opportunity to meet some of those folks- husbands, wives, sons and daughters –all now caregivers. As I was signing their books I sensed a desperation; a need for restoration of mind, body and spirit. Indeed, family caregivers need to feel connected, loved and supported.
I wrapped up my talk by sharing two important lessons I learned, and am still practicing as my Dad is 91 and hanging in there!
- Doing what you can do to take better care of yourself: physically, emotionally and spiritually – will help you to help those you currently care for. Schedule time, no matter how short, to meditate, take a walk , or write down your feelings. These things will make a difference.
- We best honor and remember those we’ve loved and cared for by living a happy and fulfilled life. Feeling bad, guilty or regretful, while human, is NOT what our loved ones would wish for us. Practice letting negative of negative feelings; especially self doubt, regret and guilt.