The Realization of Caregiving

Joni

The Realization of Caregiving

Joni
light-painting-251786_640(Editor's Note: We welcome Joni, who cares for her mom, to our blogging team today. You can connect with Joni on her profile page: @jjjohnson.)

As I look back, I realize I have been a caregiver for quite a long time. Even as a child at the early age of four, I told my mother I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up.  I definitely fulfilled that dream, as I have been a registered nurse in a variety of wonderful roles for over 23 years now.

But even prior to becoming a nurse, I now realize I have been a caregiver for quite some time, in one fashion or another. I have been blessed by having wonderful parents, who always cared for others -- caring for our immediate family, or my grandparents or those in the church and others they may have just encountered and had a need. I watched my parents and truly loved how they loved and cared for others. They provided me such wonderful gifts that I will always be grateful for.

It is now a time in my life in which I reflect back on caring for family and others and now have a realization that it certainly can take a toll on oneself. As I reflect back on the family members I cared for prior to their passing and during their passing, I continue to have a great sense of loss. My father passed away November 2011, due to end stage lung disease. He passed at home with the assistance of hospice and with our family near to him. I quickly went into the role of caregiving for my mother, as I promised my father I would always care for Mom. I have just relocated my mother near to me, and have had to place her in a board and care which she is slowly adapting to. Mom has early dementia and is at the stage that she knows she is having memory loss which causes her great fear and anxiety. It breaks my heart to watch. How do we cope with the heartbreak of watching our loved ones age and lose their independence and truly their once held vibrant life? How do we cope with the guild we may feel when time does not permit us to do all we want to? How do we cope with the guilt of when our caregiving time to a parent may be taking away essential time your children or husband may need?

Along with the loss of Dad and assisting and caring for Mom, I also lost my sister soon to be a year ago on February 9th. My sister was a wonderful person, a nurse as well who cared for children with cancer. My sister also had challenges with depression and addiction. Her death was a tragic loss we all continue to deal with. Caregiving and loss seem to go hand in hand.

As a nurse, I also see the many faces of patients and families who are dealing with tragedy. In my current role as a Director of Patient Experience in a large medical center, I look into the faces of many and my heart goes out to each one who is suffering. I find blessings, though, by having the ability to hold their hand, listen to their stories and just be there to offer comfort in some way.

Being a caregiver is a blessing, and I believe it takes a special person to have the compassion to do so. I am certainly not tooting my own horn, I just realize the impact it can have on oneself when you give but do not rejuvenate yourself due to lack of time from everyday demands. I look forward to hearing how you may care for yourself and others and your stories you can share with me. Personal stories fill the heart and soul and help each of us connect and support one another.

May each of you be blessed in your caregiving role but also be sure to care for self, to rejuvenate yourself and to reflect upon your wonderful blessings of being a caregiver.

Thank you for reading my first blog on caregiving.com and thanks to Denise for the opportunity to do so.

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Denise

I'm so glad you are blogging, Joni! I often think of a question one of our members posed years ago: How do we bear the pain and suffering during caregiving? It's such a experience of heartache. \r\n\r\nI am so sorry about your sister. You must miss her so. \r\n\r\nI'm looking forward to your blog posts. You have an important perspective--one of the professional and the family caregiver--and it's great you're sharing it with us.

darciejane

Welcome Joni and thank you for a thought-provoking post. I am so sorry for the loss of your sister, which must be terribly difficult for your mom and I'm sure has contributed to her decline. And to your personal challenges as well. I'm glad she is adapting to her living situation; this is so important for both of you. Your personal and professional lives are so intertwined and will give you many good insights to share with the rest of us.