"Remember to Take Care of Yourself"

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"Remember to Take Care of Yourself"

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hand-846092_640When my folks have a crisis, I feel somewhat inundated with others telling me:

"Remember to take care of yourself."

I can't tell you how crazy this makes me.

Last summer, a colleague who cares for a family member sent me a few check-in texts. "How's your mom," he asked. I shared a few quick updates and then he said, "Are you eating right, taking breaks?"

I responded that I just finished a snack of Greek yogurt and fruit and had walked to the hospital to see my mom.

What I really wanted to say was, "Did you stop smoking?"

This colleague is a heavy smoker with cigarette butts all over the car he uses to transport his caree as well as the house he shares with his caree. I've not ever said anything about his smoking and the harm the smoking does not only to him but to his caree.

I don't say anything because he's an adult. He knows.

When people tell me to take care of myself, I want to say, "How do you know that I'm not?"

The assumption people make is that I'm not. But do they know for sure?

I'm adult. I'm doing the best I can.

Rather than direct me to take care of myself, be a good listener. And, a good listener isn't someone who watches my mouth move while waiting for a chance to insert directives. A good listener simply does that--listens, takes in my story.

Rather than command me to take care of myself, assure me that I'm doing enough. Understand that I'm doing a lot while worrying I'm not doing enough. Your compassionate words, "You are doing all the right things," boosts my confidence, which I can't get enough of.

What if, during a tough caregiving time, I heard, "You are taking care of so much. How can I take care of you?"

Wouldn't answering that question be a great way for me to take care of myself?

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Lillie Fuller

I'm here, if there is anything I can do to help or lighten the load, don't hesitate to ask!

Louise Sullivan

This is my favorite: Are you making sure you still go to the gym? Not sure when I am supposed to fit this but it seems to really be high on everyone's list. Yes I understand that I practically lived there last year before this happened but priorities change, I do what I can. People sometimes think they are helping, I can't see why making me wonder if I look like crap because I am not going to the gym is helpful or supportive.\r\n\r\nBy the way: Denise you are amazing and an inspiration to me.

Jean

<a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/denise/' rel=\"nofollow\">@denise</a>, oh how this phrase drove me nuts! Before I found your website, that seemed to be the main message of nearly all other caregiving websites and articles... how stressful caregiving is and how you need to take care of yourself! Grrrrrrrrrr...........!\r\n\r\nI think frequently, it is just plain ignorance of how to respond to show care and empathy. I have fumbled in this area at times, and if not naturally learned in childhood, then it is a skill to be learned. What I love about what you do here, Denise, is you give us the language to learn and use. \r\n\r\nI remember distinctly the day when I learned to emphasize with my young daughter who was upset with a schoolmate. I had done what my mother had done, explain away the behavior of the schoolmate. We had many of these long cry sessions with me trying to console her. The day I said, \"oh sweetie, that must have really hurt\" -- it was like lickity-split, she was up and playing and the injustice forgotten. We all need understanding and validation. Words do count.

Denise

I love how open you are to different perspectives <a href=\"http://www.caregiving.com/members/sara32742/\" rel=\"nofollow\">@sara32742</a>! Listening to me provides me a break. It's being open to asking, \"How can I help?\" \r\n\r\nHonestly, if you decide that I need a break, you've made a judgment. We don't want to be judged because that feels condescending. Again, I'm adult.\r\n\r\nYou could say, \"I'd love to give you a break. What can I do that would give you a break?\"

Sue

Thanks for sharing. My thoughts exactly. I have one good neighbor who has offered to let me come over to vent any time I need to. Another good friend who says \"you are doing a good job and is there anything I can do for you\". I feel blessed in this respect.

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