Friday, December 26, 2008

Caregiving

Care giving is one of the hardest jobs out there. We have caregivers for many diseases and disorders. Some of these care givers are from the health professional industry and some are friends and family. It can be a thankless job for these people because they feel misunderstood. They can get frustrated because they may not know how to help the person they are caring for. They also tend to try and remain strong and tough, they act like nothing can hurt them-- no matter what you throw their way. And of course this can be so far from the truth.

As a mom, I can relate to care giving when I tend to my children. My youngest is just under a year old and her only form of communication is crying, so it can be hard sometimes to figure out what has gotten her upset since she can't use words to communicate. It's also hard when you try to help, like feed her or change her diaper, only to find out that she's sick with a cold or has gas. You feel helpless because you know that all you can do is just be there and hold her hand through the ordeal.

As a daughter to a mom with Alzheimer's, I can relate to care giving for an adult who finds it hard to communicate. And at times, this can be extremely frustrating for both the patient and the caregiver because an adult feels like the should be able to tell you what's wrong. The care giver can feel helpless in this situation too because communicating can be futile with a person that might not understand what you are saying.

From time to time in my own life, I to need the help of a care giver because of my health issues due to arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. This is hard for me because I've always been very independent and I feel that if I can't do something, I should not be burdening someone else to do it for me. So I can understand the patient's side of the coin too. They are also frustrated. But they are frustrated for a different reason.

Most people don't want help for something that may seem simple, like opening up a jar. Some people can even feel embarrassed when they need help with things like buttoning a shirt or combing their hair. I know I've felt silly when I've had to ask my husband to help me with taking off my shoes because I couldn't bend down to do it myself. It can make one feel inadequate as a human being because these are some normal functions that people take for granted being able to do everyday.

So how does one try to maintain feeling fabulous when their body isn't working like it should? Well, I find that there isn't just one answer to this question, but many. And this is from being able to understand both sides of the coin ,as well as, listening to my care giver when he talks to me about doing things out of love.

I can't stress enough how important it is to communicate to your loved ones how you feel. They won't be able to truly understand you or what you go through unless you do. Sometimes you may feel like a broken record because you'll have to repeat yourself-- a lot. But it's worth it because they love you, and they can't love you completely unless they know the whole you.

The same can be said about us trying to understand them and what they go through when we give them a hard time about helping us. The care giver should also be trying to communicate with you their frustrations too so you can love them as completely as you can.

Another thing that helps me is being able to step back from the situation itself, and try and remember that it's just a situation that is allowing me to be able to grow in love and understanding. This is hard when I feel silly asking my husband to help me get up from the floor-- or my particular favorite-- helping me to straighten out my back so I can stand up straight after doing heavy housework. But it can work.

The last thing that I try to remember is that tomorrow is another day. Another day that can and usually does bring something better. A day where I won't have to ask my husband to tie my shoes.

Being able to step back and think this way allows me to feel fabulous. I hope it helps you feel fabulous too.

Stay fabulous.
Love and friendship,
Kimberley


As a side note, the voting is still going on for the People's Health Blogger Awards. Voting ends January 15th, so make sure to cast your vote soon for Fibro And Fabulous. And the contest I'm running for an autographed copy of my books is also still going on. Keep those comments coming.
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