With the massive baby-boomer population racing into their senior years, the conversation around many festive tables this year will turn to caregiving concerns.
That question, lobbed at me by a pastor, served as my first encounter with an indignant population in the Christian community who felt the book by Paul Young is heresy at worst — or sappy at best.
Of the many things warranting my gratitude, few rise to the level of the deep appreciation I feel for my father — and the impact he continues to have on my life.
We caregivers see a lot of doctors. Many of us can perform tasks that used to be relegated to licensed medical personnel, and for that vast number of caregiving mothers, "Dr. Mom" has taken on a new levels.
Of the many things warranting my gratitude, few rise to the level of the deep appreciation I feel for my father—and the impact he continues to have on my life. As a caregiver for a wife with extreme disabilities, I recognize skills and behaviors I learned from a man who didn't journey down the road I travel, but nevertheless prepared me for it by modeling five specific behaviors.
Despite all their skills, blinding speed and apparent competency, all caregivers suffer from the same challenge: What they do is unsustainable. It's simply a matter of time before a caregiver's body, emotions and/or their wallet will break down.
Whether wrapped in the nobility of caring for a suffering loved one or maybe just out of naked fear — the urge to wield control and power into the craziness of a chronic illness/disability is often overpowering and can have devastating results. From the moment one initiates a lifestyle based upon the myth of control, the clock is ticking towards failure. Since a long-term issue is by definition "unfixable," the illusion and reality will eventually collide. The results for the caregiver can be extreme rage, depression, or even abandonment.
Raising a family and keeping love alive in a marriage with a spouse who is constantly sick or in severe pain is an extreme challenge; one with many casualties. The divorce rate in couples with a disability in the family hovers around 90% and relationships with a disability or chronic medical condition face significant pressures on the love holding the marriage together. In my many years of caregiving I've observed and am learning four particular concepts that help allow love to transcend the harsh realities of living with someone who is sick and hurting —realities that can easily destroy a love.
When visiting elderly or disabled family members for the holidays, you and/or your siblings may notice that parents are a little less spry—or a disabled loved one may need some extra help. Here are seven easy things you can do to help shore up safety whether you are visiting their home or having them come to yours.
During the holidays, stories surface about the holidays being difficult for a great number of people struggling with illness or disability. Reporters often pause to spotlight extraordinary people trying to brighten the lives of patients spending the holidays in hospitals or nursing homes – particularly bringing attention to the wonderful efforts of nurses and hospital staff working hard at transforming clinical environments into warm and friendly places. Celebrity visitors, special meals from the cafeteria, music, and decorations fill the rooms and hospital floors; truly helping patients feel less cut off from family and friends.
Caregiving is challenging enough, but adding money issues to the mix creates a massive strain on individuals and families. Three decades of caregiving experience leads me to believe that although they may help, I cannot permanently rely on a government program, individual, family member, or a lottery ticket to come to my rescue. By the way, the lottery is simply a tax on people who are bad at math. The only permanent thing in this scenario is that caregiving requires long hours, weary nights, and constant battles to stretch a dollar until it is translucent.
Forget trying to plan a vacation as a caregiver, it is usually a major event just to go to see a movie! Starting out each morning anticipating the "crisis du jour," we caregivers frequently throw our hands up in exasperation at trying to schedule and reschedule things. With the daily bombardment of medical and caregiving issues, is it possible to carve out breaks to improve our overall well-being? It doesn't require a trip to Italy or an exotic island beach – but is it too much to ask for a quiet cot in the corner with no one bothering us for a couple of hours?
That small directive, what I call "The Delta Doctrine," contains applicable wisdom for so many life circumstances – but probably none as poignant as for those of us serving as a caregiver for a chronically ill/disabled loved one. Compassion and love often mistakenly lead us to hold our own breath – while trying to help someone else breathe, but once we make that decision, it is only a matter of time before we find ourselves gasping for air. If we are unable to breathe, how can we help anyone else?
Today's vast population of caregivers is full of fathers caring for an elderly or disabled spouse, a chronically ill loved one, or a child with special needs. Peter Rosenberger, a caregiver for nearly thirty years, recently provided five Father's Day gift suggestions to those dads who daily struggle to care for a vulnerable loved one.
The topic of miraculous healing continues to be a flashpoint for many in and out of church. Whereas the Bible contains many statements of healing, prosperity, and comfort – it appears a segment of Christianity hijacked those verses and positioned themselves as authorities on God's provision in relation to the sufferings of this world.
As a confessed "political junkie," I have watched long hours of C-Spann, listened to pundits rail and spin, read countless opinions, and generally overdosed on this election.