How to Spot a Family Caregiver
How to Spot a Family Caregiver
My colleague's comment came after a longer discussion about caregiving. This colleague keeps insisting to me that family caregivers must look like family caregivers by having a caree who looks really sick. To her, you look like a family caregiver when you are pushing a wheelchair. Exasperated, I finally sent an email that read:
“But they don’t look sick” is a common comment many family caregivers hear — and it’s also one of our greatest frustrations. I often think how the family caregiver looks tells the story of caregiving much better than how the caree looks.
In other words, my 88-year-old father who doesn't have a bladder, kidney, ureter or prostate and my 83-year-old mother who doesn't have a third of her stomach look good because I'm killing myself to help them look good.
The conversation with my colleague led me to wonder, What does a family caregiver look like? Let's compile a list of how to spot a family caregiver. Here goes:
- When you see someone with a laser focus, you see a family caregiver. We know what's important and lose sight of anything that isn't.
- When you hear laughter, you see a family caregiver. The sense of humor of a family caregiver is glorious. Because we have cried so much, we revel when we can laugh.
- When you see kindness, you see a family caregiver. The kindness of a family caregiver is legendary. We hold doors, smile at strangers and give thanks regularly. We know how much a kind gesture or look can mean.
- When you receive wisdom, you connect with a family caregiver. Because we often live with death, we understand the secret of life.
- When you see efficiency, you see a family caregiver. We have limited resources (money, energy, time) so have mastered how to do a lot with a little.
- When you experience compassion, you experience a family caregiver. We know what loss and pain feel like which means we know how to offer comfort and that powerful gentle touch.
- When you can enjoy the gift of quiet company, you connect with a family caregiver. We don't waste words or fill silence with silliness.
- When you watch someone manage life's little inconveniences with a shrug, you watch a family caregiver. We deal with significant, challenging problems every day. We don't waste our energy on the insignificant ones.
- When you experience patience, you meet a family caregiver. Even though we chide ourselves for not having enough patience, we have learned so much about keeping patience. We know more than anyone else how to be patient.
- When you see someone hurrying through the store, you see a family caregiver. We're running through our errands because we must run back to caregiving.
- When you see someone carry an enormous load, you see a family caregiver. We carry what you can see and also what you can't. We carry it every day, often times in the middle of the night and during every holiday.
- When you receive thoughtfulness, you connect with a family caregiver. We've been on the end of thoughtlessness so choose instead to be the one who sends the thank-you note, expresses compliments and offers encouragement.
What would you add to my list?
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