Tell Us: Why Do You Do This?


Tell Us: Why Do You Do This?

question-mark2On Monday, I presented the keynote at Care and Connect, the annual conference sponsored by Alzheimer's Association, Delaware Valley Chapter.  I presented The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey, which walks you through the caregiving experience, from when you first worry a family member (or friend) may need your help to after your caree's death.

Because my presentation lasted 90 minutes, I gave everyone a break 45 minutes into my speech. The break, though, included homework. Think of an intention you want to make about this day, I said. What do you want to know, to find out, to discover? Today, find the answer to that question you often ask. Once you have your question, I directed, introduce yourself to someone you don't know and then ask that person your question.

A few moments after I gave these instructions, the room became a buzz of conversations. About 10 minutes later, we gathered again. Who received an answer to your question, I asked.

An attendee toward the front of the room raised her hand--she had heard her answer. What was your question, I asked. Her question:

Why do I do this?

What a great question, I said. Then I asked for a show of hands of others who have asked a similar question. You guessed it--lots of hands.

So, I'd love to know: What's your answer to this question, Why do you do this (caregiving)? Please share your answers in our comments section, below. I'll choose a random winner to receive an autographed copy of my handbook, The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey.

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I take care of my Dad because I have only one Dad and I love him. \r\nAs a child I was always seeking my Dad's love and approval. I am a person pleaser. So part of my taking care of my Dad is that I am still seeking his love and approval. It is something I am working on in therapy.\r\nI take care of my Dad with the hope of creating positive memories for the both of us, to understand him better, to learn about my family while I still can.\r\nI take care of my Dad because I am his baby girl and I always will be even after he passes away.


Why do I do this? My husband and I say the same thing, this is just a token of time to give back to my Grandma for my life of years of caring. I found out while caregiving for Grandma that I've lived in her house before - just home from being born! I've spent years visiting for a week or two in the summer and all holidays plus more! I realized recently that my caregiving started while my grandpa was still alive and grandma asked me to drive him as much as possible until the Dr. had his license revoked. From then on I drove Grandma shopping and anywhere else they needed to go. We have been blessed and we give back. No regrets!


My husband and I have been married almost thirteen years. Even in the first years of our marriage, I found myself in the role of caregiver. While I was in the maternity ward after the birth of our son (he'll be twelve tomorrow), my husband was upstairs in the same hospital recovering from a life-threatening infection. While our son was still in diapers, I nearly lost my husband again to another infection. I have now been his caregiver since his brain injury in 2008. It's difficult to realize that I've been in this role more often than not throughout our marriage. At the same time, I feel grateful for the opportunity to care for my husband. After being told numerous times that he would not survive, I am simply thankful for each new day that I'm able to spend with him. Even when I feel overwhelmed or weary, I would not trade places with anyone. Why do I do this? Because he needs me to. I know that if the situation were different, he would do the same for me.


As I read this, I heard JFK's speech in my head: \"We choose to go to the moon, we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard...\" Caregiving is a different dynamic, to be sure, and more in line with another JFK quote, \"[A]sk not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.\" But even then, it doesn't quite hit the mark.\r\n\r\nIt took years of caregiving for me to realize that I actually <i>was</i> a caregiver. I didn't question why I did what I did; I just did it. Because not doing it would be worse. It would be tantamount to throwing my partner out on the street, and it would be worse for me because I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror. Despite the hardships, my partner is still a blessing to me; why would I throw that away?\r\n\r\nMy carpal tunnel syndrome gives me pain in my hands and fingers sometimes, but that doesn't mean I cut off my arms. I learn to adapt and, if I'm lucky, evolve. I can say the same for my caregiving.